Responsive Websites vs. Web Apps and Native Apps

A minute on the Internet is like a month in real time. Or something like that.

On the web, things move at lightning speed, and it can be daunting for small business owners to keep up. Instead of worrying about technological advances and trends that may never take hold, most small business owners focus on what has worked for them in the past. And that makes sense – to a point.

But think about the early days of the Internet. It was like the Wild West. Businesses large and small could launch a website and make money just because they had a website and their competitors didn’t. Imagine getting in on that.

Now, think about what’s going on with mobile marketing. You’d be hard pressed to find a teenager who can carry a conversation without checking his or her phone before the end. But in this case, what is bad for human interaction is a virtual gold mine for advertisers.

So, clearly you’re sold on mobile marketing. Now, it’s just a question of how.

Responsive websites, web apps and native apps are three popular choices. Let’s take a closer look at each before we compare them.

Responsive Websites

Responsive websites are designed to work on any platform as it is a custom CSS stylesheet that makes the website look great on any device. So, whether you’re accessing it from your PC, iPhone, Android or tablet, the your website will format perfectly.

Web Apps

Web apps are often confused with mobile apps, and with the advent of HTML5, the lines are becoming even blurrier. Web apps look and feel very much like mobile apps – they even store data in your browser’s cache, so much of the app can be accessed offline.

Mobile Apps

You know when you go to the App Store or to Google Play and download an app? Yeah, those are mobile apps. You’ll notice that they are usually designed for a very specific and narrow purpose. One may be a game. Another may help you with your banking. You may even download an app to help you find the best vegetarian restaurants in any city. They are usually designed to be helpful and interactive. They often allow some sort of purchase to be made within the app (score for you, the business owner).

Responsive Websites vs. Mobile Apps

Should you design a responsive website or a mobile app? Well, the answer is that you should do both – if you can. Many small businesses end up choosing between the two for budgeting reasons, but with the tools available today, that’s probably not necessary.

A responsive website and a mobile app share many of the same purposes. First and foremost, they allow users to interact with a brand through their mobile phone, so either way, it’s a step in the right direction.
If you’re building both from scratch, a responsive website will be much less expensive than a mobile app. This is why many businesses choose to go with a responsive design and call it a day.

Also, 67% of mobile users said they would be more likely to make a purchase from a website than from an app. And the statistics show that this is true for most large purchases. Although, in-app purchases for small-ticket items remain strong.

Web Apps vs. Mobile Apps

Okay, here’s where it gets interesting. Most consumers can’t tell the difference between a web app and a mobile app once they have been installed. They look and feel exactly the same to many people with one major difference. Mobile apps can access things on your phone that a web app cannot, such as your camera and GPS and Push Notifications.. This may make a huge difference for your business.

Another benefit to mobile apps over web apps is that they are readily available where users are searching: the App Store or Google Play.

Responsive Websites vs. Web Apps

We should be able to wrap this comparison up rather quickly. A responsive website usually eliminates the need for a web app (or vice versa). Unless you are building the web app to complement your company’s website and brand, there really isn’t a need for both. Web apps are most often used to create a mobile version of a non-mobile-ready webpage.

By now, we hope you have a better understanding of how to approach the mobile market with your brand. Ideally, a responsive website combined with a mobile app will answer all of your needs. The website will feature everything in an easy-to-access format while the mobile app may have a more specific focus, but it will interact with users in a way that a website cannot.

If you’re thinking about forgoing the app, consider this: App usage accounts for about 27% of consumers mobile time.

And here are a two tips to get you started:

• Use analytics to find out which operating system is used most often to access your website. This is the operating system you should use to develop your app.
• Match the features of your chosen operating system with the type of app you’re trying to create.
Now, go forth and launch your mobile platforms, whether they be mobile apps, responsive websites or web apps. Just be sure to drop back in and keep us posted on how things go for you!

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