Corporate Learning Apps – Native or Web-based?

Many companies are shifting more and more attention to mobile learning. As a result, we’ve seen the number of mobile applications (or just apps) skyrocket. Commonly, an app tends to refer to one of those that you download to your phone from an app store. However, there are also web applications in addition to these “native” apps. When choosing a deployment method for the mobile, the type becomes important. Hence, we compiled this quick guide on native vs. web-based corporate learning apps, and the pros and cons of each.

Native vs. Web app – what’s the difference?

The main difference between the two is that native apps are downloaded to one’s device and accessed locally, whereas web apps are deployed on remote servers and accessed via the browser of the mobile device. While responsive web apps can be quite powerful in features, people often don’t see them as apps, but rather websites, which doesn’t necessarily do them justice.

Besides this main difference, there are a lot of smaller things that differ between the two. Also, when talking about corporate learning apps in particular, there are a few other things that L&D professionals may need to consider.

Pros and cons – native apps

Let’s start by looking at native corporate learning apps and the functionality and capabilities they offer.

ProsCons
Fast, not as much dependent on internet speeds, as content is often saved locally (may also be offline accessible)Locally saved content may be an information security consideration.
Ability to use full functionality of the operating system and device (e.g. camera, microphone)Different operating systems require their own apps, which increases development and upkeep resources needed.
You may be able to build more intuitive user experiences specific to mobileSomeone needs to install the app, either the employee or your IT team

Overall, native corporate learning apps probably come down to costs. Are you able to use the specific benefits of native apps in a way that warrants the costs?

Pros and cons: web apps

Now that we’ve looked over web apps, here are some pros and cons for web-based learning applications.

ProsCons
Need to develop only one version, which essentially works on any device with a browser. Access to mobile devices internal capabilities is slightly limited.
Easy to update content, everything can be done remotely and instantlyPerformance is dependent on network speeds
Easy to deploy, users don’t need to download anything on their devicesNeed to ensure all functionality is equal on different browsers.

As an option, web-based corporate learning apps tend to be the cheaper one. With current mobile browser performance, they are well able to cater to most general mobile learning needs in organisations.

Which one should you use for your corporate learning app?

In general, we can’t say that one type of app is better than the other. Rather, both have their advantages and weaknesses. Also, it’s perhaps worth to note that apps are as good as the developers who build them. We’ve seen web apps that wiped the floor with native ones in all aspects, but also ones that don’t do very basic stuff all that well (and vice versa of course!). Hence, when it comes to corporate learning apps, take your time to familiarise yourself with them. Just the fact that someone has developed an app doesn’t necessarily mean that the app is of high quality and contributes meaningfully to the learning.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you need the app for, i.e. suitability. As organisations, we also operate with different types of constraints, e.g. budgets, resources available and company mobile device policies just to name a few. Therefore, it’s important that you spend time carefully considering what you need, before starting to develop on any platform. And if you need help designing or prototyping solutions, we are happy to help. Feel free to drop us a note here.

More Learning Ideas