Deciding Where to Invest: Responsive Web vs. Native Mobile Technology

The tech community is debating the question of whether to use a responsive website or a native mobile app.

The answer is, “it depends.” Before deciding, ask who the user is and what do they want to do? Once you know, the information below can help you determine which technology to use.

Responsive Web

A website or web app that automatically adjusts to display properly on different devices (i.e., computer, tablet, and smartphone)

Native Mobile App

An app for a specific mobile platform (i.e., Apple iOS or Google Android)

  • is more cost and time efficient
    • only needs one code base
    • quicker to develop and deploy
  • requires an Internet connection
  • works on all platforms and devices including desktop PCs and smartphones
  • is easier and faster to maintain and update
  • does not need app store approval
  • can use search engine optimization (SEO) to drive users to the website
  • may work without an Internet connection
  • more costly: separate apps are required for each platform (Android, iOS)
  • must be downloaded from an app store
  • allows a better user experience: the look and feel are tailored to the device
  • performs better: faster load times, less data used and battery lasts longer
  • provides access to device capabilities (i.e., camera, location services and storage)
  • displays more branding: icons on the user’s screen
  • features push notifications
  • is more secure: the connection is between the app and the user, no third party
  • is better for processing large amounts of data

Questions to help you decide

  • Do you have limited resources (e., personnel, time and money)? responsive web
  • Does the app need to use smart phone capabilities (e., camera, GPS and accelerometer)? native mobile app
  • Do you need the information to be accessible on all devices and platforms (e., PCs, tablets, iOS, Android and Windows)? responsive web
  • Do you need the content to be accessible offline (e., no Internet connection)? native mobile app
  • Do you need to push notifications to users? native mobile app

Future of apps: progressive web apps combine the benefits of responsive web and mobile apps. This new technology has limitations, but is an exciting possibility.

If you’d like to discuss your options, please contact us. We’re here to help.


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