Mobile app development vs responsive web design

When developing your digital offering it can be difficult to decide which mediums are going to benefit your business the most.

This is certainly the case when it comes to deciding whether to use a mobile responsive website or a dedicated and bespoke mobile application. Both options have their pros and cons, each of which we cover in some detail in this article.

Use this guide to help you decide which is the best option for your business – if you need any further guidance or advice don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is the more traditional option of the two we are comparing in this article. Put simply, a responsive website is a site which responds to which ever platform it is viewed on. For example, a normal desktop website would look small and very difficult to navigate on mobile if it was not created responsively.

Responsive sites are now common place with most websites and are often used as an alternative to bespoke mobile apps due to a number of factors.

The Pros:

Project Speed

One major benefit of opting for a responsive website over the use of a bespoke mobile app is the sheer speed at which they can be created.

This is especially true when your business already has a website in place. Usually this means just a few small tweaks are required in order to make that site responsive to mobile platforms.


A responsive website is usually a cheaper alternative to a dedicated mobile app due to two main factors.

First is the speed with which they can be created, meaning less labour cost is involved in their development. Secondly, due to apps being a newer and more complex platform, the skilled labour and tools required to develop them usually costs more than needed for a responsive website.

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Although almost every phone on the market is compatible with the majority of apps, responsive websites can be used by any phone with a web connection and browser functionality.

Where apps may need to be tweaked and altered depending on the platform you want to run them on, responsive websites will usually work automatically on any mobile web browser.

Search Engine Rankings

Although it is certainly possible to rank on search engines with a mobile app, it is arguably much easier to do so with a responsive website.

Given all the usual efforts which go into boosting a business website on search engines, most of these then translate into good rankings for the mobile site once a responsive design is in place. Using a favicon is another way design and organic rankings go hand in hand.

The Cons:


Mobile websites are generally not as fast or responsive as a mobile application. It can take users a long time to navigate to the app from their phone browser. The content will often take longer to load and navigate once they are there.


Unlike a mobile app, a responsive website requires the user to either re-find the site every time or bookmark it in order to access the content. This introduces an element of effort on the users behalf and means it is less likely to be used beyond what is immediately required.


Mobile App Development

Most readers will be familiar with mobile applications. These types of apps have changed the way we live. They make almost every aspect of our lives easier from finding our way around to being able to quickly buy anything we need right from our phones.

Many businesses make the strategic decision to create apps which can help their customers to quickly access useful information or even buy from them with one click. Equally, some businesses leverage the benefits of mobile application to increase the productivity of their own workforce.

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The Pros:

Increased Functionality

One major benefit of using a bespoke mobile app is the ability it gives businesses to increase the useful functionality of their content.

Due to the fact that apps are built into the operating platform of the phone, it facilitates the integration of other tools and features, making them more useful and allowing them to work seamlessly. One example of this is how social media apps allow you to post content directly from your phones memory.

This type of functionality is occasionally possible, but usually more complicated when undertaken on a web-based HTML5 site.


Mobile apps usually have significantly quicker load times than web pages. This is due to their uncluttered and focused functionality, meaning they are geared towards doing just one or a small number of tasks with great efficiency.


A branded mobile app allows your brand to stay front of mind. Not only does it allow your branding to maintain a permanent presence on the phone screen of your customers, but it also allows brand association between you and the helpful features that the app provides.

In some cases you can also use app notifications to send constant reminders about how the app (and your business) can help.

The Cons:


As we covered in some detail above, apps are a more complex and independent projects to a company website. This means that they take longer to develop and usually cost a bit more as a result.


Although there are a number of options out there, it can be difficult for businesses to get their app accepted by the relevant app provider, such as Apple’s App Store.

This can limit distribution and discovery of your app.

Independent Marketing

Unlike a responsive website, dedicated mobile apps usually require their own independent marketing strategies including efforts for ranking on search engine results.


It is clear that both responsive website design and dedicated mobile applications have a number of benefits which can be leveraged by businesses to help them communicate key information both to customers and their own employees. There are also a number of downsides to both options which need to be considered when selecting each.

In a perfect world, a combination of both responsive websites and mobile app development are a winning combination, complementing each other.

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