Responsive web design allows a website to scale fluidly across any screen width, giving a user a great experience whether they’re on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC or TV.
Pros: Provides a great experience for all screens sizes.
Cons: Can’t make use of native interactions. Performance can be a problem with rich content.
Mobile Web Application
Mobile web applications are websites built specifically for mobile devices. A web application tends to be more appropriate when the requirements are more task-oriented. For this reason they usually have less content than responsive sites.
Pros: Quicker to load than responsive sites. Easy to navigate.
Cons: Not a great idea if you want to cater for loads of different screen sizes.
Native applications are built specifically for the device and are run directly within it, as opposed to in a web browser. Nowadays (2013) the majority of native apps are built for iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). Typically you would choose a native app if you wanted to utilize the devices’ native functionality; for example the camera roll or Geolocation.
Pros: Provides a richer experience with ‘native’ features. Offline use. Speed.
Cons: The user interface is sometimes limited as it needs to reflect the devices’ operating systems style. Battery draining.
At PineGreen we use responsive design methods on all of our websites. It has paid dividends in particular for one of our clients, Jan Fennell the Dog Listener. 2 Months after our new site went live we did some data analysis and found:
- Over 35% of their overall traffic was from a mobile device, up from 5%
- Mobile Sales have increased by 180%
The results show that a well designed responsive website will increase usability – meaning a great experience for anyone.
Responsive design is not the solution for any mobile related project, but it is certainly a very popular option for the majority of use cases nowadays.