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Responsive web design vs Mobile app: How to culminate the dilemma?

Hiren Mansuriya
Responsive web design vs Mobile app: How to culminate the dilemma?

The question that often serves as a common platitude in today’s digitally competitive world is: What to choose between Responsive Web design and Mobile app?

Though you might think there are mixed opinions, things like this, if considered from business perspective, are really complicated. A few simplistic minds might support going for responsive web design believing that certain demographics still prefer to explore the content through mobile browsers. However, you can ascertain that today’s young age group of 18-35 have immense penchant for using relatively minimalist version like mobile apps to interact with brands.

The dilemma as to which one would be highly beneficial can be addressed by focusing on pros and cons of both approaches. In the end, you will realize that ambitious entrepreneurs who wish to capture the widest target market may opt for both device-friendly web design and mobile apps at times.

We are going to unearth solid reality raging around this dilemma. Let’s start by penetrating the actual potential of these digital concepts.

The divide between Mobile App & Responsive Web

The major difference between a mobile app and a responsive website is that website is optimized specially for ease of browsing on mobile device and has compact version of desktop website content. Its URL is usually structured as m.xyz.com. Responsive websites will adapt to any screen size user’s mobile has.

On the other hand, Mobile apps are software developed for working on each Operating System (OS) with unique codebases and UI. Built for separate OS, they are native apps that are quite popular due to its unconventional, straightforward and speedy experience.

Companies nowadays have responsive websites for various device platforms to deliver information of their business especially to new-age customers.

The Pros of Responsive Web Design

Time consumption

Creating a mobile-friendly website is undoubtedly faster than building a mobile app. This is one of the reasons business adore the idea of having a single website that is visible on various mobile devices. Developers can easily transfer the content of desktop version to mobile with minimum hassle.


Able to be scaled to any screen size, responsive website offer tremendous flexibility. The interactions executed on responsive mobile sites is more convenient than desktop as it requires just a smartphone and a touch-sensitive interface.

Affordability and economy

Building a responsive website is relatively more affordable than a mobile app development. Mobile app design is a cumbersome process that demands great attention to detailed strategy. Moreover, developers don’t have to create separate app for each OS or worry about major maintenance expenses. This means less involvement of human force and lean budget.

Easy updates and bug resolution

Mobile app updates require users to download a new version on and off. For website users, the updates for enhancements do not cause this trouble. Updates happen subtly without users being aware of it. Bug fixing is also easier in responsive sites.

Google’s favors

Google emphasizes on building responsive websites, which is an added advantage for search engine marketers. Responsive websites enable easy sharing and linking for contents. Google appreciates such web portals that offer smooth user experience and rank them n top of the search results.


Lack of intuitive experience

In mobile apps, UI and UX design practices are different which produces variety of look and feel for users with diverse tastes and preferences. This also means that building a common app for web and all OS systems will never yield the same intuitive experience as delivered by native apps. Responsive web design can’t offer natural feel and navigation like mobile apps do.

Mediocre performance

Responsive web structure does not give fast and functional response like native apps. Navigating through a mobile-friendly site on a phone’s browser involves poor processing, which is further subject to the volume of active traffic. Users will feel frustrated while waiting for the browser to load the entire page content as it consumes both time and battery power.

The Pros of Mobile Apps

Sophisticated brand presence

Mobile apps are trending and are considered to be a reputed way to connect with customers. Businesses can take advantage of the fact that people interact with their mobile apps quite often. Also, the presence of the app on device screen appears to be sophisticated, sleek and stunning – which adds to boost in brand awareness and engagement and results in enhanced app usability.

Fast performance and light loading

Compared to mobile websites, apps take much lesser time when loading and gives superior performance once built perfectly. Waiting repels customers, and apps with impressive performance and faster response will create a massive appeal among business customers.

A direct approach for customer retention

Mobile apps have a lot to with business growth since businesses can directly approach and deliver to customers in a way users most appreciate. Considering the power to leave users with delightful experience, mobile apps create an optimistic ground for retaining maximum customers. By means of push notification reminders, you can keep them engaged as well.

Apps are sales boosters

Mobile apps mean creating opportunities for increase in sales. Amazon and Netflix are a few great examples that have elicited enormous response, converting more customers than we could ever imagined. Since apps provide convenient facility of online shopping experience, developing a mobile app translates into terrific rewards and returns for businesses.

Better functionality and offline capability

Mobile app not only feature great custom functionality for each OS, but they can also integrate with local device environment. This is not possible with HTML based website. Mobile apps, if crafted to work offline, can support offline capability, which means users can use some of its functions and download its content without internet connection.


Premium resources

Depending on the project scope, development team to be hired is decided along with technology stack to go into building a high-performance app. Website building and modification does not impose as many challenges as mobile app development does.


Not all mobile apps rolled out in app stores perform as expected. If done shallowly, the app may not result into proper brand awareness and marketing. A shoddy app can destroy the whole purpose. To avoid this disaster, perfectionist approach is needed.

Grand investment

To follow a perfectionist approach and make a native app that pampers customers, businesses have to pay more dollars than responsive website. Apps have certain features whose development does take a lot of time and grand investment though the end result is worthwhile.

The end of dilemma: The best choice

After above discussion, we finally come to the point where the dilemma culminates and the best choice surfaces. Businesses who can afford having customer interactions only through mobile-optimized web pages can continue to leverage the power of their web presence.

Alternatively, you can choose having a mobile app to directly approach customers for better customer experience and brand awareness. However, you must be confident that your mobile app investment will pay off in time.

The last option is having both at times? Successful organizations often capitalize on mobile apps and responsive websites since this approach opens doors to unlimited opportunities for business acquisition and growth.

Hiren Mansuriya
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