Blog Email Sign Up

Y You Need A Responsive Website - Not An App

Posted by Jeff Davis on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 09:56 AM
There is a lot of controversy about whether or not you should build a mobile app or a responsive website.  
FYI, prior to joining Thrive last year, I worked for Post News-Week in their TV division. I was based in San Antonio at the time and in 2012 we started building mobile apps for our news department.  
We soon learned that building an app was the easiest part of the program. The difficult part? Convincing viewers to download a mobile app and use it. We held the largest audience share in the market - 40% of the viewers in SAT watched KSAT news.  Imagine having your own TV station to tell viewers to download your app and still not being able to penetrate the market.  
Another obstacle is that you cannot simply have "an" app.  You have to develop two apps - one for Apple devices and another for Android devices - and be prepared to support them.
Once you get approval from Apple to launch your app in the Apple store, you are now competing with over one million other apps that are available for download from their App store.  And the Android Store also has over one million choices.  It is easy to get lost in there.  The cost of marketing your app to the public will greatly exceed the cost of developing the app.  At KSAT we gave up hundred's of thousands of dollars in inventory to promote the use of our apps.  
From an operational point of view, you now have two different websites ( and KSATNews App) to support.  So you either hire another person to manage the app, or as is usually the case, you tell the current web editor to do both jobs.  Soon we were up to four different apps - news, weather, High School Football and Hurricanes - and we realized there had to be a better way. 
So we launched Project Trailblazer and built a simple (OK not really simple) responsive design website that adapted the look of to the actual device the viewer was using to visit our site.  The News Department was thrilled - only one site to post stories to and our web traffic increased because it was easier for viewers to visit our site without having to worry about having the right app to access the information they sought.
Responsive web design is powerful because, rather than building a website or app for every device consumers use, you build a single website that transforms the site based on the device the consumer is using.  All the content remains, it is merely re-organized for optimium display of the visitors computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.  
We at Thrive believe that consumers will use mobile apps under the right circumstances.  But there has to be a strong, compelling reason to do so.  Banking is a great example.  Facebook. Fitbit. Google Search.  All have a piece of real estate on my smartphone because they offer a service I want and use frequently.
"The very best marketing comes from observing consumer behavior and inserting your message into their behavior."  Consumers love the ease of use of the responsive website.
So the advantages of a responsive website are clear:
  • You only have to support one website
  • Consumers only have to find your website and the site will transform your content to display on the visitors device.    
  • The cost of marketing an app will far exceed the cost of developing the app
  • Getting consumers to download the app is difficult.  2/3rds of all apps fail to reach 1,000 downloads during the first year
Have questions about your mobile strategy?  Give us a call at 419-776-7000 or drop me an email at

Topics: YMCA website, mobile, Mobile Marketing, website


Follow Thrive

Posts by Topic

See All