A new hot topic in the tech world is responsive design – is it needed for mobile web use or does it make more sense to build an entirely separate mobile application?
I read articles on Mashable and WhoIsHostingThis to look at the debate between development tactics.
Companies are starting to recognize the importance of user-friendly mobile applications or websites. CNN is beginning a $15 million website design process, and focusing a lot of attention on the mobile side after discovering that mobile accounts for 39% of all CNN.com’s traffic (Mashable article). WhoIsHostingIt found that 87% of adults have cell phones, 45% of them have a smart phone, and 90% of those people use their phone to go online. If a website takes longer than 5 seconds to load on a phone, 74% of people close the site. Simply with these statistics, one can see a huge need for a strong mobile base for any company, whether they decide to use responsive design or a mobile application.
Some may think that creating a responsive design is a “shortcut” and will prove to be less expensive than creating a mobile app, however this is not necessarily true. As one Mashable article quotes, “Responsive design is not just about fitting on a mobile screen, it’s also about making sure that functionality works in contexts and scenarios ideal for mobile.” Responsive design doesn’t just mean having a responsive window size, but making sure that users don’t have to zoom in to click a small button on the screen. Users should be able to use the site as easily on their phone as on a computer.
The WhoIsHostingThis article goes in depth about what anatomy goes into a responsive site and elements to ensure a quality consumer experience (read more here).
We recently used responsive design in our most recent website launch, Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker. A separate mobile app was not made, we just made sure that usability was just as high on a desktop as a smart phone.
From my experience and from these articles, I think that making a responsive design is definitely the way to go. Responsive design ensures that the mobile site acts like the desktop website, and an app may require a user to get familiar with an entirely different set up.
What are your thoughts? Do you think usability is easier on one or the other?