Does responsive web design trump mobile app development?
Modern businesses cannot afford to ignore the growing influence of smartphones and tablets on the way people access the internet. And yet many companies have yet to adopt either a mobile-optimised site or a dedicated app via which customers can access information, use services or carry out purchases.
Mobile optimisation is an increasingly essential part of fostering a competitive online presence, especially now that Google takes this into account when ranking sites in its search results.
However, mobile apps are proven to generate higher conversion rates than sites and are better equipped to engage with people to shore up brand recognition, even for small and medium-sized organisations.
So should businesses turn to a Hemel Hempstead web design agency like http://www.24-7website.co.uk/web-design-hemel-hempstead to jump on the responsive site bandwagon and cater to all comers with an optimised site, or instead focus on developing a standalone app that customers can install and use as they see fit?
Responsive web design is not just something that should be seen as an exercise in improving user experience; it is a marketing manoeuvre that will make your site much more visible given the recent changes to the way search ranking is calculated.
Mobile users will now be able to see whether or not your site is mobile-friendly before they even click through to it, so if you want to avoid putting people off and reducing traffic then you cannot be seen to neglect this area.
A responsive website has other benefits, including the fact that this approach will eliminate the need to run two separate URLs for desktop and mobile visitors, or having to create another site aimed at those using tablets.
Responsive design has evolved out of necessity, allowing sites to have the kind of elasticity that makes them easy to use irrespective of the platform or browser that has been deployed. And with HTML5 it is simple to include advanced elements and engaging content without coming up against compatibility issues in what is increasingly a post-Flash world.
Apps are different to mobile sites in that the need to be developed for each mobile operating system separately, then pass through the approval processes put in place by the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft. Furthermore they must then gain visibility on the various app stores, be installed by customers and work as intended every time to ensure satisfaction.
The plus side is that a business can use its website to advertise the availability of mobile apps, increasing the marketing oomph of this type of service.
In addition an app sits on the handset permanently, can offer a much smoother experience than even an optimised website and is more likely to result in engagement and conversions because, unlike in a browser, the user is part of a somewhat captive audience.
Outsourcing web design and app development will be necessary for smaller organisations. And ultimately while an app is a good thing to have, a mobile optimised site with responsive design is an absolute necessity today.