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What’s the Difference? Website vs. Mobile App vs. Mobile Responsive

Website vs. Mobile App vs. Mobile Responsive

As a software solutions firm, we are often asked what the difference is between a website vs. mobile app vs. mobile responsive. We understand that it can be confusing to understand their differences. While all are built with code, all three vary as to how you use them. A website is something you visit on a desktop or laptop, a mobile application is an application you download on your phone or tablet that is not opened in your Internet browser such as Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, and a mobile responsive website looks just like a traditional website that is viewed on a desktop, however it can also be viewed the same way on a tablet or mobile device. Let’s overview the differences again so you can better understand what a website, mobile application, and a mobile responsive website are.

website vs. mobile app vs. mobile responsive

What is a website?

A website is a page you visit on a desktop or laptop computer. These sites can have many features like hovering your mouse over a portion of the site to reveal many pop-up features.

Websites can also be visited on a mobile device or tablet but they may not load correctly because they are not responding to the size of your device. This also means the fancy features seen on the website via a desktop will not be visible or useable on your mobile device.

Often times, users can get frustrated trying to navigate a website on a mobile device when it was built for desktop only. It is best to build a mobile responsive website which you’ll learn about in a minute.

website vs. mobile app vs. mobile responsive

What is a Mobile Application?

A mobile application is built with the intent of only being used on a mobile device. Have you ever noticed that you have an application on your phone but can’t download it on your tablet? Maybe they’re both Apple products or one is Android?

That’s because a mobile application has to be built for different platforms. If the application is strictly built for iOS, you may not find it available to download on your Android device.

website vs. mobile app vs. mobile responsive

What is Mobile Responsive?

A mobile responsive website is just like a desktop website. You can visit it from your laptop or desktop and are able to utilize all the optional features. However, with a mobile responsive website, you are also able to visit the site on your mobile device.

The catch with a mobile responsive site is that it may not always look identical as it did on your desktop. That’s because some features can not be translated.


If you are working with a software development team to create a website, it is best to tell them ahead of time if you plan to also create a mobile application down the road. Even if you are unsure of the timeline, the developers can build your website in a specific way to assist with the future development of your mobile application.

Only so much content can be reused when taking a desktop site and creating a mobile application which is why it is important to have the site built to be able to adapt.

Ideally, any new product you build should be a mobile responsive site rather than a regular website. Today, most users will be on your website on their mobile devices and tablets, rather than a desktop computer.

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