Weighing All Pros an Cons you need to know

Responsive Web Design vs. Mobile App

refresh iconUpdated 12 Jan 2023
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Responsive web design vs mobile app
Responsive web design vs mobile app

Do you want to take your business to the next level? We bet you do! That's why the online presence of your business is of crucial importance. Two of the most common approaches for achieving this are responsive web design and mobile apps. Which one should you choose to get more benefits for your project? It’s a tough choice!

We'll break down the pros and cons of both approaches, so wait no more to start reading this article!

What is responsive design?

Responsive web design is a development approach that ensures appropriate visual experience across various devices (desktop computers, laptops, tablets, phones etc.). A simple analogy: responsive web design can be compared to a rubber band — it can stretch or contract to fit any size, but it always preserves its shape and function. In the same way, a responsive website design modifies its layout and content to fit the screen size of the device it's being viewed on, while still keeping its functionality.

Do you know that you experience responsive web design every day? Just for the note, according to Google statistics, 90% of consumers use multiple devices to visit the same website. So when you visit a website on your desktop and later on your mobile phone, you don't have to zoom in and out or scroll horizontally to view the content because the layout and all the elements have been adjusted to fit the screen size of your device. That’s all about responsiveness.

Key pros and cons of responsive design

Like any development approach, responsive website design has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Ultimately, everything depends on the specific goals and priorities of the project, and which characteristics are most important to you.

1. Enhanced user experience — it helps your users navigate your website effortlessly and provide intuitive interaction no matter what device they’re using1. Technical complexity — to ensure your website performs well on various devices; you need to apply complex coding and testing. Also, it can require more tech expertise to make website updates properly
2. Cost-effectiveness — there’s no need to build multiple website versions specifically for each device type. So, the creation of one adaptable website can save your budget and time for development and maintenance2. Long development time — although responsive web design can be faster to develop than creating multiple versions of a site for different devices, it can still take a significant amount of time to plan and execute properly. Attention to detail is important to ensure that the website accounts for any specific requirements of each device
3. App deveSEO benefits — with responsive design, it is much easier to achieve better search rankings because search engine algorithms prefer websites that provide a consistent user experience across different deviceslopers get around 70% of profit from in-app purchases3. Performance nuances — because your website should adapt to different devices automatically, responsive design can sometimes slow down your site's loading.

Responsive vs Adaptive Design: is there any difference?

Responsive design is often confused with adaptive design. While both of these approaches are aimed at smooth user experience across different devices, there is a difference between them which is important to take into account before you start your development process.

Responsive design is about building a website that adjusts to the screen size of the device it is viewed on. All the elements (website layout, content, and images) are adapted dynamically thanks to fluid grids, flexible images, CSS media queries, etc.

An adaptive design pattern implies the creation of several versions of a website, each optimized for specific screen sizes or device types. When a user visits the website, the server detects their device type and provides the needed version of the website.

Both options are good depending on your project goals and available resources. However, keep in mind that responsive web design requires less time and effort to develop and maintain after release.

When should you choose a mobile app?

Another way to establish an online presence for your business is to develop mobile app. Unlike a responsive website, a mobile app is downloaded and installed on the user's device and can run without Internet connection. We recommend choosing development of mobile app if you’re focused on the following benefits:

mobile app development

01. Enhanced customization — mobile apps offer more opportunities for customization, as they are full-fledged software that can provide limitless design and functionality possibilities. With a mobile app, you can create a unique solution that includes all your desired personalization and immersive user experience. Additionally, mobile apps can leverage device-specific features like the camera, GPS, and push notifications to provide unique features and functionality that may not be possible with a website.

02. Smooth performance — designing a mobile app, you automatically adjust it to a certain platform, taking into account the specifics of the operating system and hardware. That’s why overall performance is almost perfect, without loading delays or other errors.

03. Increased brand visibility — mobile apps are displayed on users' home screens, providing a constant reminder of the brand and encouraging frequent usage.

Is monetizing content and frequent updates in your list?

More options to generate income — one of the best benefits of applications for mobile devices is great monetization potential. In-app purchases, subscriptions, or in-app advertising — it’s your chance to earn more! These options look more organic and, in most cases, users are very likely to pay for them as they can gain additional usefulness or perks. In comparison, to monetize a responsive website you should apply advertising or sell products/services directly on the site. So if you’re looking for convenient monetization, the development of mobile app will be a great option for you.

Talking about frequent updates, their implementation is more effortless with a responsive design. It’s simple as that: updates can be made to the website's code or content, and users will see the changes immediately upon reloading the website.

On the other hand, the update of a mobile app requires submitting the renewed version to the app store, and then some time is needed to get review and approval. Moreover, some users may not immediately update their app, which can lead to performance issues if there are significant changes to the app's functionality.

What other mobile app development pitfalls you should consider?

