If you are the owner of a small or medium-sized business and are getting ready to give your business an online presence, the sheer number of options you have can be dizzying.
It can feel impossible to navigate the seemingly endless series of decisions you have to make. And you know full well how thin the margins are for a small business; just one significant mistake and your entire business could be at risk for failure.
Thankfully, there is a way to decide whether you need a mobile responsive website or a mobile app depending on the unique needs of your business.
There are two primary ways to make your business' web presence accessible to mobile device users:
1) a mobile responsive website or
2) a separate mobile application.
A mobile responsive website is a standard website, but optimised for viewing on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
A mobile app is two different websites, one for large screens such as laptops and desktops and one for mobile devices.
They each have benefits and detriments, so which one is better for your business depends on your business' specific needs.
Mobile Responsive Website Vs Mobile App?
Mobile apps are actually two separate websites; one for computers and the other for mobile devices. As a result, it makes it easy for the web designers to tailor the mobile experience to the specific needs of mobile device users and mitigate any drawbacks of a smaller screen or a touch-based interface. Because of this, mobile apps tend to be slightly more refined and streamlined than their mobile responsive website counterparts. In addition, because mobile responsive websites represent a fairly new approach, mobile apps are usually less expensive, take a bit less time to develop, and require less expertise.
One of the drawbacks of mobile apps compared to mobile responsive websites, however, is the maintenance. Mobile apps are more difficult to maintain because they are technically two separate websites; any changes to one don't affect the other. Thus, if there is a problem on each website, two fixes must be implemented (or potentially two instances of the same fix). In addition, any updates must be performed twice; once to the standard site and once to the mobile site.
Mobile responsive website
A mobile responsive website is a single website that shifts its layout when viewed on a mobile device. Mobile responsive websites are designed with both standard and mobile viewing in mind, and thus require careful balancing in order to deliver a quality experience to both types of users. Because of this inherent complexity, mobile responsive websites can only be properly built by web designers with specific training in this format. In addition, mobile responsive websites tend to take slightly longer to design and build than mobile apps. These two factors together mean that mobile responsive websites are more difficult and more expensive to design.
However, mobile responsive websites are significantly easier to maintain than their mobile app counterparts. Because there is only one website, repairs only need to be performed once, and any updates or changes only need to be installed a single time. In addition, having a single site makes mobile responsive websites better for search engine optimisation.
If you have more time and money to invest up front but want to cut down on maintenance time and costs, or if you specifically care about maximising the value you get from SEO, then a mobile responsive website is best for your business. If you want to cut down on up-front costs but are fine paying a bit more for maintenance and spending a bit more time on updates, or if you specifically care about maximising ease of use, then a mobile app is the way to go. Both are good options; mobile apps are tried and true, while mobile responsive websites are innovative and bursting with potential.
Watch our video on Mobile Responsive Website Design: 'Get Mobile or Get Lost'
Contact us for more information about which mobile experience is right for your business.