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Native, hybrid or responsive: what format to choose to make your mobile users live a successful experience. We take stock!

At some point, when designing your mobile application, you will have to decide on how you will develop the application. Your choices include native applications, hybrid applications and responsive websites and the decision you make will affect the end product. Learning to make the right decision requires understanding how each type of development works and how it affects the end product.

There are three main options for creating a mobile app. You can create a native application, a hybrid application, or create a responsive mobile website that offers similar functionality to an application. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand them in detail before embarking on a particular development path.

What is a Native App?

A native application is designed to run on a particular mobile operating system. It will not work on other mobile operating systems. So, for example, if you were developing a native application for iOS, you would do it on Swift.

The biggest benefits for native applications are that they can typically easily access all the features of the selected device and are more likely, if properly developed, to run without error on the device.

However, this involves a compromise. A native application cannot be run on a device that does not use the same operating system. This means that if you want your application to run on Windows, iOS 7 and Android, you will need to develop the application three times, once for each operating system. This can make the development process slower and more costly.

Many companies will develop their application for a single operating system when choosing the native route. If the application succeeds in this environment, it will go back and recreate it for other operating systems. It should be noted that at present, iOS 7 applications are more cost effective than applications running in other environments.

What is a Hybrid App?

A hybrid application is designed to work on multiple platforms. It is written using only one standard code language (such as C # or a combination of HTML5 and Javascript) and compiled to run on each platform. Device-specific interactions will usually be handled through the use of plugins for that operating system.

The biggest advantage of hybrid applications is that they allow the support of several operating systems at a more economical price than the development of several native applications. Users, as long as the development runs smoothly, will not normally be able to distinguish whether an application is native or hybrid. In fact, users, in general, do not care about how your application is developed, they just care about whether it works on their device and does what they expect to do.

There are disadvantages for the development of hybrid applications. It can present serious challenges if the application requires a complex interaction of the device. Effectively, there is a limit to what plugins can achieve on this aspect. The support costs of a hybrid application may be higher than the support costs of a native application.

What is a Responsive Website?

A responsive web site can provide functionality similar to an application. In fact, with a little creativity, you can minimize the differences and make sure that the home page is displayed directly in full-screen mode.
Responsive websites will be developed using HTML 5 and Javascript. As a general rule, developers will adopt a “mobile first” approach to developing the mobile version offering a simpler and less expensive experience compared to the desktop version of the same site.

The main disadvantages of using responsive websites are that the application cannot be distributed via an application store; this can be bad for your business if you are looking to monetize your app downloads. Second, there is the problem that the user will need constant connectivity to use the site. This may not be a problem in highly developed markets where mobile broadband is roughly ubiquitous, but this can be problematic in developing markets.

It is interesting to note that, at the moment, applications seem to be the driving force behind the mobile site. The average user already uses up to 30 applications per month, and more than 250,000 applications are broadcast per year … There may be an overload point from the user’s point of view. At this point, it is possible to imagine that if there are well-designed mobile websites, users will move away from apps and return to browsing and individual sites to experience their online experience. Subsequently, applications could become “launchers” of mobile websites.

In Conclusion

The mobile site offers an important opportunity for entrepreneurs. Mobile applications are relatively inexpensive and easy to produce. Choosing the right approach to development is essential to the good experience. By understanding the differences between hybrid, native and responsive, you can make the right decision for your mobile marketing project.

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