The Ultimate Battle: Responsive Website vs. Mobile App

About 7 months ago Google released its new algorithm to punish websites that aren’t mobile friendly. The search giant basically foresaw this change - a bigger portion of Google's overall search happened on mobile last month.

It is taking over.

Ok, everybody gets the point. A mobile responsive website is a must-have for a business in 2015.

But you could ask:

How do I know if my business needs a mobile app?

Well, we put them against each other in our imaginary ring to get the answers.

Round 1 - Cost

The cost might vary widely depending on the project's specific needs. Truth to be told, if just counting industry average;

It could easily be a knockout.

The average cost of a website starts from $6k while mobile apps often go above $50k. [1] [2]

However, with services like AppMixture you can automate the app creation process, while still keeping high quality and without breaking the bank.

Round 2 - User Experience

If you own a business your top goal should probably be to provide the best possible experience for your users.

Mark Zuckerberg was once asked - what was the biggest mistake he made while building Facebook.

"Building our mobile experience based on HTML5 instead of native apps. It would have killed us if didn't realize in time." - he said.

Even though Facebook still works nicely in your mobile browser, no one uses it. Why? Because the app is just so much better. It feels natural, easy to use and has much more functionality.

Would you be able to this in a mobile website?

Round 3 - Speed

Although speed is strongly connected to user experience I'll mention it in a separate round.

Let me explain why.

The world tends to move faster as the ability to access information also increases. Even today, most of us can't tolerate a 5 sec waiting time on any site we visit. Therefore, to retain your users, speed is crucial.

It's obvious that a mobile website can never beat a well written native app in this round.

Round 4 - Platform where people are

Unless you're about to establish the next Apple it's not likely that users will go where you are.

You have to go where your users are.

And they are on mobile.

The average time spent on mobile has been used mostly of apps. People prefer apps over mobile web. They feel it's more convenient, user friendly and secure. It's the simple as that.

Usage of mobile app vs. mobile web

Monthly usage - majority time spent on the phone is spent in apps & the tendency is even getting stronger

Round 5 - Customer Base

It's very important to clarify whether or not your business needs an app. For the most part it'll depend on your customer base.

Not every business requires a mobile app.

Just like the bakery on the corner might not even need a website. It's been there for tens of years, everybody knows that the chocolate cake is amazing. And the grandma behind the desk does not really want to spread it into a worldwide chain.

However, if your users mostly come from the web (eg. you have an e-commerce store) then you might consider building an app.

Especially if most of your customers are returning.

And if you're an online business and don't have enough returning customers, then make sure that's gonna be goal #1 on your list.

So what do you do to retain your customers right now?

Email marketing? Social media? Retargeting marketing campaigns?

Well... you could also feel that those might not the most effective ways nowadays.

But what if you have a mobile app? Guess what, it's always on their home screen. You can reach them by push notifications or in-app messages - offering special promotions, loyalty programs, etc.

You know what's the average click-through-rate for push notification? 40%. Yes you read it right, forty percent. That is not the open rate but the click-through. Compared with email marketing - which is widely known as the most effective way to retain customers - it's roughly 5 times better. And 8% CTR in an email campaign is considered pretty high.[3]

Just one thing; make sure you have a product that’s worth coming back for. Otherwise you'll look like an annoying marketing machine and people will end up deleting your app.

Round 6 - Trust

In 2015 users have more choice they ever before. Buying decisions are often made by brand recognition. If they know your company, if they heard about your brand or even interacted with it, they'll be more likely to buy.

You should always aim to build a brand - not just a company.

Ok, but how does it relate to websites and apps? First off, does just seeing that a company has an app create trust?

Yes it does. Let me explain why.

If you look around and see that a company has an app, you get the feeling that this is some serious business. And it's always better to deal with serious businesses.

Pro tip: A patched up app won't give you this.

Pro tip 2: There's one key element to a successful overall brand and that's consistency.

Round 7 - How'd they find you?

Most people still find products while browsing online. They run searches or go after friends’ recommendations.

But, here's the thing.

More and more people browse or search for specific solutions in the App Store.

You might not want to miss this opportunity to get found. Not to mention that the competition in the App Store is much less than it is on Google search. And less people know how to get app store optimization right then for SEO. In fact we have a free email course to get the basics of app store optimization.

Round 8 - Offline Usage

Don't forget that not everyone with smartphones have data plans. Or they haven't got enough. Having an app might give you the ability to reach users even when they're offline.

Round 9 - Time Investment

The thing is, apps are not easy to build. On average it can take around 4-5 months to launch an app. Just the time it takes for Apple to review your app is about 2 weeks. Websites can be built faster using templates, but even more complex e-commerce stores can be made within a month with services like Shopify.


Based on the overall performance in the 9 rounds, the winner is the mobile app by 7-4 (some rounds were equal, that counts 1-1). Although for many businesses the first round could end up with a KO, if you can afford the hefty price tag, might be worth to create an app. Better yet, skip the knockout, keep your money and maximize the quality with AppMixture. Win all the rounds.

Mate Rauscher

Read more posts by this author.

comments powered by Disqus