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Responsive Design vs. App Development: Weighing the Options

February 28, 2017
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There are benefits and downfalls to everything we do in web design and development. There is no perfect solution, but we do what we can to make the best experience possible.

A question often asked by clients and team members alike is “Should my website be responsive, or should I follow through on an app?” While I do not necessarily think one is the right choice for everyone, my answer always leads back to thinking mobile responsive first. Why? Here is a breakdown of why building an app can be very cumbersome compared to a mobile responsive design.


That’s right, out of the gate I will speak to costs. As a business owner or individual looking to optimize their website or web user experience, you often will run into roadblocks caused entirely by the increasing costs in the industry. While building a website is no cake walk for your wallet, creating an app is almost double on every account and can take way more time. Not only do your financial costs skyrocket, but your opportunity cost does as well.


Correct, most apps that you use probably work pretty well. I agree every app on my phone is top notch. However, many times (in my experience) a customer’s goal is conveyed incorrectly, which then leads to an underperforming application.

This problem exists with responsive design but is much easier to alleviate or prevent. When the experience is all-encompassing (being desktop, tablet, and mobile), the goal is clear and defined in depth.

While apps can be much lighter and provide a more tailored user experience, we believe responsive design is much more effective for a business owner.


One of the main arguments app developers have for choosing a native app over responsive design is the “natural navigation” an app can have for users. While this may be true to be able to customize and perfect an app’s navigation, this is not ruled out for responsive design. I urge all of our clients to provide an “app-like” experience with their responsive design. The process is considerably less time consuming and allows users to experience the site without downloading an app.

Not only does the consumer benefit, but the business owner or site curator does as well. You spend less money, less time, and less stress on the sole situation of developing a mobile experience for your audience.

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Another reason for choosing responsive design over mobile app development falls into the basic building blocks of what a responsive site is. The reason you have a responsive design is to allow your site to be flexible enough on any browser on any device, anywhere. Simply, mobile responsive doesn’t quit based on your platform for viewing, while mobile apps can, and will.

If you’re mostly worried about your business being viewed in the best light by the most people, responsive design is your solution.


A bonus argument to hold here is the amount of SEO value you gain with a responsive site. Having a single version of the site shows to be highly valued by Google, rather than producing more than one version in a separate mobile build or application.

Wrapping Up

I urge all readers running a business, an individual site, or content hub to move towards responsive design. Rather than wasting away time and money with an application, trust in having a single site across all devices. Not only do you avoid struggling with the app development process, your site comes out better and easier to access.



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