I've both designed and developed multiple websites where I worked on making the site responsive for mobile/tablet. It's easy work, but it's extremely tedious and lengthy.

Knowing that I am a single developer, is it better to:

  1. Make the website completely responsive, but have no mobile app at launch.


  1. Don't make the website responsive, but have a mobile app for both iOS and Android.

In all honesty, I think I could do both in the same time frame, but it's just a matter of which would garner more users.


5 Answers 5


Honestly, it depends on the user.

There are pros and cons to each strategy. With an app, your users are going to have to take the extra step to go to their respective app store, download the app, then launch it and do the set up again (if there is any). However, native apps tend to run more smoothly than a responsive site as a responsive site will most likely rely on the user having access to a data connection.

Again, it all depends on the user and your particular situation, but overall, I'd tend to stick more with making a site responsive. Apps are nice, but they require a lot more work during development and with the large number of responsive frameworks out there like Bootstrap and Foundation, it's very easy to use a responsive framework as a base or at least find their media queries.

  • Well, if your name is Facebook, you have a non-responsive website, an app to use half your site (the social media portion), then a separate app to use the other half (the messenger portion). I think mobile-first, responsive design is overrated at best, and at the least, completely unnecessary and hideous. As a developer AND a user, I'm honestly getting tired of the growing number of huge, clunky, Down's Syndrome websites with these massive buttons and oversized text because they were designed to work on mobile, and the desktop experience is treated as happenstance.
    – Christine
    Sep 8, 2016 at 22:01

It's impossible for us to answer this for you. You have to decide. The big question here, it seems, is what is gained by creating native apps for the platforms?

This is a common strategy (build a web site, then apps) but I'm not convinced it's a strategy based on data in most cases.

You need to ask questions like the following:

  • What will compel a user to visit the app store, download and install an app vs. just typing in the URL?
  • Is your organization set up to handle constant maintenance between the differing platforms to retain some expectation of parity?
  • Is there a compelling feature with the app that your users will appreciate that simply can't be offered via the web?
  • And, of course, the very fundamental questions such as who are you targeting, what are their preferences, etc.

Other than being a single developer, what is your situation?

Who is your audience? What technology do you expect they will primarily use? Does your product have features that are more user friendly with an app?

That being said, I would likely lean towards a responsive website, but don't know for without truly knowing your situation (and surely wouldn't even know for "sure").

Have you messed around with Adobe Muse? Very easy to make a nice responsive website with a short learning curve. Downfalls is you are somewhat limited to features and have bloated code.

  • Alas, bloated code can be a huge detriment if you're targeting mobile.
    – DA01
    Jan 4, 2015 at 17:51

If you're weighing

  1. Make a single responsive website
  2. Make a single non-responsive website and an Android app and a iPhone app

It seems to me like you're comparing apples to orangutans. Websites and apps are very different animals. Websites are accessible by clicking on a link (low commitment) and apps need to be installed (high commitment). Websites are easy to update and modify, apps aren't so easy. And you need to have a webpage for each of your apps, so that just adds to the work load. I don't think it's realistic to think you can make one website in the same timeframe as it would for you to make 4 websites and 2 apps.

It's much less work to make a single responsive website. What garners the most users depends on your marketing skills - are you better at getting people to install apps or click on links?


If you're planning on creating mobile apps down the line anyway, I think it makes sense to start with the responsive site.

The native apps are nice, but SOME people would still go to the website from a mobile device.Option 2 just makes things harder for them. (Even if they do find and install the native apps eventually)

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