Responsive Website vs. Native App: Unique Solutions for Unique NeedsHeena Banga
There isn’t much our phones can not do. It starts with the morning alarm, checking up on the calendar, catching up on news, navigating through traffic, a bit of shopping and entertainment, connecting with friends, and more. While it all brings convenience for users, it also represents limitless opportunities from a business’s perspective. After all, if you look at some of the most prominent brands in the market, most of them are either built around mobility or have mobility as a major business component. And that precisely what we are going to explore here- whether to build your application only for mobile, i.e native application or to keep mobile devices only one of the many possible dimensions.
It has been more than two years now since the traffic from mobile devices outstripped that of originating from desktops and the growth curve has only been rising ever since. To accommodate such swelling audience, developers devised a new method- responsive websites. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors and decide when each of those solutions is more suitable:
To access a responsive website, all you need is a device with a browser, working internet connection and the corresponding URL. For a native application, that list is quite long- a compatible device, enough data, and storage to download the application, willingness to share a host of data, and more often than not, creating an account.
The point here is, if you have a responsive website for your business, all the 3.5 billion smartphone users in the word are your potential customers. With a native application, that number is highly fragmented. If you have a native iOS application, your business would remain out of reach to eight out of ten smartphone users. If you choose to go with Android, you would miss out on the most lucrative set of users.
On a similar note, as easy it is for users to land on a responsive application, equally frictionless it is for them to bounce off. After all, the temptation to open a new tab is much higher and immediate than closing an application and launching a new one. But on the contrary, once they leave by the closing tab or uninstalling the app, the friction shifts on the side- making it more tempestuous to launch the website than installing the app.
Because responsive applications are basically websites displayed appropriately on a smaller screen without custom navigation and other UI elements, the user experience they offer is average at best. Native applications, on the other hand, are built from ground-up to create a perfect user experience with custom elements suited for small screens. This is perhaps also the reason why native mobile applications offer much higher conversions- even more than desktops, followed by responsive websites.
Web applications have evolved a lot over the years with many features like location access, notifications and more but there are still some features that can only be offered in a mobile app. Things like TouchID or mobile payments simply aren’t compatible with responsive websites. Though these obviously are drawbacks, their importance depends largely on how critical they are to your product or service. If your service needs to have a robust payment system, the mobile application is the only viable choice as responsive websites can offer limited payment options.
You may already know that building responsive websites costs is significantly less than developing native apps. Plus if you factor in their wider availability, it becomes even more appealing. So what you need to decide is how much worth is the user experience and performance for your service. If that cost exceeds, the monetary benefits of hiring website development services, native mobile apps will still be a better choice. If not, a responsive website will be better suited for your purpose.