Why you should choose responsive design vs mobile app


On 03-09-2014 articles, code, responsive design

Responsive Design Verses Native Mobile App

Note that this article is geared toward the small to medium size business. If you are a big brand and a well know website, like Ebay, Amazon, Walmart ect you NEED a mobile app. But if you are a smaller company that doesn’t have the deep pockets like those types of sites, then this article is for you.

Do you have a fat wallet?
Mobile apps are nice, and most are easy to use and very convenient. But there are some reasons why you as a business owner should stick to responsive design verses a mobile app. The biggest reason a company should use responsive design instead of a mobile app is the cost. It is much more expensive to build an app than integrating responsive design into your website. Apps are fairly new in the industry and as we all know any new technology is always quite expensive. Since it is so new, there are not as many companies out there who specialize in developing apps, so the market is quite competitive with a high price tag. On the flip side, as with any “fresh” technology or trend everyone wants to jump on the band wagon, and offer mobile apps as a service. The problem here is you have a wide gap of companies who are really good at developing apps and companies who are extremely bad at it. Usually there is no middle ground.

2 or 3 Operating Systems!
With apps you have Mac, Android and now Windows 8 on the market. All completely different operating systems. Meaning if you want an app that is transferable to whatever operating system out there you will have to build or output 3 different versions of your app! Another reason for the high price tag. Responsive design, you don’t have to worry about different operating systems. Done right a responsive design works on all devices. Regardless if you are on an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or a Windows 8 phone, a responsive design runs in your browser, a universal program that will keep your responsive design around for the long run. You won’t have to do any updates or redistribute your code across multiple OS. Which means less maintenance.

Let’s not forget Search Engines.
There is some buzz around the search engine world that says Google is starting favor websites that have responsiveness. This is great news for getting exposure or finding new customers for your product or services. Going the app route you might be missing out on a little extra search engine juice for ranking your website.

Now What?
Okay so you decided that a responsive website is better than a mobile app, in terms of your budget or the flexibility of your business supporting multiple devices and operating systems. What’s the next step? Well the next step is finding a company that is good at responsive design and isn’t charging an arm and a leg. Since responsive design is a fairly new technique, some companies are treating it like it’s a new technology, and overcharging for it. You should know that responsive web design should really only be about 30% – 40% additional to your overall price tag, aka the “desktop” version. So if your design is a $2,000 price tag, the additional responsiveness should only be about $600-$800 more. If you get quoted a 50% increase or even 100% increase, you are paying too much! As a designer I know that adding responsiveness to your website is really only about an additional 30% more work, and that is what a company should be quoting. Usually what you find is a big markup since it is the “new” or “in” thing at the moment when it comes to web design.