About 60% of internet surfers use smart mobile devices, and their number is only growing with time as smartphones and tablets become more versatile and powerful; therefore, businesses cannot afford to ignore the mobile market. Business owners often face a dilemma when it comes to expanding their online presence to mobile users. When presented with a choice of either an adaptive website or a compact mobile app, many entrepreneurs end up making wrong assumptions and choices.
Neither is wholesomely better than the other, but they both have unique benefits for various applications. So, before you hire app developers or web designers, here is a brief breakdown of both approaches to help you make a wise decision.
Responsive design simply refers to web pages that resize and adapt to any device, browser and platform. For large interactive sites, a subset of the website with features optimised for mobile devices is hosted on a separate URL where it is only accessible via mobile devices.
The two main advantages of responsive web design are cost-effectiveness and SEO benefits. Google favours mobile sites over desktop sites, and even awards them with better SERP ranking. Partly because they get more traffic than desktop sites, and partly for their satisfactory user experience. Compared to developing a mobile app, the cost of web development is significantly lower. In addition, web pages reach a broader audience compared to apps.
A mobile app is ideal when you want to focus on particular interactive functions that cannot ideally be duplicated on a mobile site. Apps also have the benefit of fully optimisable performance so you can have more functionality with fewer demands. From a marketing perspective, mobile apps are better at increasing brand awareness and brand-product association. This is because mobile users can always see the app icon on their phone’s app screen, which reminds them of your brand.
Mobile app development, however, comes at a cost. First, you have to develop native apps for the two popular mobile platforms at least – Android and IOS; you can also go for Windows and BlackBerry apps to cover all mobile users. Some apps can cost up to three times more than their web equivalent. Second, you will have to convince your audience to download and install the app, which is sometimes difficult without offering an incentive. If you already have a website, a mobile app is an entirely different entity requiring additional maintenance and system integration.
The choice between a mobile app and an adaptive site largely depends on the goals that you want to achieve. For extensive engagement and functionality, go for an app. If you’re going to replicate your website on a mobile platform to increase web traffic and SEO ranking, a mobile-adaptable site is the better option. However, there is no harm in going for both. Many e-commerce businesses run both an adaptive website and a mobile app concurrently to ensure that all bases are covered.