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Apr

24

Mobile Website vs. Responsive Design vs. Mobile App

— By Angela V.

You’ve made the decision to go mobile, but where do you start?

With so many different mobile approaches it can be hard to choose which one is right for you and your company. There will be many factors to consider to be sure your users have the best mobile experience.

Technology is moving at a fast pace and seems to be ever changing. Your users may be using several different devices to access your website. If you have a lot of content to relay it may be too overwhelming on a small screen. Finding the right method is key to your mobile success.

Mobile Website:

What is it? This is a different version of you site optimized for mobile use. It’s has its own URL, for example “m.domain” instead of “www.domain.” Visitors are redirected to the mobile website when they access your site from a mobile device.

Pros:

  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to access
  • No need to download
  • Cheaper to maintain
  • Similar to an app, it can be bookmarked to the home screen of the device
  • Will work on multiple platforms
  • Can be accessed through search engines

Cons:

  • Can be slower
  • Requires internet access
  • Cannot connect with device features, such as camera
  • Has a different URL than main website

Responsive Design:

What is it? This is the one-size fits all design option. It will make your site available on any mobile device on the same URL. Your site will automatically optimize for the best experiences no matter how a user views it.

Pros:

  • Only need to maintain one website
  • Easy to update
  • No need to download
  • Has the same URL as main website
  • Consistency whether mobile or PC
  • Similar to an app
  • It can be bookmarked to the home screen of the device
  • Will work on multiple platforms
  • Can be accessed through search engines

Cons:

  • Can be expensive
  • Can be slower
  • Requires internet access
  • Cannot connect with device features, such as camera

Mobile App:

What is it? An application downloaded on a smartphone or other mobile device. It is found via the app store on the device.

Pros:

  • Once download it may not need internet connection to access
  • Becomes part of the users mobile device
  • Can connect with device features, such as camera
  • Easy to use
  • Made with a purpose and focus oriented

Cons:

  • Needs to be found and downloaded to device
  • Limited functionality
  • Can be difficult to maintain since it isn’t in sync with your website

As you can see from the above, it depends on your goal. If it’s within your budget, a responsive design may be the best all-around solution for marketing and brand awareness. If you are looking to engage your users and go beyond a website, then a native mobile app would be worth the setup and maintenance.