Web Development vs. Mobile App Development

There is confusion when comparing Web Development vs. Mobile App Development.

The roles seem similar from a high-level, but once you dig deeper they are two completely different career paths. Some of the skill sets overlap, but most do not. The ideal route you should take is learning Web Development first. This will give you the foundation needed for your programming career.

Once you learn the basics, it is easier to learn more complex skills like Mobile App Development.

What is Web Development?

The first website was released on August 6th, 1991.

The website contained information about the WWW project. It launched at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The website was boring, it was only instructions on how to use it.

Little did the readers know, this was a historical day.

The instructions on the website explained how to create webpages and taught visitors about hypertext. We still use these foundations to this day.

Web development is a process that involves using code to contain the core components of a website.

These codes have the power to build functional, responsive, and intuitive ideas for the world to see. The very beginning of web development only allowed users to input static values. Static values are when the content does not change until the user updates it manually. Dynamic values are ones that change programmatically.

Over the years of evolving web development, dynamic values are the critical pieces.
There are 3 fields of web development:

  • Front End Web Development
  • Back End Web Development
  • Full Stack Web Development

What is Front End Web Development?

Front End Web Development is a focus on what the user sees when going to the website. This is all the styling, animations, and design work on the client side.

Most of this work is done in programming languages like:

What is Back End Web Development?

Back end web development is a focus on what goes on behind the scenes when going to a website or using an application. This back end code is usually used to query databases,
grab data from APIs, and then handle this data however the application might need.

Some examples of back end web development languages are:

What is Full Stack Web Development?

Full Stack web development is a combination of both front end and back end web development.

This type of development will handle both areas of the web development process. Most frameworks and content management systems developed today will require some Full Stack web development. This could require code, or be no-code.

You can dive more into the advantages and disadvantages of content management systems here.

What is Mobile App Development?

The first mobile app was released as a series of 500 “native” applications in Apple’s App Store. This came with the first iPhone, which was released in June 2007.

Mobile app development is the process of creating intuitive ,functional, applications that are easy to download and use on mobile devices. Mobile applications can be used for any niche possible. These are here to make your lives easier, without the use for a web browser.

Mobile applications also implement the user of API’s, databases, and “in-memory” databases like SQLite. Most mobile app development is developed in Swift and Java. As of this publication, iOS applications are built in Swift and Android applications are built in Java. You cannot build an iOS application on a windows machine without serious hacking of the device.

There are new programming languages being implemented for mobile app development. The most known is React Native.

React Native is a JavaScript library that is used to build user interfaces for both Apple AND Android devices. This can be done with one code base. Before React Native, if a client company was interested in building an Android app and iOS app both, you would need two separate applications.

React Native is a framework build by Meta (formerly Facebook) that is very close to ReactJS, the web development framework.

Responsive Web Design Vs Mobile App Development

It is estimated that 59% of total global website traffic is from a mobile device.

In this stage of the digital age, web development needs to adapt. The newest technology for front-end development is responsive web design. Responsive web design differs from Mobile App Development because responsive web design is just web design that is tailored for mobile. This still does not require an app to be downloaded from the app store.

A mobile app still requires this.

Responsive Web Design

As mobile phones become a bigger part of our lives, it becomes a bigger focus for web designers to test for a responsive web design.
Responsive web design is the approach where no matter your screen size or resolution, the elements of the web page should look clean and intuitive. This practice usually involves the use of media queries, which are built in CSS, to check the device dimensions and handle accordingly.

Most HTML frameworks come out of the box with responsive web design already created. Though you may need to customize a few things for older devices.
Some frameworks that are responsive are:

  • Bootstrap
  • Tailwind
  • Bulma
  • FlexBox

Are Apps Better Than Websites?

The biggest key difference between the two is how the users access the data.

Apps are required to download it from the app store, and then install it. When you install the application to your device, you can use this “offline” and anywhere you want. This is not the case with a website. In order to access a website, you must be connected to the internet at all times.

This is where certain niches could see apps are better than websites.


Overall, if you are interested in Mobile App Development, it would still be best if you learned web development first.

Learning web development will build your foundation exactly how it is needed to pursue more complex systems, like mobile app development, in your future. Web development will teach your logic, syntax, and even database handling for your future career.

Leave a Comment