When it comes time to decide what sort of technology strategy is right for your business, one of the questions many people get stuck on is: Should I build a responsive website or invest in a mobile app? Having worked as a Project Manager for a prominent mobile app developer, and now working as the Senior Product Designer at Site Assembly, I am in the unique position to share the pros and cons of each approach to help you decide the right path to take for your business.
Mobile App Development
If you’re a small business with a niche customer base and a hyper-focused product or service, a mobile app may be a good, supplementary fit for your responsive website. Notice, though, how I said supplementary. If you own a painting company and your goal is to make it super easy for your existing and future customers to get free estimates, instantly, then developing a free mobile app may be the answer. Or, if you’re a delivery-based company who needs to keep track of your drivers and gauge completed deliveries, creating a mobile app may be a good fit.
Mobile Apps aren’t all they’re chalked up to be. One thing many app agencies have done well is to make developing a mobile app for your business appear as if it’s the only good option. It’s a lie! Don’t fall for it. You can, and should seriously consider, the benefits of going responsive rather than developing a custom, mobile app. And if you’re thinking about paying a few hundred bucks for one of those App Builders, do not even think about it!
Unless you fall into a small category of businesses that truly cannot achieve their desired functionality, optimally, through a responsive website, then exploring the feasibility of developing a mobile app may be the way to go. Otherwise, it’s likely that your best bet to convert site visitors into customers and market your business is to go responsive.
Pros of Building A Responsive Website
A well-designed, responsive website should act similarly to a mobile app when visited by a user. What I mean by that is, if I am an artist who wants to showcase my artwork and provide a platform for other artists to showcase their artwork, a proper responsive website, when viewed on a mobile device, has the ability to act and feel like a mobile app. Logins and signups, commenting, and “liking” are all features that can be seamlessly integrated into a website and optimized for a mobile experience.
While you may only be able to access a website by entering the URL into the browser bar, or, saving the site to your Home screen, the overall experience will be similar to that of a mobile app, once you arrive on the site.
Features from a Desktop version of the same website may have more user features or larger design elements, while the mobile-responsive version may appear “stripped down” with fewer features and more whitespace. The point here is, if you hire a good design team like you’ll get at Site Assembly, accomplishing an optimized mobile experience by way of responsive web design, rather than mobile app development, is not only possible, it’s expected.
While there are truly endless possibilities for designing a responsive business website, there are certain use cases that call for the development of a mobile app. Games, GPS-based apps, and mobile-first social networks are a few examples. Otherwise, it’s probably in your best interest to consider the benefits of a responsive website. Responsive websites have the ability to look good on desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile screens simultaneously. Whereas, mobile apps are typically developed natively, or, for one, particular platform.
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