Responsive Web Design vs. Mobile App

With the advent of tablets and Smartphones, one can log on to the internet from anywhere and at anytime. This leads to a difficult decision that rests upon clients of opting for either a responsive web design, mobile app, or both. Let’s look at the difference and benefits of both to simplify things:

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a website building technique that allows running a website on laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobiles.

It poses many benefits, with some of the major as follows:

  • Single project – A website, once built, can run across all devices.
  • It can be viewed on any screen size from 20” monitors, 10” notebooks to 3” smartphone screens. Whether the screen is landscape or portrait is also considered.
  • Better SEO: a business with a single version can achieve better page rankings. Many issues have been witnessed when a business has two or more separate versions of a website because it negatively impacts page ranking.
  • Centralized location and single link leads to reduced maintenance cost and effort.
  • Better control and flexibility- with one version to manage, changes can be made at the central place as opposed to making them at each vendor’s mobile or web applications if you have chosen different development companies.

Mobile Web App (Native App)

Mobile apps are designed to run on all kinds of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. These apps can be downloaded for free or by payment through an application distribution platform such as Google Play, Apple App Store, Windows Phone Store, or Blackberry App World.

Some advantages of building a mobile web app are:

  • More interactivity and gaming- an app is always the best choice for interactive games, Angry Birds is a notable example in this regard..
  • Builds regular usage and provides personalization – Apps are a great way to allow users to use your services regularly and personalize them according to their needs (think Whatsapp).
  • Helps conduct complex calculations ad reporting effectively- apps are great and effective at allowing you to manipulate data with complex calculations, charts, or reports (think banking or investment).
  • Improved native functionality and processing- mobile web browsers can effectively access mobile specific functions such as SMS, GPS and click-to-call.
  • No connection requirement- an app provides the best way to enable offline access to content and perform function without network access.


The decision to choose between an app and a responsive web design depends on your end goals really. If the end goal is to provide high quality content access to the masses across all mobile devices, a responsive web design would be best. However, if you want to develop an interactive game then an app should be your selection of choice.

Again, some cases may necessitate having both. Regardless, it is recommended that you have a website before building an app.