Responsive Web Design: Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile-Friendly Solutions

Mobile-friendly development: responsive web design vs native app

What Is Responsive Design?

What exactly is responsive website design, or RWD? A website with such design responds to the size of the device from which you access it, making the text and images easy to read and view. Such a website adjusts to the internet browser, with which you open it in order to fit into its layout and present the content in the most convenient way. It does not matter whether your screen size is 100 pixels wide or 10000 pixels wide, the website will read this information and adapt its contents accordingly. Of course, given that it is developed by professionals who know the nuances of responsive website creation.

To design a good-looking and user-friendly responsive website, a developer should not only have excellent programming skills, but also an expertise in UI/UX design. These skills are essential if you wish to create several versions of one site in different screen sizes within a single code base to be integrated and provided to the end-user as a simple and convenient responsive solution. Only specially trained experts have the proficiency to decide, which elements to keep on the smaller versions and how to adapt them without losing impact and functionality.

Advantages of Responsive Website Design

  • You do not have to create a number of websites to fit different screen sizes - a responsive website is built on one single code base. This gives you further advantages in terms of search engine optimisation because Google prefers websites with a single code base. Moreover, it makes it much easier for your designers and developers as well. One code base makes it easy to manage your content source - you will not have to upload and update content on a number of different sites. That is exactly why such websites are much better than mobile ones, which have two code bases and URLs and, as a result, are harder to maintain.
  • A responsive website can easily adjust to a display size. A responsively designed site reacts to the width of the browser and optimises the content to fit these parameters. For example, if a display size is too small, it hides large images and certain elements to make the contents more convenient for you to read. There is no need to develop a new version for each device coming out on the digital market as is the case with a mobile website, a responsively designed site is smart and flexible enough to adapt automatically.  

Possible Disadvantages

  • Loading speed. Responsive websites are built in HTML5 which is linked to CSS styles. This means that every device loads all the data. Even if the biggest part of the content is not visible on a smartphone version, it will still be loaded and hidden by the CSS. Statistics demonstrate that around 40% of mobile users leave a website if it has not loaded within three seconds. Therefore, if your users do not have a steady 4G or LTE connection, your traffic may be impaired. Even a second of delay can cost you a potential customer. That is why loading speed is all-important for mobile websites. In the long run, responsive design may negatively affect your business, driving users away by a slower load speed.
  • Mobile browser compatibility. You may be surprised given the advanced state of modern technologies, but there is still a number of browser on the market that do not support HTML5. These browsers are mostly installed on older smartphones. So if your target audience is not mobile savvy or does not necessarily have the latest devices, then a responsive design may not be the best option for you to consider. However, it is worth mentioning that this issue is likely to disappear before long, as more and more devices are updated to support HTML5.

Responsive Website vs Native App

To decide which option to go for, you should consider such crucial factors as what kind of product or service your business offers and how you are going to acquire and retain your customers.

Do not rush to adapt your website or develop a mobile application. First, think over the goals you wish to achieve with a mobile strategy.

If you want to establish a mobile presence to sell products and services like food delivery, flowers, cinema tickets or bookings, a native app is probably redundant. Responsive website development will be the best choice because it will provide you with an opportunity to boost your search engine visibility, which is crucial for these type of businesses.

For example, a flower shop hardly needs its own mobile application. It will be much more efficient to build a responsively designed website, mark your shops at Google Maps and establish partnerships with existing flower delivery mobile apps that already have their own customer base. In this case, you will spend much more time and resources on creating, supporting and promoting your application than you really need.

On the other hand, if you wish to open new opportunities for your business or offer a new service that will expand your business, reach out to new customers and keep in line with the latest trends, developing a native app is the right solution.

A mobile application can provide for functionality and speed that are not available to a responsive website. They utilise the potential of the device and the mobile platform to the full.

All in all, when you decide between the two options, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and speculate what benefits it may bring to you as an ordinary user. If you have come to a conclusion that as a user, you will uninstall the app at the earliest opportunity, then you should definitely go for a responsive website design.

Still not sure which option suits your business needs? Contact our team and we will help you find the best solution and supply you with further ideas on how to optimise your business’s online presence.

August 31, 2016
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