Responsive Website Vs. Native Apps Vs. Mobile Website

Posted on Jun 25 2014 - 8:22am by Chirag Leuva


Multitude of web users now access web on their handheld mobile devices. Mobile devices are steadily surpassing traditional desktops and laptops as devices to access the web. Naturally a website that does not offer a mobile friendly navigation, look and design will lose a great chunk of web traffic. To address this burgeoning trend there have been diverse approaches to offer a mobile friendly web experience. Responsive website can fit to any device in look, feel and workability. On the other hand native apps are more device-specific and mobile website is nothing but separate version of a website made for viewing on mobile handsets. Each of the categories mentioned above have their own pros and cons. Though if you are unsure of what can suit your purpose best, a responsive website can be the ideal option, because it is optimized for viewing in all kind of devices. Let us see below the difference between these 3 kinds of web platform in detail.

Responsive website

A responsive website will adapt to any device it is being displayed on. Whether you are viewing it on your mobile handset, tablet computer or desktop the website will adapt to its size, look, feel and other device specific features. The same content of the website will be displayed with a design that is best suited to the device in use. With a responsive design you do not need to create multiple versions of your websites for different devices. One website will cater to all users by adapting to the users devices. This type of websites also facilitates device-specific commands. For example, while viewed on mobile device a phone number in such website is ready for your command to make a call, just with a touch or button click. Here below are the pros and cons of this type of website.

  • Speed: As a single website will cater to users with all devices the loading speed may vary between devices. In comparison to mobile websites and native apps your loading time may be a little slower. Though it also depends how you can optimize your page speed.
  • User experience: Offering a single website for all devices you may provide a most consistent experience, but it may lack diversity.
  • Technical constraints: As a new technology responsive design may not work well in old devices. There are devices where still the old browsers take lot of time to load a page and even fail to load the fully. Though these constraints will slowly decrease as these devices will be replaced sooner or later.
  • SEO: Obviously with a single website for all devices you do not need to create separate content and SEO strategy for different device users. Your SEO drive will unilaterally hit all users across various devices.
  • Cost:  It is quite obvious that creating one website will cost you less than two or multiple websites for different devices. Thus in cost parameter responsive website is far advantageous than others.

Native apps

Native apps are nothing but apps that are made for the specific device type and operating system. These apps are coded for specific operating systems. For instance Android apps or iOS apps are specifically made to run on Android or iOS devices. Unlike responsive website or mobile website they offer easy and ready in hand availability and speed. It does not need any browser support and is optimized for device-specific features. Here below we discuss briefly on the pros and cons of this web platform.

Speed:  Native apps are just a touch away on your device screen. Without needing any browser support it remains available all the time and updates itself frequently. It is the fastest web experience available on your screen.

User experience: These apps are designed and optimized for specific operating systems and devices. Naturally a far enhanced user experience is guaranteed compared to other web versions.

Technical constraints:  They cannot run on all devices and operating systems. Multiple versions of the apps have to be built for different devices. For example, an Android app cannot run on iOS devices, but another iOS version of the app can be created.

SEO:  These apps have nothing to do with the competition in search ranks. They are not for all web users across all kinds of devices. It offers a device specific approach for the target users of particular type of device or operating platform.

Cost: Native apps are more costly compared to other web offerings.

Mobile website

A mobile website is a website designed specifically for mobile devices. A website designed particularly for mobile devices in its look, feel, design and other attributes address all the opportunities and limitations of mobile devices. Better readability, availability or ready-in-hand features (like clicking on a number and call) and easy navigation on mobile screen count as main benefits of this type of websites. While developing such website some constraints are to be addressed like small screen size, input method (for example, keypad or touch), connection speed (2G/3G), etc. Even mobile devices vary a lot in screen size, resolution, features, input and other attributes. So, website versions developed for mobile devices also have to be designed responsively to fit all screen sizes and device types.

Speed: They load faster than other websites on mobile devices.

User Experience: They offer best user experience to the users as they are made keeping the limitations and advantages of mobile device in mind.

Technical constraints: Website versions designed for mobile cannot offer similar user experience across various types of mobile devices. The difference in screen size, input method (touch or keypad) and navigation may lead to qualitatively different web experience.

SEO: Search engines gives priority to user experience besides other aspects. So websites optimized for mobile use make better ranks in local search.

Cost: Obviously creating separate website for mobile devices is costlier than having a single site for all platforms and devices.

About the Author

Chirag Leuva is a CEO of an iPhone app development company named Yudiz Solutions; where he works to bring client ideas to reality. He enjoys pushing the limits of user interaction and finding ways to create awesome reusable components within a mobile environment.