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Mobile App vs. Responsive Web Design: What Do You Need?

Mobile App vs. Responsive Web Design: What Do You Need?

Posted in Responsive Design on January 15, 2014

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Mobile apps have long been a power house in the mobile industry with the Apple App Store selling more than $10 Billion worth of apps in 2013 alone. Apps are great resources for so many mobile users, but what if you can build something for mobile users that looks just as great without building out an app? In comes responsive design, the latest and greatest tool to ensure your website looks and functions just as great on a computer screen as it does on mobile devices.

Here is how you know if you should pull the trigger on creating a mobile app or responsive design.

When you should create a mobile application

Utilizing In-Phone Features

A mobile application is necessary when your app relies on functionality within the user’s phone such as its camera or geo location. Features like these are not available on a web platform with responsive technology.

Large Data Transmissions

Mobile apps will almost always have a faster load time than responsive design because it relies less on Internet speed. Without this barrier of the Internet, performance is greatly improved.


This is not to say monetization is not possible via web development, however there are many options when it comes to revenue streams within a native app. Streams such as up front app purchases and in app purchases allow for potentially big gains for mobile app developers.

Developer Expertise

Mobile apps are easier to develop in that there are fewer things to worry about when developing features for different browsers. Mobile apps are able to utilize special APIs to help integrate with the software at hand.

When you should create responsive web

SEO Needed

If part of your business strategy is to gain exposure through successful search engine rankings, responsive design is for you. Being that apps are unable to be crawled by search engines, they should not be expected catch the attention of those surfing the web.

Change Often

Responsive design is the better option when deciding between responsive design and a native app in terms of making changes. The Apple App Store, for instance, requires approval for every change made to the app, thus taking precious value away from the user who would benefit from the next best version. Responsive design changes can be updated often with little to no lag time.

Globally Compatible

To ensure your presence in seen in the same across every device (computer, tablet, mobile phones) responsive is the route to take. This will cover all of your bases rather than having to worry about your app being available in its best form on only a few devices.

Budget Concerns

Responsive design is almost always less expensive to create than it would be a mobile application. Responsive web design is easier to implement in terms of length of time needed to launch than it is to do so for a mobile app.

What route will you take? Are there parts of your business or product that are non-negotiable? Do they favor the responsive design avenue or building one of the next best mobile apps?