Responsive Web Design vs. Mobile Apps – Which Is Right for Your Business?


September 20, 2016 By

Cheryl Dykstra


You might have heard the phrase “mobile first” recently in regards to optimizing your business’ online presence. The idea behind this is that with people using their smartphones more and more, and sitting down at their computers less often, it is important that you think about how your business is seen on those mobile devices.

Essentially, your mobile experience is one of the most important aspects of your digital marketing.

However, even if you know that your business needs to adapt to mobile, you might not know the best way to make this happen.

Responsive Web Design

We’ve talked about Responsive Web Design in the past and how it can seamlessly resize and/or restructure your website design to any device it’s viewed on. This automatically gives you two advantages over mobile apps: time and money.

Your website, the core marketing tool of your business, is a necessity. Without a quality website for customers to visit, your business will have no platform to sell from. By utilizing responsive design, you don’t need any additional work to be done in order to have a mobile-friendly site.

However, there is some functionality that mobile apps offer that a responsive website can’t. These include: 

  • Push notifications
  • Access to phone functions outside of the browser (such as access to the camera or calendar)
  • Other technologies such as QR codes, voice recognition and augmented reality

Depending on your business and your products or services, these additional functionalities may be beneficial or they could only result in extra costs.

Native Mobile Apps

If you look at the statistics, native mobile apps dominate browsers in mobile usage. In fact, 90% of the time people are on their phones, they’re using an app. However, you have to take this statistic with a grain of salt, because most of that app usage is from Facebook, messaging, games, and utility apps – not necessarily apps developed for businesses.


If your business will greatly benefit from the additional functionality that a mobile app can offer, then it might be worth exploring how much time and money it would take to build and maintain a native mobile app. Also, if your business has low price point products or services to offer within the app, like buying virtual goods, membership to the premium version of the app or access to additional content, then an app might be a good addition to your digital marketing toolbox.

Which is Better?

The key take-away when talking about responsive web design and native mobile apps is that there’s no one universal answer to which is better. Your business and your products and/or services will dictate whether or not an app is worth the extra time and expense.

The differences between responsive web design and mobile apps are like differences between a car and a motorcycle. One isn’t better than the other; it is just a matter of taste and needs.

If you have additional questions about responsive design or if you need help deciding if a mobile app is right for you, call Sales & Marketing Technologies today at 407-682-2222 or use the contact form below to get in touch with one of our talented team members.

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