The annual Mobex Awards hosted by Marketing Magazine were last week, and Constant (formerly SALT) picked up Best Mobile site for maiDan – Hong Kong’s new food ordering app.

A pleasant surprise and a good way to end first year in business  — especially considering the hefty debates we went through as we decided whether to go with a native app or mobile site for the pilot (yes, this is only the pilot version of maiDan).

There’s a lot of debate in the industry about this; what are the advantages of a native app in comparison to a really well designed mobile site? The mobile site allows for a more agile approach, where you can design for all screens and make immediate updates without going through tedious approval process in app stores. That makes a lot of sense especially when you are launching a product and want to be able to tweak and improve based on user feedback and behaviour.

There are, however, some functionality that you have to abandon if you choose a mobile site over a native app – push notifications being a significant one. For maiDan, we worked around that by integrating SMS into the workflow.
There are also issues in terms of applying smooth animations (to give that “app feeling”), but we achieved a very native experience using AngularJS.

In the end, choosing a mobile site was the right decision for the pilot, but there is a great chance we will be launching a native app in the future. After all, the principle should be to make the experience available on all screens, in all devices the way the user wants it. If that’s through an app or through the browser should really be up to them.