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Responsive Website or App: Which do you Need for Your Mobile Strategy?

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Responsive Website or App: Which do you Need for Your Mobile Strategy?

By smallbiztrends, Guest Blogger
Published: December 6, 2013
The fact that half of mobile phone users now use mobile as their primary source for Internet means that more small businesses need to up the ante. Not all websites render well on small mobile devices, so it may be worth the investment to get more mobile-friendly.
 
But the question is: should you have a responsive website or a mobile app?
 
Let’s look at your business needs to figure out the answer.

First, is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

Here’s an easy way to find out: use Google’s Multi-Screen Resources tool. Enter your URL and get a free report making suggestions for how your site could be optimized for mobile. Some of the suggestions might be simple enough to fix without investing more.
 
If you use Flash, that will probably be one of the pain points that comes up. Not all mobile devices — especially Apple — are equipped to display Flash graphics.

The Difference Between Responsive Websites and Mobile Apps

A responsive website — you guessed it — responds to the medium it is displayed on. For example, when your site is viewed on a desktop, it might display three columns and a sidebar. But if it’s viewed on a tablet or mobile phone, you might see a simplified version with fewer columns and easier navigation.
 
It can be difficult to navigate or click links on a static site when used on a mobile device. Sites can appear cluttered, which may send people away from your site.
 
Mobile apps, on the other hand, are downloaded with a specific purpose. They’re best for brands that have strong customer loyalty (people expect to access the information on the app enough to actually download it). The app might provide your store locations, special offers, or allow users to access their account information.

Next, What’s Your Goal?

If you simply want people to be able to visit your site and have it look user-friendly, a responsive website is the best way to go. If people don’t necessarily benefit from visiting your site while they’re out and about (you don’t have a physical location they need information about or coupons for), simply having a site optimized for mobile is your best and easiest option.
 
On the other hand, if you’re trying to drive users to a physical store or location, an app might do so. Given the fact that 80% of the time on mobile is spent using apps, hesitate before you assume you don’t need one. It really comes down to the value you offer in the application. A map to your nearest location might not be useful, since most users use a Map application, but an app that notifies users when they’re close to a store and offers a special coupon might be.
 
Also if you have a platform where your customers log in to make transactions or you sell products on your website, an app can provide a secure place to do so. Many mobile users may feel more safe entering their login information through an app than through a mobile website.

Why You Must Make a Change

Whichever option you select, it’s important that you take measures to improve the functionality of your website. Here’s why:
  • Slow loading times will cause mobile users to leave your site
  • A page that doesn’t render well won’t encourage people to sell
  • More, not fewer, people will use smartphones in the future
  • The more ways you have to connect with potential customers, the better your conversion
As a business owner, you’ve got to do everything you can to make the trail from your site to a sale as easy as possible. Responsive web design and mobile apps provide just one more way to bring leads into the funnel.

About the Author:

Anita Campbell

Guest Blogger

My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.

Comments:

The time is changing and it's important for the web developers to adapt it with time...Mobile industry is booming and so does the need for responsive sites...I somewhere read that very soon worldwide mobile (smartphone) users will surpass PC users...so Responsive design is the need of the time.. You may also check http://www.galaxyreporter.com/2014/06/top-5-android-kitkat-smartphones-under-rs-8000.html
first main important for any site is that it should be fast and friendly towards mobile devices.
both the web and the smatphone usage is changing..is about time we have proper responsive websites and there correcponding mobile app.
they are both needed equally responsive is a must these days ..speed factor is imp for serp ranking
I think now the responsive site on a mobile phone is the best. Because most people begin to use mobile instead of a computer.
I agree with you. It is easy for people to use mobile than computer.
This is a great introduction to both formats, but anymore, a mobile optimized website (one with responsive design) is essential and a mobile app is really the next step. Mobile apps can provide a lot more when it comes to functionality that a mobile website cannot. These are generally referred to as 'native' features and include phone specific features such as usage of the GPS, camera, dialer, and more. Mobile websites are unable to access these features, many of which can be particularly useful for many businesses. Another very helpful feature are pushnotes, which can alert customers of specials, events, or other urgent information. Really, mobile apps are a great engagement and retention tool to build customer loyalty.
Responsive web design is the way to go as your website automatically configures to the size of the device that someone uses. It doesn't get much easier than that. www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCWWCvu5tqI‎
Hi Anita, I think you can get your answer based on two things, design and cost. With a responsive design, if your site as a lot going on the side bar, optin pop ups etc this can leave mobile users with an unpleasant experience. An app can be fairly cheap to free depending on the service you use. Wordpress.org makes making a site mobile friendly easy. Personally, I never download apps for sites I rarely use and would recommend having a mobile friendly site in place instead of trying to make visitors download another app.
The discussion of Mobile web apps vs mobile apps is resurging especially with the latest advancements in the 'responsive design' front. Mobile web apps (mobile websites) is a convenient option for quickly establishing a mobile presence. The development cost and time to market is way lower compared to mobile apps. Since it is accessed via mobile browsers, they are platform independent. A lot of our customers are also interested in responsive websites recently. Here is a blog I have written on Mobile web apps: [This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.]

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