Is an app or a responsive site best?


The once-thriving app economy fatigued towards the end of 2014 but over recent months interest has started to build again, re-igniting the much debated battle of apps vs responsive.

With mobile usage continuing to soar it is critical you deliver your brand to your users in the correct way, but how do you know if you should design a responsive website that works across all devices or just focus on building a mobile app?

It may seem a tricky decision but by focusing on your objective it can actually be quite straight forward. What do you want the end user to be able to do and what experience do you want them to have?

So what is the difference between the two?

Responsive mobile sites, like any website, consist of browser based HTML pages but they adapt their design and layout depending on the screen size being used to view it. They can display text content, data, images and video and also feature ‘click to call’ actions. 

Apps are applications that need to be downloaded and installed onto a mobile device. An app can pull content and data from the internet, or it may download the content so it can be accessed without an internet connection. Generally apps are tools or utilities.

Which is best for my business?

It all depends on your objective. If you are a utility company, for example, a section of your website may be where customers can submit meter readings, in this case it would be best to design an app where the sole function is to submit meter readings. Apps should be considered when a user requires multiple repetitive interactions and access to native phone features. But if your objective is to offer all of your content to the widest audience possible then a responsive mobile site would be best.

Advantages of an app for businesses

  • Push notifications allow you to inform your users about latest developments directly.
  • Apps can strengthen a brands image.
  • They are faster to navigate.
  • As your users details are stored within the app, it makes it possible to propagate custom adverts to help increase sales/enquiries.
  • Integration of apps on social media can also boost the reach of a business.

Advantages of an app for users

  • Users are always logged in as it is on their personal device.
  • Repetitive tasks are streamlined, for example, online banking.
  • Apps are quicker so the speed in which you can access and use an app is a huge advantage.
  • Apps can be accessible without the internet meaning they can still go in and use an app where a mobile site requires an internet connection.

Advantages of a mobile responsive site for businesses

  • Responsive mobile sites can reach your users across numerous different types of mobile devices, and URLs are easily integrated within other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR codes and NFC.
  • As responsive mobile sites are single sites with different layouts, the process of maintaining a website is streamlined. Meaning, you can update a page once and the change will take effect across all devices instantly.
  • Lower development costs as there is only one version to build which works across all devices.
  • Intensive functionality can be performed without impacting the performance of the users phone.

Advantages of a mobile responsive site for users

  • All content of the site is available.
  • Mobile responsive sites save users from downloading to their device, meaning their device memory is not being used up by downloading at app. They still create a shortcut to your website and store it on their device.
  • Familiar.
  • A mobile site is accessible across all platforms can be easily shared among users.
  • Updates to sites are instant for users.
  • A responsive site makes it easier for users to browse and buy on their mobile.

So before taking the plunge into building an app, responsive mobile site or both ask yourself, which would benefit your consumers more. Contact us if you would like any additional information or if you want to discuss whether an app or a mobile responsive site may be the right fit for your businesses needs.

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