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programmer, as a concept of building websites
David CalbertApr 14, 2013 10:45:00 PM3 min read

When To Build An App vs. A Mobile Responsive Website | SF AppWorks

The goal of any business is to reach customers, both potential and current. The method of doing so has adapted to keep up with how and where people spend their time. With the advent of print came the distribution of print ads in newspapers and magazines. With television came commercials.


The invention of the internet was no different except that it gave rise to a new type of customer: one that spends their time on several platforms at once. A being whose mind is segmented, consuming different information simultaneously, and is always plugged in. The most significant enabler of this is the mobile phone.


If you’re not already shaping your business to be accessible on mobile devices you are sorely behind the times. There are currently 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions globally and by 2020 this number will grow to 6.1 billion, overtaking the number of fixed line subscriptions. Mobile content is the biggest, and most effective, loudspeaker your business can take advantage of.


But the question is this: should you design a mobile responsive website, build an app, or both?


Depending on your business model, both may be your best option, but it is also the most costly option. If budget constraints force you to choose one, there are several things you should consider.

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1. SEO


If search engine optimization is a large concern, then building a responsive site should take priority over an app. If your objectives are to increase site visits through long form content and media, which would not be searchable in an app, a mobile responsive site is recommended.


Responsive design also allows you to market one URL across all devices and allows users to transition from mobile to desktop seamlessly. This also means that you only need to create an SEO strategy once, as it will function on both mobile and desktop, saving you time and money.


On top of this Google recommends using RWD to reach mobile users, and in fact favors those sites for searches made on mobile devices.


2. E-Commerce


If E-Commerce is a large part of your business, then building for mobile is essential to the longevity of your company. People who use the internet via their mobile devices has overtaken those who use a desktop device, and this includes mobile sales over desktop sales. To ensure that your website presence is as effective as possible, responsive design is key.


67% of users said that they are more likely to purchase from a mobile friendly website. However, the ability to make in-app purchases is stronger for small ticket items. It can be a risky to defer a customer to an app to make a purchase, as they may lose interest in the sale. But if a company feels that customers are already engaged with your brand, such as companies like Amazon and Ebay, then an app may run faster and offer more targeted features.


The best way to determine which would be better for your business is to research how your target audience spends their time online.


3. Access to Customer’s Phone


One way in which mobile apps beat out responsive websites is that they can get access to things on the user’s phone, such as push notifications, GPS, and their camera. People have become inseparable from their mobile phones, and so a direct link to their phone is a direct link to their daily life. This enables you to send out sales promotions and special offers instantly, garnering greater loyalty and engagement from your customers.


It’s also a way to collect important data through surveys and learning where your customers are geographically by using their GPS. Mobile apps can act as non-malicious version of Big Brother to bring you illuminating information about your customers.


If your company could benefit from having this level of access to your customer’s life, a mobile app is the best option.


Whichever option you choose, be sure that the web design company you hire for building an app or responsive website is going to give you the best product at a fair price.


SF AppWorks is a digital agency that can offer you top-notch design development services at a great value, so sign up for a free consultation today.