According to a ComScore report, 2014 represented a major milestone for mobile devices, in that mobile usage exceeded the number of desktop internet users for the first time. Furthermore, other major research companies, including various reports by Gartner in 2016, reiterated the growing dominance of mobile devices and the fact that this trend is growing at a greater pace than ever before.
In addition to the actual number of users favouring mobility, research continues to demonstrate that when it comes to the average number of hours spent with desktop and mobile phones, the latter has acquired a clear ascendency and, according to the trend patterns, is set to dominate even more in future.
In light of the overwhelming growth and importance of mobile, companies are now taking meaningful steps to optimise this valuable resources across all stakeholder groups, both internal and external.
In this regard, we at Mumba are engaged in a protracted debate between those advocating the use of Responsive Websites, as opposed to Native Apps when it comes to delivering IT systems, processes and communications to employees.
Whilst we believe that the benefits of Native Apps for business far outweigh Responsive Websites, there have recently been a spate of excellent posts in this regard, which have been incorporate below to provide improved perspective.
Responsive Websites are designed for a multitude of devices with different operating systems and screen sizes. They automatically adjust the layout of content to the available screen size. For example, the same content may appear in a three-column format on a desktop, two on a tablet, and one on a smartphone. Depending on the size of a smartphone’s screen there may yet be further adjustments between different models.
According to Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group responsive design websites have the ability to adopt to many devices and, as such, represent a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
On the downside Budiu states that responsive websites are slow and also not ideal for complex business tasks and content. They also do not integrate well with third party IT systems as their APIs are usually limited in scope.
In addition to these aspects, a post by Think Apps emphasises that in order to function, responsive websites require an internet connection, as they obtain information directly from a browser.
This in turn means that your content won’t be available at all times and often leads to frustration when employees attempt to access systems from locations with limited internet access. The post also mentions that responsive websites usually suffer from poor performance on mobile devices, because certain components, such as images and animations, are both ‘slow and heavy’.
Furthermore, users have to wait for the browser to download the entire page and all its elements in order to see it. This has an undesirable impact on personal data consumption, phone battery and employee productivity.
Overall, the negative effects of Responsive Websites lead to low employee engagement and adoption, which could compromise the viability of the project in the first place.
The biggest advantage of Native Apps is that they provide far greater user experiences when compared to Responsive Websites. They are very fast and look impressive from a usability perspective while using much less data and provide greater reliability to the user. Most importantly, Native Apps provide better device integration and security by offering push notifications, camera, gallery, video, vibrate functions and more.
In the post by Pawel Hałabuda entitled: Native App vs Responsive Website: How To Choose Between Them? The writer provides a list of many advantages pertaining to native apps, including: no internet connection required, superior performance, ability to include more advanced features, enhanced security, and the ability to strengthen the brand, through association. All of these are plus elements when it comes to staff engagement and interaction.
The negative aspects of Native Apps are the expense and time required to develop the apps and also the ongoing maintenance required to keep the app updated with the different versions of phones (see this article). Whilst Native Apps are more expensive to develop, Mumba's mobility solution offers Native Apps at a far lower cost when compared to alternative solutions. Furthermore, with the advantages of outsourced maintenance, hosting and upgrades, Mumba has created a convenient model for delivering apps in a short period of time and with minimal effort.
Responsive Websites are easy to deploy and relatively cheap to maintain however they do not provide an efficient and pleasant user experience when compared to Native Mobile apps. The negative user experiences encountered by Responsive Websites leads to low employee adoption which could compromise the project effectiveness and feasibility.
Mumba’s approach to creating an app portal with a single interface is the most powerful, flexible and cost effective solution for any company seeking a Native App mobile solution.
We look forward to discussing how we can best assist your company optimise its processes and deliver true mobility and employee self-service in the very near future.