October 14, 2019 | Last updated on June 15, 2024

Responsive Web or Native Mobile App Development

Written by Mark Coulstring

When determining if you should build a responsive web app or a native mobile app, it is important to recognize the goals of your company and the problems your users are facing. Understanding these two things will heavily influence your mobile app development process.

This blog should serve as a tool to help you and your team determine which mobile app development option is right for the job. We’ve broken down some of the advantages and differences between responsive web apps and native mobile apps. 

UI/UX in Mobile App Development

User interface design is an important aspect in mobile app development because it is how your consumers will interact with your application and it’s typically a user’s first impression of your business.  A positive user experience is crucial for keeping your audience engaged; therefore it is imperative that your app is seamless and intuitive.  

To ensure you are building a successful digital application, you can conduct user testing throughout the software development life cycle and gather feedback that will enable you to make more informed decisions moving forward.

UX/UI in Mobile App Development

Difference Between Responsive Web Apps and Websites

Websites consist of a group of interlinked web pages that are used to provide static information to a user.  Web apps may also be used for informational purposes but are more interactive than websites. Typically, a user will use a web app to complete a certain task or fulfill an objective.  

Responsive Web App Development 

Responsive web apps can be accessed through any internet browser as long as there is an active internet connection.  Web apps are not specific to a device and do not need to be downloaded like native apps; this makes web apps more easily accessible.  Web apps will also update themselves, making the program more user-friendly. The web app development process is also faster than that of native mobile app development because they do not need to go through an app store approval process.  

Responsive web app development

Advantages and Disadvantages of Responsive Web App Development 


As stated earlier, web apps can be accessed from any browser and they don’t require a download.  Since web apps can be accessed with an active internet connection, web apps are able to run on both mobile and desktop devices.  

Since web apps are not registered in app stores, they can be released at any time without the restrictions of the app marketplace.  However, this means that there are no app store reviews for these apps and discoverability may be much lower. 

Another perk of web apps is that they automatically update, so unlike native mobile apps, your users won’t need to download the latest updates every time there’s a new release.


Web apps need a browser to work, which can make accessibility difficult or impossible.  Web apps also need an active internet connection to work, which limits their usability. Web apps are also slower than native apps and have more limited features.  

Since web apps can be accessed on any device, they are not customized to the look and feel of either operating system (iOS and Android). This is where a native mobile app has the upperhand. If it is imperative for your application to have custom components and elements, then a responsive web app will not suffice.

Since web apps are not uploaded to the app stores, your apps’ discoverability is extremely low. People usually resort to the app store to search for an app that will fulfill a certain need. You could be missing out on a great number of downloads. Lastly, since web apps can be accessed with many web browsers, metrics are difficult to track.

Examples of Responsive Web Apps

  • Google docs
  • Netflix
  • Trello

Native Mobile App Development

Native mobile apps are applications that are designed for specific operating systems.  These apps are not opened through a browser and can only be installed from the corresponding app store.  Native apps are easily accessible because they are displayed in app stores, and product pages can be optimized to increase search visibility and maximize downloads.

native mobile app development

Examples of Native Mobile Apps:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Uber

Advantages and Disadvantages of Native Mobile App Development


Native mobile apps contain platform-specific code that increases the app’s performance and the user interface design can be tailored to the specific operating system.  

Native mobile apps use different programming language for each platform including: Java, C++, and JavaScript for the Android platform and Swift and Objective-C for the iOS platform.  

Native mobile apps run more smoothly and perform better since they are platform-specific, which ultimately results in a more positive user experience.  Additionally, because native mobile apps do not need to be connected to an internet browser, they perform faster than web apps.


Native mobile apps use different programming languages for each platform, which takes more time and resources to code, ultimately leading to a larger investment.  Unlike responsive web apps, native apps do not automatically update, therefore, users must manually update their applications on a regular basis.

Differences in the Mobile App Development Process

Responsive Web App Development

Web apps are created using Java, JavaScript, and HTML and operate in web browsers.  A downside to the web app development process is the lack of standardized tools, such as SDK, to support development efforts.  Instead, templates are often used to streamline and facilitate the process. Web apps are usually more simple than native mobile apps and they do not offer the same number of features.

Native Mobile App Development

Native mobile apps created for different mobile platforms have their own distinct development process.  Native mobile app development for iOS requires the use of Objective-C, Swift, and C#.  For Android, you may use Java, C, and C++.  Native mobile app development can also use a mobile platform’s SDK (Software Development Kit) tools.

Cost comparison

Since native mobile app development requires designing and developing two platform-specific applications, it is generally more expensive than responsive web app development.  You will need double the amount of time for design and you will need two software developers that are well-versed in the appropriate programming languages. 

Since web apps do not have the tailored features that native mobile apps have, they may not provide the user experience that will satisfy the audience’s needs.  

Final thoughts

So how do you make this important decision?  Web and native mobile apps are both designed to fulfill your audience’s needs; therefore, it is best to see which mobile application will accomplish your company’s goals as well as meet consumer expectations.  To learn more about web or native mobile app development, visit our site www.seamgen.com or reach out to us at hello@seamgen.com.

Mark Coulstring
Written by
Mark Coulstring
VP, User Experience, Seamgen
Product Design & Strategy Leader, Worked with CVS, Aetna, Oakley, KIA, Intuit, ViaSat, AARP, Experian, and many more.
Top Application Development Company San Diego and web design company in San Diego

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