Responsive Websites, Mobile Websites, Mobile Apps – What’s the difference?
‘Responsive Websites, Mobile Websites, Mobile Apps – What’s the difference?’
This is a question our clients ask all the time and moreover what would be the right solution for their business.
First, let’s understand why the question is even asked in the first place.
Firstly, every business will want their website found in search engines such as Google for their products, services and at least their company brand name. Did you know that a major part of Google’s philosophy is:
“Focus on the user and all else will follow – since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.”
If you show a concern for your current and potential customers then you should make every possible effort to ensure your website is viewable on all the different devices we find in people’s hands and on the desks of businesses every day. If you do, you may just be rewarded with more customers and/or happier and engaged customers.
The Growth of Mobile
Many research organisations are agreed that global internet users will likely double over the next few years with the majority being mobile. Also, more smart phones are being sold than personal computers, added to the fact that over 60% of the UK population own a smartphone, (Mashable) and perhaps not unsurprising 4 out of 5 smartphone users check their device within 15 minutes of waking up!
So you see it’s absolutely critical that mobile should now form a major part in your website and marketing strategy.
Let’s now come back to the question we posed; what is the differences between responsive websites, mobile websites and Mobile apps? Well let’s take each one individually:
A responsive website is one that adapts itself to the size of device that’s viewing it. Which means in many cases the website will look different when viewing on a PC/laptop compared to viewing on a smart phone and tablet but will always remain user friendly. In all likelihood the view from a smartphone browser will show the website to be much simpler, easily readable than the PC version with the navigation modified to suit the touch screen environment. Any telephone numbers will be programmed so they can be clicked to invoke a phone call – ‘click to call’.
This is a website that has been designed and developed with the mobile device i.e. smartphone/feature phone in mind. It will be a separate entity from your main website that is designed to be viewed on PCs and will only be configured to be presented when a visitor comes via a mobile handset.
Mobile Application (App)
A mobile app is a computer program that has been designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Such apps are available to download from application distribution platforms such as the Apple App Store or Google Play. These apps may be available free or to purchase, in most cases for a nominal fee.
What’s right for you?
While you may now recognise that Responsive Websites, Mobile Websites and Mobile Apps are three different entities, the question probably still remains, which is right for your business? This would likely lead to a very detailed and complex discussion however, we’d recommend the following as a rule of thumb:
– All new websites should be designed to be responsive. It may be a more expensive initial outlay but it will pay dividends over time. More so, Google recommend it!
– If your current website is not responsive and you’re receiving over 20% of views from a smartphone (check Google Analytics) then I’d recommend it’s critical you should change to a responsive website.
– If you have a considerable percentage of smartphone visitors to say one or two particular pages of your responsive website, or perhaps you have an e-commerce website whereby a particular product is sold via smartphones, e.g. people on the move, then perhaps consider a mobile website just for those pages. The objective would be to give your customers a more enhanced experience and increase conversion.
If your responsive website has say one of the following requirements then you could consider the development of a mobile app:
– A requirement for data to be captured remotely and then uploaded to the website.
– If your customers generally have to carry out an element of calculation before accessing or ordering from your website. The development of a mobile app might increase customer satisfaction and ultimately conversion.
– If there is a fun element to your products/services that would enable greater promotion of your brand and increase customer engagement then you might consider the development of a game/quiz mobile app.
– If your brand would benefit from interaction with the functional aspects of a mobile device, i.e. the camera, the phone or other mobile applications e.g. social media.
While we believe we’ve clearly highlighted the differences between the three entities we recognise that it’s a rapidly changing area of marketing and technology and in many cases we’re all limited by our own imagination.
We’d be very happy to see your comments and any experiences you can bring to the discussion in the section below.