Comparing Responsive Websites and Mobile AppsBy Guest Author | Posted 2014-09-10 Print
Most companies need to extend their online presence beyond the desktop. This means weighing the benefits of a responsive Website compared with a mobile app.
Mobile apps wouldn’t make sense in this case, since their real benefit lies in the fact that they can be accessed anywhere. Paying (on average) much higher development costs for this advantage when it isn’t something your business needs is a waste of money that could better be put to work streamlining your sales funnel.
On the flip side, if your business really wants to increase brand recognition and stay closely engaged with your audience, a mobile app will be the right call. Not only does it allow for much better functionality and customization, but you can also work on building engaging content that stands alone beyond your Website. By doing this, your mobile app can keep users engaged with your brand and persuade them to come to your site to convert later.
The benefits of a responsive site aren’t as important because you aren’t interested in generating straight sales. Also, the hassle of requiring an Internet connection coupled with lack of direct access to your user’s phone is a major disadvantage.
4. How quickly does it need to load for users?
Depending on how you expect users to access your business on their mobile device, load time might factor into your decision. If you want users to load your app quickly when they are in a certain location, such as a store, a mobile app is the way to go. Apps load much more quickly than responsive sites and don’t require users to go through their browser to interact with your business because the app is directly on their phones.
Conversely, if you expect users to be looking at their phones for an extended length of time, a responsive Website will be a more reasonable option because you don’t have to spend the extra money to increase load speeds.
5. How quickly does content need to be live?
This shouldn’t be the first question you ask when weighing your options, but it is certainly important. This is particularly true if you want your content to coincide with a short-term sale or give-away to drum up interest.
When it comes to ease of launch, a responsive Website has a clear advantage over mobile apps, mainly because a responsive site is just an extension of your existing site on mobile browsers. As a result, although it may take some time to complete, creating a responsive site is a much easier process for developers.
Mobile apps lag behind due to their hefty development resource requirements, and because they require a third-party approval process for each app before it can go live. While the app store can be a great benefit in certain situations, for development timetables it is a major hindrance.
A responsive Website can go live as soon as development and testing are complete, but a mobile app needs to be screened before it can go live. This can result in major snags if the app isn’t immediately approved, and, even if it is, it still adds time to the process. If your business needs a quick mobile solution, consider whether that’s a price you can afford to pay.
By asking these five questions, you’ll be well on your way to investing in an appropriate mobile platform for your business. The success or failure of a mobile app is going to be in ROI, so understanding what your financial outlay will buy and whether it will produce what you need from your mobile presence will dictate how successful your business is in dealing with your mobile users.
Austin Paley is the corporate marketing communications manager at Blue Fountain Media, a full-service digital agency that focuses on creative solutions for companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 1000.
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