Developing a Mobile App vs. a Mobile Responsive Website
Are you considering the best way to reach your customers as a business? If so, then the question of whether to develop a mobile app vs. a website will likely have been raised already. Choosing between the two can be tricky, especially as you may consider both to be very similar to one another. It’s defining each and their differences, as well as how they relate to your business, which will be important moving forward.
So, with that in mind, here are a few of the reasons that you may need to help you choose between a mobile app or a responsive website:
What’s the Difference?
First things first, it is important to establish the difference between an app and a mobile website. As then you have a clearer idea of why one be more in your businesses favor vs. the other.
A responsive mobile website is a site that has been specifically designed for mobile users. It will be akin to your desktop site, but with mobile-friendly differences that make the experience on a smaller screen much more pleasant. A good example of this is the sidebar being moved from the side of a screen to the end of the content. Whereas, a mobile app is a customized application based on your device. These often are created with a unique design and functionality in mind.
For this reason, the intention behind your app or website may determine which format you choose. If you want to deliver a very brand-specific experience, for example, then an app may be ideal. Whereas if you want to be accessible to everyone, then a responsive website may be key.
There are several different pros and cons to each side of the debate, so it’s important to equally consider both sides of the argument when making the choice. As if you pose this question to an app developer or web designer, they may give you contradicting information. The different pros and cons can include:
Pros of a Responsive Website
- Both your desktop and mobile users will be served an optimal experience.
- User experience improves.
- Costs reduced (don’t have to pay for an expensive app – double development).
- Able to SEO optimize for the web – more people will find you!
Cons of a Responsive Website
- Users with older devices may have a poorer experience.
- Mobile speeds are often much slower than desktop counterparts.
- Developing a dual-responsive website could increase development costs (though it is typically standard in modern web development).
- You can’t always control the exact way your content is served, as it transforms for each and every device type. Serving slightly different content for everyone.
Pros of an App
- Stay connected with users at all times.
- Allows push notifications directly to the user (reminding them of offers, etc.).
- Access to app content and services at all times, even when offline.
- Quick loading with numerous functionalities to suit all business functions.
Cons of an App
- Large apps can take up room on a user’s device, causing them to delete.
- Apps are difficult to optimize for search.
- App development is a much more time-consuming enterprise.
- Updating an app can be costly, often meaning a full redesign for entirely new functionalities.
- If your app is ‘pay to download’, you will have to share the profits with the app store. Whereas, on a website, all profits go solely to you outside of typical maintenance costs (hosting, domain names, etc.).
One or Both?
Alternatively, rather than deciding between the two you could choose both. You want to reach multiple people, but you want to serve a particular kind of experience as well. If this is the case, then choosing both an app and a mobile responsive website may be the way forward. This is especially important if you’re a larger business wanting to reach a bigger user base, even with the added expense of developing both at the same time (or staggered, depending on budget capabilities).
For smaller businesses, it’s not necessarily a choice but a necessity that means a choice must be made. If so, then it is important to consider your current business and what platform offers the best-matched results. You may find, when just starting out, that a responsive website is the best option most of the time. This allows you to grow and reach more people via SEO and search engines in other ways (such as via paid ads with PPC).
All in all, you need to make a decision that is tailored toward your specific business. It’s not always evident which would be best, especially if it is not necessarily a question of budget, but functionality. Both can be powerful tools when used correctly or fall to disuse if not appropriate for your business scenario.
Investing in either can ensure the longevity of your business. So, be sure to choose the right model to suit you and your functional needs. It may create a whole new path forward for your business.