As more and more low and moderate income individuals are using their mobile devices- such as cell phones- as their primary internet access point, Pro Bono Net and Montana Legal Services Association, through a TIG grant, have created a mobile platform for LawHelp to allow users to access state websites on these devices. With MontanaLawHelp launching their mobile website in the summer of 2012, and other states replicating the mobile platform, before you consider taking your site mobile, you may have some more basic questions- such as "What is a mobile website?" and "How is that different from a mobile App?"

What is a mobile website?

A mobile website is similar to other websites in that it consists of pages linked together and accessed through a browser (such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari etc). The major difference between a mobile site and a traditional website is that the mobile site is designed for smaller handheld displays and touch-screens. These considerations do not just impact the design considerations, they also impact what content is available on the mobile website.

What is an App?
Apps, on the other hand, are applications that are downloaded and installed on a mobile device, rather than being accessed using a browser. To download the app, users have to visit a device-specific site, such as Apple's App Store, the Android Market or the Blackberry App World, to find and download the app.

What is the major difference between the two?

The defining characteristic is the browser. Because mobile sites are accessed through a browser on the users phone nothing is downloaded and no one need purchase anything. Anyone can go to your mobile site from any web-enabled device. An app requires that you go to a separate non-LawHelp site to download an application. Mobile websites are also accessible across different device types, while apps require a separate version to be built for each type of mobile platform (Android, iOS, etc.) Lastly, while many mobile websites are able to access certain features native to mobile phones such as click-to-call and GPS, mobile apps are generally used when it is important for the app to be able to interact with many features of the phone.

Pro Bono Net has numerous trainings on mobile platforms and the value of considering mobile sites in service delivery methods. Check out Other Trainings and Resources for more information.

Click here for more information on creating a mobile website. We also have resources addressing content considerations, an estimated timeline to set up a mobile site, some stock language for your site, a press kit for your launch as well as a FAQ section. As always, this information will be updated and if you have questions or thoughts, feel free to contact or reach out to your Pro Bono Net contact person.