Our customers often ask us when is it best to replace their responsive website with a native app. We tend to answer this question with a more end-user experience question.
How frequently will the end user access the service or information you are presenting?
A native app will give a superior user interface speed and smartphone integration experience over a responsive website. Always. So if your user is going to be accessing your service or information frequently, they are going to become annoyed if the information loads at web-speed, and doesn’t easily integrate into services supported on the native device, such as location services, cameras and database services that allow offline use of the information.
So if the information or service you are offering has a high traffic rate, and a high utility to users on the go, a native app will make the most sense.
On the flip-side, responsive websites are good for displaying information or services on smartphones that copies what is already on the website. They are also useful for driving content to a type of native app called a wrapper app, that simply presents responsive webpages inside a native app container. What wrapper apps don’t do is tailor the information for more efficient access. It simply mobilizes what is already there.
Mobile efficiency is becoming the benchmark for successful native apps, and has shown how it can lead to increased app utilization rates. Take for example the first mobile applications launched by the banks. They offered the ability to view your balance, and to perform the same transactions you could on the website, but if you wanted to deposit a cheque, you still had to find your local branch and go deposit a cheque. Adding in the ability to deposit a cheque by using the camera increased the utility of the app, and caused a surge in mobile banking. Now banks are starting to consider if they need ATM machines and/or branches at all.
So if you have a service or set of information that will improve the way your end-users interact with your firm online in a mobile context, don’t just make your website mobile, but look at how a native app may improve on the efficiency of how your business operates.