Responsive Design vs. Mobile Sites vs. Native Mobile Apps: Which One’s the Best?
With constantly changing trends and a five fold increase in mobile Internet users, more and more companies are aiming to create sites which will make their services available to mobile users. It is a fact that what seems to be more important on a desktop might not be equally important or useful for a mobile user who is accessing the page on a much smaller screen and is on the go. This is why, thinking properly before you choose to build a site for smaller devices, for your company is important. Here you will also have a few different options. These three options are:
1. Responsive Web Design
A responsive website is basically a website which can adapt itself on different screens regardless of the device you are playing it on. You build one single responsive website and it resizes itself accordingly.
2. Mobile Sites
A mobile website is similar to a regular website and can be accessed with the help of different browsers, the only difference being it is created for small-screen devices. Mobile sites are optimized for on-the-go users, contain limited (or rather, necessary) content and are lighter and faster than responsive websites. m.yahoo.com, for example, is nearly 3 times lighter (Webpage Size Checker) and 4 times faster (GoMoMeter) than bostonglobe.com.
3. Native Mobile Apps
Native apps are apps designed for mobile users, usually downloaded from a marketplace such as Google Play. There is a different native app for different platforms, requiring a new set of coding for each platform.
Last year, Facebook turned its back on the build-once-and-deploy-anywhere method (HTML5) and switched its iPhone app to native. Result: the social media giant finally got that long-sought nod from the users.
These three technologies help you gain a mobile presence for your business but each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. Getting to know each of them deeply is a good idea for making an informed choice.
Responsive Web Design vs. Mobile Sites
When comparing these two, you really need to keep in mind as to what the purpose of the site is going to be. If it is a website aimed at providing its users a mobile experience which involves quick decisions and buying and selling, then a separate mobile site scores better on the charts. However, if you need to constantly add and update it with new trends, then a single responsive design site is a better option. This is because, when it comes to easy updating, mobile sites can be a pain because the site would need to be updated twice (desktop version and mobile version).
Also, it depends on what your budget is when you are planning to create a site. A mobile site requires low development charges compared to responsive design sites which need sophisticated coding and heavy technicalities. Other advantages that a separate mobile site holds over responsive design sites include DIY options and affordable web development. When it comes to optimization and SEO, and adding conversion and redirect codes, responsive design websites rule the roost.
Mobile Sites vs. Native Mobile Apps
Similar criteria as to what the aim of your site is, is needed when trying to compare mobile sites and native mobile apps. If your site is related to marketing and needs a wider reach, greater compatibility with browsers and devices and constant updating, than a mobile site will work better for you. However, if your site needs to interact with the users on a personal basis with a requirement of accessing the personal phone data, then a native app is a better idea.
Mobile sites are also a good option if you want your site to be easily accessible and shareable, and you want people to find it very easily. This is because mobile sites are easy to search and can be easily found through any browser. If your company is creating and promoting games, or your services involve reporting and calculations, then a native app works for you better. The area in which native apps are ahead include their ability to work even when there is no internet connection while the mobile sites cannot function in such a scenario. Native apps lag behind when it comes to the budget as they require a high development cost for creating a different set of various devices whereas mobile sites require a relatively low budget.
Responsive Web Design vs. Native Mobile Apps
Looking at the pros of responsive design compared to native apps is a good idea when comparing these two, as you have read about the pros of a native web app above. One advantage that responsive sites hold over the native apps is that there is no need for it to be downloaded from app stores and thus, doesn’t wait for its approval. Also, this makes the job of the user easier as now he or she doesn’t need to update the information again and again. All you need to do is update it once on your main website and the work is done.
The next advantage that a responsive website holds over native apps is the fact that there is cross-platform compatibility and content updates are driven by a Content Management System. The areas where a responsive site lags behind are similar to the mobile sites which include inability to work without an internet connection and a relatively low quality of user experience compared to native apps. One point that needs to be noted here is that both the options need a strong budget.
The above comparison clearly shows that there are pros and cons to each of the three choices that you have to create a mobile presence for your site. It depends on you and the nature of your business as to what would be the best fit for your situation. It’s better to research well and understand your own business for best results.
About the Author:
Diksha Arora is a writer/emarketer working with PixelCrayons, a Web/mobile development firm. Seeking native mobile app development or planning to hire mobile apps developer? Get in touch with PixelCrayons today!
Published February 19th, 2013 by Diksha Arora