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The ceaseless evolution of smartphones, the launch of new mobile operating systems on a daily basis, a variety of options for mobile applications and high-speed internet connection have certainly changed the way people use their smartphones. According to Cisco’s recent report, the usage of smartphones has grown up to 7.4 billion. Today, people prefer to use their smartphones to access the internet and thus, insisting companies to move their focus to “Mobile first, Desktop second” tactic to increase their traffic and conversions.

difference between responsive website and mobile app
However, the move from desktop to smartphones requires website designers to reinvent the wheel. There are various ways to go about it such as creating a mobile-friendly version of your website, building a responsive design layout or a mobile web app. A majority of entrepreneurs and webmasters struggle to figure out whether they should design a responsive website or merely launch an app to target mobile audience. It is apparently a difficult decision to make since both the options have their own pros and cons that should be kept in mind while stepping ahead.

Today, in this article, we are going to discuss the major differences between a Mobile app and a responsive website.

Responsive Web Design – one size fits all

Responsive web design is the technique that suggests the implementation of a design of the website that adjusts itself according to the different screen size, OS and orientation to make the website look presentable on every device available out there. The methodology includes the usage of flexible layouts, flexible grids and wise use of CSS media queries. As the visitor moves from one device to another, the design of the site automatically adjusts to accommodate for scripting abilities, image size and resolution.

Pros of the Responsive Web Design Methodology:

  • Build once, use across all the devices – Just with the single code base, you can target your audience on different devices.
  • Offers flexibility and control – All the modifications can be made in one centralized place. You do not need to make changes at different places to render the modifications on all devices.
  • Low maintenance cost – since you need to maintain only one version of your website, the maintenance cost and effort decrease significantly.
  • Improves SEO – Having a responsive website can improve your page ranking significantly. Moreover, Google has recently proclaimed that it ranks websites better that have responsive design layout.

Responsive Web Device Key Challenges:

  • Lack of Natural Navigation– UX and UI conventions for Android, iOS and other operating system are not same. Their appearance is also diverse and thus, the expectations of users are also different. The user interface that works fine on one device may not look the same on another.
  • Poor Performance– Responsive web happens to provide the bad performance to its users due to certain components like animations, infographic, images and videos that make a site too heavy and slow. A web user tends to abandon a site if it takes more than 3 to 5 seconds to load. Moreover, mobile users are extremely goal-oriented, they browse a site to look for a particular information at a specific time.
  • Development time– Building a responsive website design takes a lot of time in comparison to building a desktop version of a site. Creating a site for desktop takes less preparation time, less testing and fewer resources.

A Mobile App

A mobile app is a software which is particularly developed for mobile devices. This software IS not quite common since they are created for a particular OS. These apps are developed and launched to make the interaction of the users with the businesses a lot easier and convenient. These apps are versatile and flexible and allow you to add amazing mobile-specific features like NFC or GPS data, click-to-call buttons, camera and so much more.

Pros of Mobile app:

  • User experience– Mobile apps offer better user experience than responsive websites or other mobile optimization solution as it consists of mobile-specific features.
  • Speed and accessibility– There are various mobile apps that are operated even without the need of an internet connection. In addition, an app loads much faster than a responsive site.
  • Creativity enabled– Unlike a responsive website design, a mobile app can include all the creative things allowing you to think out of the box. Smartphones offer you a variety of features to work with to offer amazing user experience.

Mobile app key challenges:

Lack of visibility– There is certainly a huge competition in the mobile app market where hundreds if not thousands of applications are launched every day. Therefore, the biggest challenge with mobile apps is their marketing and SEO.
Bid adieu to updates- Every new update has to be submitted and approved by the app store, which usually takes few weeks. Moreover, not every mobile app users would like to update their apps every now and them where some of them will prefer staying with the older versions.
Not one app for all mobile devices- Since apps are built for the different operating system, you may have to build many different apps for your different mobile users.
Expensive solution- Mobile apps is an expensive solution for small to medium size businesses since it requires a lot of efforts in terms of development and designing. Moreover, maintaining these apps is yet another major challenge.

Responsive website vs. Mobile app- Which one to use?

Well, choosing whether to develop a responsive website or a mobile app is all about your personal preferences and your business requirements. Since no two businesses are same, their requirements would be different too. In regards to the mobile app and responsive website, there are a variety of development options. However, responsive websites have become a standard for the websites today where even Google has also announced that it will consider responsiveness of a site as a major factor for ranking it.
Therefore, whether you decide on building a mobile app for your business or not, developing a responsive website is always a bright idea. Introducing a mobile app is always an added bonus for business where you can target your loyal customers whereas a mobile-friendly website can help you drive new potential customers to your business.

About the Author: Emma is working as a professionally qualified WordPress developer at WordSuccor Ltd., a reputed firm providing WordPress Development services at very reasonable cost with a global reach. If you are looking to hire WordPress Developer for your next project, Emma can prove to be your right choice. She loves to share her thoughts on WordPress and always looking for learning something new about it.