1. Less accessibility

 If your user has an old device or limited storage space, he could experience some problems with access to your app. In contrast, responsive web design ensures access from any device with an internet connection.

2. Higher development cost

Mobile app designing requires more expertise, so the developers’ rates are higher. It also may take you additional cost if you want to create apps for different platforms. In this case, you should hire Android developers, iOS developers, or highly-qualified experts that can deliver cross-platform apps.

3. Limited opportunities to reach new users

Responsive websites can be accessed with one click. To interact with a mobile app, users need to install it first. People are lazy by their nature, so any additional action may discourage users from using your solution.

Which solution is more SEO-friendly?

As we mentioned previously, responsive website design will be more beneficial for your project if you want to implement SEO. Why so? Let’s take a closer look!

responsive website design and SEO

01. Better search engine rankings thanks to smooth user experience across all devices.

02. With a responsive website, you can save your time and nerves needed to manage SEO strategy implementation. You need to SEO optimize only one website and all the changes and settings will be applied smoothly regardless of the device.

03. The ability to share content effortlessly always has a positive impact on your SEO promotion and ability to drive traffic. Users are more likely to share links to a responsive website's pages and blog posts, whereas mobile apps typically have less shareable content.

04. Thanks to a smooth user experience across all devices, responsive web design can provide you with higher engagement and longer visit times. This can improve your website's SEO by reducing bounce rates.

Bonus. Which solution can improve brand awareness?

And last but not least. What should you choose to increase your brand awareness: to develop mobile applications or apply responsive web designing?

To be frank, both solutions can be effective for building brand awareness. However, there are some factors you should consider:

  • Analyze your audience. If your target users are more likely to use mobile devices, then mobile apps will be more effective to increase your brand awareness. If they are more desktop-oriented, think of responsive website design.
  • If your brand needs comprehensive functionality to fulfill its specifics (e.g. e-commerce, social networks), you should consider the development of mobile apps. In contrast, if you don’t require complex solutions and your goal is to simply provide an online presence of your brand, it will be enough to design a responsive website.
  • If you want to create a one-of-a-kind solution with an eye-catching design and specific animations, mobile app development will provide you with more space for customization and implementation of your ideas!
  • Bonus. What budgets do you need to consider?

    Here's an important piece of advice: never trust freelancers or companies that give you an exact cost estimate for software development right away! It's nearly impossible to accurately determine the cost of a project without taking into account all the factors that influence the final price. These include your project's goals and specifications, the complexity of its functionality and design, the necessary technologies, the location, rate, and expertise of the developers, your available budget, development urgency, and many others.

    man calculating cost for software development

    Without this context, we can’t provide you with precise numbers in this article. From our experience, cost of responsive design creation starts from $2000 up to $75 000 or more. Mobile apps development, on average, takes from $30,000 to $250,000 and can cost even much more. Everything depends on the specifics of your particular project.

    We're excited to discuss this with you and provide accurate estimates for each type of development. Don't hesitate to contact our experts!

    To sum up...

    Both responsive design and mobile app development have their advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, the best choice depends on your specific needs and goals. If you want expert advice or have already made your decision, get in touch with us right now!

    What is mobile app?
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    Online or offline mobile application or mobile app is a software that has been developed for mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet. This is one of the areas of expertise of our team (there are other areas that we work in: Web App, SaaS Systems, CRM, ERP etc.) For such projects, we develop both the mobile app design and the necessary software code. We develop mobile applications for both IOS and Android, as well as hybrid apps.
    Is it the same as tablet app?
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    Smartphone apps and tablet apps are both mobile apps, but there are some key differences that necessitate considering a different approach for tablet apps. First and foremost, tablets have a much larger screen size, which means a different design layout. Additionally, your app may require more features or functionality to fully utilize the available screen space. Another difference is how users interact with the device, as tablet apps need to support a wider range of user inputs, such as stylus pens or attachable keyboards. Finally, tablets usually offer higher performance compared to smartphones, which broadens the list of design and functionality features that can be offered to the user. If you have a need for a tablet app version of mobile app designing, you need to think about it in advance, so we can discuss the development details and set a separate budget for its implementation.
    Do you make apps for both iOS and Android platforms?
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    Yes. Our development and design team specializes in both of these major platforms. In most scenarios, we develop mobile applications for both iOS and Android simultaneously. In some cases, either due to the specifics of the target audience or budget constraints, an app can be developed only for a specific platform. We can do an additional consultation to help you make the right platform choice.
    Can I order a hybrid app?
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    Yes, we are also developing mobile apps as a hybrid modification. Due to the specifics of such apps, you need to consider all the additional nuances and make the right decision. If you need additional advice on this type of web application, we will be happy to answer all your questions.
    Will your company market my app?
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    Yes, this is one of the workflow stages of development of mobile apps. Our team works with all modern platforms, so we can help you pass all stages of verification and publish your mobile application at an online marketplace, such as App Store or Google Play.

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