Responsive Web Design Vs Web Apps

Web Development

The rapid evolution of mobile devices has totally changed the way people access the internet. Now, people have started using their tablets and smartphones for numerous common things, such as...

  • Checking e-mails.
  • Internet surfing.
  • Looking for information.
  • Entrance to Social Media.
  • Looking at kitten pics.

As a result, the idea to bring the best user experience for mobile users has become primary for most website owners. However, in order to reach your best, you have two different routes. They both are good, but one will suit you more than other.

Responsive website design

Web Development

Responsive design suits people who are already running their own website. It will make sure that website brings the best user experience to any screen size regardless of the device platform. So, the users are free to enter a desktop, iOS, Android, or any other platform and get experience of a website with the perfect format.

Websites that use responsive web design adapt website layout to the viewing environment using the following...

  • Fluids in order to size a website page to feet screen size.
  • Proportion-based grids used to change pixel and point from absolute units to flexible ones.
  • Flexible image sets guarantee that no one will display outside user screen
  • CSS3 media queries enable the page to use various CSS style rules to feet device screen requirements the site displays on.

And one more thing, in 2015, Google announced the so called Mobilegeddon and started boosting the ranks of all websites with mobile-friendly design.

Web apps

Web Development

On the other hand, there are web apps. They are client-server software that runs the user interface directly in a browser. However, they store data on the device’s hardware, thus they may also run offline. Web apps are mostly used for:

  • Webmail services.
  • e-Commerce.
  • Messenger apps.

It is often not easy to show differences between a web app and a mobile app. They look, run, and feel the same to most people. But, there is still one thing that separates them. Web apps have less range of functionality and can not access APIs, like camera or GPS.

Comparison of responsive web vs web app

Cost and Maintainance

Surprisingly, responsive web design's cost and web app development costs are almost the same or close to each other. However, actual contrast starts when you need to maintain the things you run.

While responsive design is just an advantage of your website, a web app has to run a separate mobile-only website with a new domain and host. So, in the case of running a desktop website and a web app, you have to pay double.

As a result, the web app is separated from the main website and you would require more time in order to make any changes or add something new to both of them.

Search engine optimization

As we have mentioned earlier, since Google has started boosting mobile-friendly websites, a responsive website has got one more attractive benefit in comparison to web apps. With a web app, your main website would still be mobile-unfriendly; So in this case, you would lose to competitors with responsive design.

Moreover, SEO for responsive websites is much easier. And with no requirements of redirection from web to web app, your page load time would be less.

User Experience

In this case, a responsive web is nothing more than just trying to squeeze all design and UI elements in order to fit smaller screens. Despite time and resource requirements, this is where problems begin.

  • You may overload small screens with buttons and UI elements if your website is rich on those things.
  • Or you may be pushed to rework design and functionality of your website in order to make small screens not so ugly. But it may hurt user experience for all your other users.

What about web apps? You are totally free to do whatever is needed to bring the best user experience to your mobile visitors. Moreover, while your desktop app is separated from the web app, its design, UI elements, and functionality would not suffer any changes.

But without your web app, mobile users still would suffer low user experience.


According to the Quantcast survey of November 2015, 65.5% of top 10,000 websites have responsive design. It seems that they are doing things right if they have climbed on the top.

But, on the other hand, such internet giants like Youtube, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zoho, Google services, and Vimeo etc. run web apps for mobile users despite their websites being already responsive.

Bottom Line

If you run a new website, go responsively. It has all-round benefits and lower cost to maintain both the time and resource requirements. Moreover, it is easier to track changes while you run only one project.

In the other case, a web app is preferable, especially if you can afford responsive web and web app at the same time. It would provide the best user experience but will heavily hurt your budget.