Native Mobile App vs Responsive Design

March 27, 2015

It can be a hard choice to decide between a responsive website and native app, especially if you have a limited budget. Both a responsive site and a native app have their pros and cons and you need to consider both before you make your decision. Ultimately the choice rests on the goals of your business - the native app will provide a mobile centric experience for your users whereas a responsive website can offer an optimized experience to your users. Here are some thoughts to consider when making your choice.


Building a responsive website is undoubtedly the most affordable of the two options but remember to factor in both the cost of the redesign and the occasional upgrades after. Here are some reasons you may choose to have a website redesign:

  • Universal: If your goal is to be widespread and accessible from any device then choose a responsive website.
  • Time frame: Typically, a responsive website takes less time to create because there aren't any strict guidelines to follow, like those coming from Google, Apple and Windows. If time is an issue, a responsive site is a better option.
  • Do you want to increase your visibility in search engines? Is SEO an important part of your strategy? If you answered yes, then a responsive site is a better option for you. A native app sits in a closed environment and cannot be indexed.

Building a responsive site over a native app should not be viewed as the easy and cheap way out. The native app will offer your users a functionality that cannot be experienced on a responsive website and it won't have some important features like GPS or a camera. You must consider your goals and then choose a best fit for you.


You can use data that you have collected through Google Analytics to help you decide which option is best. Firstly, you can look at the data to see what device people visiting your site are using. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can also view which operating system your users are using to help inform your decision. You can use this data to determine if your users are visiting you on their mobile, and whether or not they have an iOS, Android or Windows phone.


A mobile app typically collects more data on your users so you can tailor a more personal experience for them. You can send them push notifications with recommendations, content and other call to actions. This makes it easier for businesses to push users through a purchase funnel by offering them relevant and targeted information. If this is a priority for your business, then a native app is the best choice.

Whether you are looking for a web design company or a native app development company, Prototype can provide both services.

Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser


Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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