Touch table appThese are the kind of questions is that comes up a lot in our Business School when we are talking to students and companies. This article explores the idea of Native app vs Responsive websites.

Do you really need your own app? 

Quite often, companies ask for an app, but actually, there may be other solutions which are cheaper and faster to develop and maintain. If the company are trying to really use the capabilities of the smartphone such as the camera, microphone, GPS, accelerometer, push alerts and make something designed for the device, then a native app on Android and iPhone would be the way forward. If the app does not require these things, then a hybrid option or a website that is responsive to work on mobile phones and other devices may be a better option. 

What can they achieve for you, how expensive/difficult are they to develop? Native app vs Responsive website

Footy Fit Native app vs Responsive

Footy Fit is one of our native app projects that uses the smartphones capabilities

Native app – to develop a native app that is in the app store, you would generally have to develop separate apps for each kind of phone (Android and iPhone etc.). This would tend to use the capabilities of the device and the more it does this, it would tend to make it more expensive. It can be expensive and difficult to develop requiring specialist skills. There are also considerations around versions of devices and also maintaining the app as new devices and operating systems are produced. I have developed basic apps using simple tools and paid £1000 for a simple app on one platform – but companies can pay £100,000+. It depends on the size and scale of the company involved or it may be cheaper to work with a freelance app developer.

Hybrid apps – these are built using website technologies such as HTML 5, CSS and Javascript. They can work very much like native apps, but could potentially be easier to develop and maintain, because they would not require separate versions, they are cross-platform. If the app requires use of the device’s capabilities, hybrid apps may be limited or could potentially cause more battery drain than a native app.

Responsive website – setting up something like WordPress with a responsive theme would give you a functional experience for phones and devices. WordPress can be extended to do all kinds of clever things and then languages such as PHP/ HTML 5 and CSS can also create incredible experiences. There are also many services out there that will allow your website to be converted into a basic information app.

Tina Judic is Managing Director of London based Digital Agency, Found, she says “Apps can be great for a company, especially if it’s a company from which regular purchases are made, where customers wish to access their account regularly or if the apps are simply used as a promotional tool. They don’t have to be that complex nor expensive to develop however, like with everything else, they need to serve a purpose. By and large, the first thing I’d recommend all companies prioritise is a responsive website so, whatever device the user is engaging with a company on, the website fits the bill.”

I am hoping to build on these ideas and add some examples, but in the meantime, do drop me a line if you have any comments.


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