We live in a generation where smartphones have become a basic necessity and completely engrained into our daily lives.

It’s actually, pretty crazy.

These handheld devices somehow impact our lives so significantly that life just isn’t the same without them. In fact, the easiest and most convenient way to browse the internet these days is through mobile devices.

If you’re preparing to set up a mobile presence for your business, one of the first and perhaps most important considerations you’ll need to decide on is whether you want to create a mobile application that users can download (app) or a mobile responsive website, or maybe even both.

Before you begin to evaluate the benefits of a mobile responsive website versus an app, it’s imperative to understand the main differences between the two. Both formats are accessed on handheld devices like smartphones and tablets. When it comes down to making a decision whether to build an app or a mobile responsive website, the most fitting choice will depend highly on your end goals.

So, what’s a mobile app?
These are software apps or applications that require being downloaded and installed on your mobile device instead of being accessed through a browser. Downloads are done through mobile platform-specific portals, like Apple’s App Store or the Google’s Play Store for the android market, to find and download these apps for a given operating system. The app may extract data and content from the internet, just like a website, or it can download the content in order for it to be accessed without an internet connection.

What is a mobile responsive website?
A mobile website consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked and accessed through the internet, just like any other website.

A mobile responsive website can deliver more or less the same functionality of an app. It is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch screen interface. It’s becoming the new standard for websites that are not only mobile-friendly, but can also be scaled to any sized device, from desktop, to tablet and smartphones.

Just like any website, mobile websites can display text, data, images and video. It’s also possible to access mobile-specific features like click-to-call or location-based mapping.

Mobile App vs Mobile Responsive Website
In choosing whether to build an app or a mobile website, your choice will depend mostly on your business objectives. For instance, if you’re into developing interactive games, an app would most likely be the more appropriate option. However, if your goal is to provide content through mobile to a wider audience, then a mobile website is probably the way to go.

There are some cases where you think that you need to have both a mobile website and a mobile app. However, it’s rather unusual to build an app without having a mobile responsive website in place.

In most cases, a mobile website is considered the first step in establishing a mobile online presence, while a mobile app is helpful for developing an application for a specific purpose that cannot be sufficiently accomplished through a web browser.

Advantages of a mobile responsive website
If your business goals are marketing related or public communications, then a mobile responsive website makes a practical first step in your mobile internet strategy. A mobile website has numerous advantages over apps, which includes wider accessibility, compatibility and cost efficiency.

  • Highly flexible. With the increasing use of smartphones and tablets, responsive web designs become all the more vital. These web designs scale to any size. Your website can be accessed both on desktop and mobile devices without compromising any user experience related conveniences. Resizing, navigation issues and scrolling problems can all be eliminated.
  • Provides richer user experience. The main goal of any business is user satisfaction. Achieving this is possible if your web design is responsive, where you give your users a chance to access your web page from their convenient device.
  • Low development costs. From a business point of view, managing one responsive website is easier and can be done more effectively. Having one site, rather than 2 separate ones will also cost much less. Furthermore, your SEO efforts will be satisfied because all the users will be visiting only 1 site regardless of the device being used.
  • Highly shareable, interactive and increased engagement. It’s much easier to share, interact and link to contents with 1 single mobile responsive website than on several mobile sites. It’s very likely that as a result of a responsive web design, you’ll experience increasing traffic in no time.

Advantages of mobile apps for business

  • Presence and performance for customer retention. Apps require less loading time because they are lighter and are developed with the primary consideration of the users’ overall mobile experience. Mobile apps are at an advantage with this because of the fact that no one likes to wait.
    Once a user installs your mobile app, the presence of the app on the screen acts like a constant reminder of your brand. Customer retention is better achieved with mobile apps because you can keep reminding them that you are always there by way of alerts and notifications.
  • Increase in sales. Apps are a very convenient means to shop. By getting a mobile app developed for your business, your customers enjoy the comfort of shopping with ease, plus a few more perks, like alerts on discounts, sale and offers.
  • Internet connection not a necessity. Once the app has been downloaded, it’s stored directly in the device, with full accessibility in every context.Gesualdo Bertelloti of Tictapps, a mobile development agency, said “Native apps get the best of the online and offline world. They are able to work on both and complement each other.

Which would you choose?

Choosing either a mobile app, a mobile responsive website, or both for your business depends primarily on your requirements. If your requirements involve creating one of these for marketing purposes, and if your goal is to build a wider mobile presence, you can opt for responsive websites because they are easily manageable and cost effective.

However, if your objective is to provide a user experience that has the feel of a gaming interface, or if you feel that apps can be a platform for alerting your customers about sales and offers on a regular basis, mobile apps would definitely have an edge over responsive websites.

Xtendly helps small-to-medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs by providing affordable website services specializing in mobile responsive website design and development, and digital marketing including web content, and blog writing. For more information, click here.