Why we prefer responsive design over mobile apps

Andrea Ferguson

President at AndiSites Inc.
Andi is founder and President of AndiSites Inc. She writes about website design and development, best practices, and random stuff her busy brain thinks would be useful.
Andrea Ferguson

App fever is easy to catch, and we hear clients all the time asking if they should have a mobile app, or even or a “mobile version” of their website.  At AndiSites we prefer building (or rebuilding) websites using responsive design, a format that reconfigures itself based on the size of the viewport (the screen the user is viewing the website on). 

Take a look at the responsive sites we’ve built for Jackson State University, the UNC Center for AIDS Research, Pyramid Resource Group, and Craven Community College (in partnership with their on-campus web team) to see responsiveness at work.  Resize your browser window down…see how the blocks stack one on top of the other instead of making you scroll side-to-side?

 

We think responsive design is best because of…

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):  Mobile-friendly responsive websites are more user-friendly, and Google gives extra points to websites that can be easily viewed and used on mobile devices.

 

Affordability:  A mobile app or a “mobile version” of your website is essentially a separate website, which can easily double your budget.  By creating a single website that works well on all screens (and puts extra focus on the features that your users would look for in a mobile app), you make the most of your money.

 

Quicker development time:  Obviously creating one website takes less time than creating multiples, even if it means entirely rebuilding what you have now; however, there are other slowdowns that come into play when creating a mobile app.  App store approvals, ever-changing guidelines, and the need to create different versions for different operating systems (Apple vs. Droid) add significant time to the development schedule.

 

A single URL:  Separate websites mean different URLs, which can dilute users’ ability to find and bookmark you.  It also means redirects, which can slow down your site’s performance…never a good thing.

 

Unless…

 

If your business is primarily an online store, travel site, or car dealership, a mobile app (in addition to a responsive website) would be the way to go.  Users have expectations that they will be able to use an app to search lots of information for targeted results.  If your business does something that requires cool mobile phone features (camera, GPS, etc.), you’ll need a mobile app to give users what they need.  But investing in a mobile app just because everybody else has one probably isn’t the best use of your resources.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Take a look at your business, your users, your analytics, and (most of all) your business goals.  Want some help sorting it out?  Contact us–we’re here for you.

 

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