As the number of smart phones, tablets, and internet accessible electronics continues to grow, the need to create dedicated mobile apps is starting to wane as responsive site design starts to makes sense for more and more companies. Do you write apps for both iOS and Android devices? What about Windows Phone or Blackberry? Do you have the resources in-house to develop, test and deploy them into multiple app stores? What about maintenance releases and bug fixes? Chances are, you’ve already built a responsive website. If you haven’t, you will soon or you’ll watch your traffic decrease steadily as the search engines direct traffic to more mobile-friendly sites.
There are very valid reasons for building a dedicated app, especially if the service you provide will access any of the features of the device like geo-location, the camera, or any function of the smart phone.
If you’re on the fence about choosing one path over another, think about these points:
There’s never enough of it and everything you do takes more of it than you’d planned. Developing a responsive website is usually much faster than an app. If you use one of the excellent CSS frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation, you can shorten the time you need to develop a robust site that looks great on any device.
The old saying that ‘time is money’ is doubly true here. If you don’t have the developers in house, you’ll be forced to use one of the many, many companies out there to build the app for you. As a general rule of thumb, outsourcing your dev work results in less control over the end product and your back-end code will still need to be worked on to make it compatible with your new app.
This is something that trips up a lot of companies getting into the app business for the first time. It’s not enough to just code the first app, you then not only need to make sure it’s compatible with all of the the current devices, but then each update to the Android of iOS software will most likely result in further development time. The same situation exists for adding new features; everything new will take more…. you guessed it, time and money.
Search Engine Optimization
One of the big benefits of building a responsive website over a native app is that all of the search engines know exactly what to do with your site, they know how to index it, get all the keywords and phrases, and most importantly, drive the traffic you need. Mobile apps are generally not searchable and content delivered just there will not show up in search engines.
Hopefully these pointers will help when you’re evaluating the benefits of building an app or a responsive site.