Responsive Website vs. Native Mobile App – which one should you go for?

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The increasing concentration and evolution of handheld devices coupled with boosted internet connectivity is consistently transforming the way in which consumers access smart phones, tablets and ipads. There exist options for business owners now, whether they should design a responsive website or get a mobile app to reach customers and enhance business opportunities. But choosing one over the other remains far from easy.

Let’s try to enlist some broad characteristics, which can help you decide on one:

Utility of Application

The first consideration before deciding on a product or a service is judging its utility. As a business owner one must clearly define it. A responsive website development has a larger utility than apps since it doesn’t get restricted to just mobile devices but also serves the purpose to be on tablets, laptops i.e. any handheld devices unlike a mobile app which has limited utility w.r.t. the kind of devices it could used.

User Experience

It is worth consideration that users access different devices in various situations with unique purposes. Hence, user experience plays a pivotal role when it comes to planning and designing any online platform. A responsive web design, which utilizes a single code base manages to work well on desktop with lot of content and space availability. But on smaller screens, it can be tricky to understand and portray which content is important and must be to be portrayed aptly so that user requirements are met. Thus, more time and effort goes to create an experience for users. A  mobile app in this case, would be more user friendly with apt display of important content on smaller screens to create the right user experience with less effort  and time.

Navigation

Navigation is second to none to create a user experience, engagement and probability of revisiting the online platform again. Deciding on this, is quite related to the nature of business as well. If you own a news site or blogging platform or a forum to exchange views, news and ideas. Top down navigation can be taken in by users. Such navigation is offered typically well with responsive web design.

However, with ventures like entertainment, photo gallery, hospitality or e-commerce offering the selection, navigation, online purchases, payments can be well handled by mobile app, which also gives left right navigation, making it more user friendly.The left right navigation can be integrated in responsive web design but again it calls for some customization.

A point worth consideration is desktop site navigation menus too. If the desktop site has a multilayer drop down options and the design has a complex hierarchy elements then it become less compelling to choose responsive web design, as it may not serve the purpose of creating an awesome user experience.

Development Cost

Getting a responsive web design for your business is certainly an affordable option than mobile app. Since only one website version with occasional upgrades needs to be worked on. Costs with mobile app usually leaps ahead since two website versions are required here with frequent upgrade requirements.

Development Cycle

This one gets situational. Depending on your designer, website size, complexity, pages and functionalities, the development cycle may vary. A responsive web design can take longer to be developed than a normal one since the web page design and content must be coherent with various screens. Add on to it the complexity, if the normal website exists and it has to be optimized to suit various devices, then it can be a tricky task.

On the contrary, it can take less time as well, than an app as there is no requirement of app store approvals or adherence to guidelines to launch an app.

Performance

The performance of an online platform depends on the bandwidth. With large multimedia content and less bandwidth, a responsive website may take longer to load and operate. In contrast, mobile apps perform better in a streamlined manner without technical glitches and less loading time.

Business Strategy vis-a-vis Digital Marketing

If digital marketing, SEO, web traffic and its analytics rules over your mind as business strategy with increased visibility, good ranks in search engines then getting a responsive web design holds the edge. Mobile App lives is in a secluded environment and doesn’t get ranked by search engines.

A responsive web design can be a ‘one size fits all’ solution but, it does not integrate mobile phone features like camera, GPS that mobile app offers. Moreover, with changes in web design over time the complexity can increase to render a suffered user experience.

If your business strategy and budgets permits, it is advisable to create both a mobile app for niche mobile users and responsive web design for optimized experience to users from any device.  However, if you are start-up a responsive web design can well be opted initially.

All in all, considering the factors above, the choice between responsive web design or app must depend on your business nature, objectives and budgets to fit the bill.