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Responsive Website vs. Mobile App

  • 22.11.2016
  • Apps

The choice between ‘a responsive website that looks great on a mobile’ and a ‘standalone mobile app’ is a subject of heated debate among many business owners.

The rate of mobile use has grown five times during the past four years, indicating mobile internet user diffusion surpassing half of the world’s population. Internet penetration rates are forecasted to be 89% in North America, 73.9% in Europe and 73.3% in Australia/Oceania.Source According to a report by eMarketer, more than 2.56 billion people will use smartphones globally by 2018. The rate at which internet penetration is growing has made responsive websites a necessity to cater to the anytime needs of smartphone users.

But the question is whether to build a responsive website or a standalone mobile app, or both. Let us have a concise discussion on it here.

How Does Mobile App and Responsive Website Differ?

Responsive website is a responsive design of the existing web content optimized for smaller screens. But mobile apps are actual applications with added security and more personalization options, which are downloaded and installed on mobile devices.

Deciding between the two is quite tricky since both mobile approaches can be accessed on handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. But before going into an inquiry on how to choose between them, it is sensible to have a quick look at the merits and demerits of them.

Responsive Website Mobile App
Less costly affair, since you are just formatting the existing web content for mobile devices Costly affair
The development cost is much more than converting your website
Does not work offline Gives both offline and online access, since not rendered within a browser
Has to be accessed through a url or shortcut to the url Easy access by tapping the icon on home screen
Works on all mobile devices as you need to create and revise only one mobile experience You need to specifically develop apps for different platforms
Poor design and slow internet can cause performance issues, muddled design and clash with user experience Since apps are tailor-made for specific devices, it gives flamboyant, fun and useful presence on the devices. It also ensures best user experience by incorporating smart features on your app.
Not the best User Experience UX at its best when properly designed for the target operating system
Improves SEO Cannot be indexed by Search Engines
More flexible as changes can be integrated quickly Content cannot be refreshed quickly
Less interaction with users. Limited mostly by HTML5 capabilities Cameras and GPS systems enable enhanced interaction
Not effective in engaging customers Push notifications, on-demand communication, geolocation, map integration and other functionalities help in creating customer loyalty

Choose Between the Two (Responsive Website vs. Mobile App)

Dont just head start into creating an app just because every other business including SMEs out there has it. A prudent decision depends on the type of your business, your goals, expectations, etc. It is worthwhile to consider the following questions before zeroing in on your choice.

1. Do you demand consistent attention of your customers?

As you know, mobile apps are something which escorts us anytime, anywhere as they are comfortably lodged in our gadgets. We think twice before downloading an app, since it takes up space on our smartphone and clutters the screen space. Unless it gives value and command our attention multiple times of the day, we tend to delete it. Therefore, if your business requires continuous engagement of potential/existing customers with alerts, updates, contents, etc. building an app is beneficial.

Corporate/blog websites, media/news sites, etc. that focus on device-agnostic solutions and minimum image requirements can benefit from responsive websites. Here, the need to develop an app is not very crucial. Companies whose soul lies with sales should inevitably develop an app to promote their brand identity and sales. Retailers with a large chunk of loyal customers are the ones who can leverage from an app, for instance; Amazon and a range of other online stores.

2. What are your business goals?

Spend some time pondering on your business objectives. Think about how you can gain from an app. Having an app is a great idea, if your objectives are enhancement and furtherance of brand identity and productivity. Apps can be a great but if your business goals can be met only by updating customers with pertinent info based on where they are currently located; for instance, Uber. If your business idea caters to connecting with people with relevant info as and when they need it (real-time), even if they are away from their desktop, app is inevitable.

A restaurant with a single location can better get listed in directory apps, instead of developing an exclusive app – unless the restaurant wants to engage their customers with something special and unique.

3. Do you want to leverage on competitive advantage?

If your business already has competitors with powerful web presence, but lack a mobile app, take advantage of the situation by creating a brilliant app. Taking the big dive even before your competitors do it, helps you to stand out.

Example: Instagram was incarnated as an app first, before taking up the web form. Mailbox came into existence as an app in a scenario where web dominant mail competitors like Gmail and Hotmail rule. They managed to attract considerable customers because they leveraged on the competitive advantage.

4. Do you have an effective marketing strategy in place?

The main purpose of creating an app is to promote downloads, and thereby more sales and revenue. In order to become highly visible among millions of apps in the app store, you need to craft an effective marketing plan. If you lack money and talent to implement prudent marketing schemes such as as App Store Optimisation (ASO) , there are chances that your app might become a disaster. Think twice before building an app if you are not ready to market it.

9 Best App Marketing Strategies You Can’t Ignore will help you get insights into different app promotion tactics.

5. Are you able to offer unique experience?

If you think you can create an app that will uniquely serve customers when compared to other competing apps, try your hand on it. Getting real value is what potential customers look for before downloading an app. If you are confident in integrating distinctive interactive functionality which will serve your business requirements and goals, go ahead and make one.

Consider Bilateral Mobile Strategy

There is a possibility that with responsive website alone, you might be missing a lot in terms of customers’ attention, and hence sales. Mobile apps offer gripping, unique and mobile specific experience for your customers when compared to responsive websites. If you can afford to have a bilateral mobile strategy including both responsive website and mobile app, you can be a sure champion.

Summing Up

Whether to build a responsive website or standalone mobile app or both, get in touch with a proficient app/web development company for all-inclusive website and app development services. Contact us, and we at Web Network will help you in making the best choice.

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