Since 2011 there has been a buzz in the industry about some cool new tools that have unleashed a whole new perspective on web development. Welcome to the world of responsive websites.
Lets begin our story on January 9, 2007 at the MacWorld convention. This was the day that would evolve and create a need for a shrunken more portable internet. This revolutionary new technology, the iPhone, more importantly the smartphone. Almost over night every company that could afford it wanted a piece of the action. Enter, the mobile application. Shortly after we were introduced to mobile web applications, and not much further down the road, responsive websites.
All history aside, I am here today to tell you which options you should explore for your company and web/mobile presence. We will begin with the most current technology and work our way backwards.
Responsive websites are an idea that attempt to emulate a user friendly experience for your website while maintaining the integrity of the website. In fact, this very website is responsive – Go ahead, resize your browser window and take a peek. With that said, there are many reasons to choose responsive over web applications and native.
Responsive is cheaper overall, and I am not talking quality. A responsive website takes a significant number of hours less comparatively to native web applications and native applications. The reason for this is quite simple really, it only has to be designed and developed once. Since the code of a responsive site is predetermined, the designer knows exactly how to effectively design the website to make it look and function beautifully. For the average website, this is a more than sufficient approach.
However, with the good, come the bad. The cons of responsive design have to do mainly with content deliverability. In 99% of cases where responsive isn’t the best option, its usually because of page load time. With the internet getting faster and faster each day, we have to account for mobile network speeds as well as data limits. Forcing someone that is visiting your website to download 20 1 megabyte files is ill-advised. This leads us nicely in to our next topic
Mobile web applications are a viable solution for companies with a lot of content that is all over the place. Lets use a car dealer for instance. Having a responsive website is possible, but a native website would have much better performance. This is due to the high volume of images and content on the website at any given time.
The downside of mobile web applications is the time it takes to create. In most cases it takes just as long to produce the mobile web app as it does to create the website. The concepts have to be designed, developed, and delivered twice. This can result in a longer timeline to launch and a more costly endeavor. However, with that said, there are many great uses for mobile web apps. Up to this point, every website with a mobile presence has either a responsive website or a mobile web app. Native apps are an entirely different ball game.
Native apps are great for a number of things games, regularly updating content and day to day applications. In 90% of cases a native application is not necessary for the average business. This is the most expensive of 3 options as well. Since native apps are completely custom and must be constructed from the ground up each time, you can expect to pay a decent amount.
Now that I have informed you this state of mobile summary, you have the tools to make a more informed decision. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the article.