What are the pros and cons of building an app versus a responsive website as an MVP?

I am building an MVP to prove a new business concept around using technology to help women research beauty products. I am getting conflicting advice around whether the MVP should be built as an App or as a Mobile Responsive website. Longer term, I see the App being the predominant platform for our service and my target market are the millenial segment who are high smart phone users. I would love some advice on pros and cons of the App versus Website route for testing an MVP?


This is a great question and an important one as well. I would start by identifying:

Who is your target market?
How will they use your product? On the go? On their laptop or on their mobile device?
What kind of technology does your product need? Can it be built as a simple website or does in need to be an app (i.e. you need push notifications, integration with other mobile apps, etc).

On the other hand, how much time and budget do you have? Typically a responsive website is faster and cheaper to build than an app and will get you out the door faster.

Answered 5 years ago

I built a social discovery platform to help pregnant and new moms discover, find and buy baby products. Since this is a MVP I suggest the quick and dirty method.

Quick and Dirty:

Buy a Wordpress template (they come responsive), style it to what you are trying to do. Become an Amazon affiliate to pull the products. You or someone else write about the beauty products. That is your MVP.

Long term items to think about:

1. Regardless if you have an App or a responsive website you will need a Content Management System.

2. Depending on the demographics you are targeting it will dictate what to build. More likely build an App for the long haul.

3. How will they accessing the app or site? Will you be sending weekly newsletters? or weekly push notifications?

4. What do you want the women to do on the platform? Discover then buy?

5. Where will you be finding the products from? You could use Amazon API or Viglink API to bring in the products and make commission.

If you want to discuss further shoot me a message.

Answered 5 years ago

I am currently advising a cosmetics and high fashion wear entrepreneur. My understanding of their data and demo shows that the buying decision - which is why you're in this game, right? - depends on two things: explanation and comparison.
In other terms, 'what is this?' and 'is it the best of it's kind?'.

With those being the asks, a responsive website would be best for 'closing sales' till you have a recognized brand.

Let's get on a call to figure out how to divide the utility of site and app to give customers the best overall experience, and for you, the most sales!


Answered 5 years ago

I can provide you with my thoughts, they are a little one sided but I feel, for good reason. While everybody believes they have the next best idea not everything even great ideas take off. Thus the whole concept of the MVP. Get something out there get people using it, start generating revenues and then invest further. It is my opinion that because the responsively designed website can reach a higher audience, ie everyone with the internet, mobile or otherwise this is the best direction for 90% of MVP's.

The thought here for me, is simple. Build it once. With an App, you will have to build for the given platform(s) iOS as well as Android, unless you wanted to test it on a smaller segment then focus on just one, probably iOS. But then don't forget that this will only work on mobile devices, and because it is an app built for a platform that is constantly changing you too will need to upgrade the app, in some cases just to keep it alive, rather than focusing on enhancements that your user/customer is looking for.

Those are just a few of my thoughts, the other is that building an app will need the involvement of a different developer base and to do it correctly will probably increase your overall costs to get your MVP to market.

In the end, I would say build something that is accessible to a wider reach then once its proven its viability start rolling out the iPhone and android apps. (I am pretty sure Clarity itself is a case in point of website before app development).

Hope this helps.

Answered 5 years ago

As a product designer, I get asked this question by clients often. Start by asking: Who is your user? What will this product help them accomplish? What does your brand offer in this space better that no one else can (your gift)? Are there inherent qualities in either platform that you must have in order for this to work? (For example, an accelerometer.)

It's less about pros and cons and more about proving your MVP through a technology that's most useful for your user. You may start focused on one and eventually build out the other, if you can prove the concept. Take the Spring shopping app as a great example.

The awesome team over at Crew built a tool to help. One of the main concerns is budget, but if you have a technical cofounder, you are one step ahead.

Let me know if I can help more over a call and good luck!

Answered 5 years ago

My rule of thumb is this: Unless you must harness specific features available only by building an app, build a mobile site. Mobile sites can get much more traffic and usage because the user does not have to install yet another app that takes time and space on the device.

Answered 5 years ago

Unlock Startups Unlimited

Access 20,000+ Startup Experts, 650+ masterclass videos, 1,000+ in-depth guides, and all the software tools you need to launch and grow quickly.

Already a member? Sign in

Copyright © 2020 LLC. All rights reserved.