Does your business need a mobile app? Or a mobile responsive website? Let’s find out!

A common comment from clients is “We need a mobile app!” And, some of them are right – they could benefit from an app. However, often times, what clients actually need is a mobile responsive website. Drawing a distinction between the two may seem like petty semantics, but they’re actually quite different. Which is better? Well, that depends. Every business’ goals and needs are different. So, a better question to ask yourself is, “Which is more appropriate for my business?”  

Here are some of the factors you should consider:

Your audience

A responsive website is available to all devices that have access to the internet. Mobile apps are only available on smartphones and tablets but can access certain functions without an internet connection. 

Compatibility can also limit your reach. Mobile apps have to be developed for multiple platforms and devices to reach a wide audience. Responsive websites are generally available on all major browsers and devices.

Ease of Use

A mobile app requires download and installation before it can be used. A responsive website does not. High frequency users may prefer the one tap of opening a mobile app, even if it does require an initial download. However, occasional users may think it’s a hassle. 

A responsive website is also easier to update and maintain. When new versions and bug fixes are released, mobile app users will not get the benefits until they update to the new version of the app. Website users will automatically receive updates on their next visit to the site. No action required. 


Backed by the power of the internet, responsive websites can offer a myriad of features and functions for your target user. However, if your service or product offering intends to utilize native smartphone options – such as the camera, microphone or push notifications – mobile apps tend to work better.

Cost / Budget

Generally speaking, developing a mobile app is more expensive than building a responsive website or web app. There are fewer experienced mobile developers in the marketplace than web developers, which causes their average development rates to be higher. On top of that, mobile app development potentially involves developing for multiple platforms. If you want to reach a wide audience, you’ll want to make sure your app is available in both iOS and Android versions (maybe Windows too). Depending on the desired functionality of the app, that could mean developing multiple apps which will increase your development costs significantly.

The Bottom Line

So, which should you choose? Maybe both? (We joke!) The fact is that both options have pros and cons and can play a valuable role for your business. The key is to let your vision and strategy drive your innovation choices. The tools you choose for your business should be guided by your broader business strategy. If your software vendor isn’t asking about your business goals for the project, that is a red flag! Be sure your development team understands your objectives (and budget) before the first line of code is written.