The demarcations between app and Web are shifting. Notice we didn’t specify mobile Web: that’s another sign that the paradigm of screen and display types isn’t as clearly structured as it might have seemed, say, last year. What this means is that Web and mobile Web shouldn’t be such different animals. In fact, they shouldn’t be different at all anymore.
A well designed website should be responsive — i.e., it should be visible on, and optimized for, both desktop and mobile screens of all sizes and resolutions. (We practice what we preach here at Fueled: try looking at our site on your laptop and your iPhone or Android.) Responsive design is an especially effective way to deal with the ever-increasing number of devices coming onto the market; it would be unrealistic — impossible, really — to create a version of your site for every phone and browser that might access it.
In the back-end, this is done using HTML/CSS and media queries, which can determine the conditions of certain media features, like width or height. This solution to the Web vs. mobile issue has been around for years, but it’s now essentially a requirement. Take a look at the newest themes and templates available for, for example, WordPress (a platform even the not-quite-programming-literate can use!), and you’ll see that most list “responsive” as a primary feature.
There’s no longer a real divide, then, between “Web” and “mobile Web,” as Say Daily notes in their recent piece on the “golden moment” of digital media (that moment is now, by the way, if you didn’t guess). “There’s only one Web,” as they say, and we should take advantage of its increased availability and flexibility.
Some of those new capabilities that make responsive websites so powerful are breaking down further barriers — namely, those between mobile app and mobile Web. This is due in large part to the rise of HTML5, which can handle interactive, rich-media features. Now, mobile websites, too, can have the kind of interactivity that previously was only available within apps.
ReadWriteWeb proposes that this might be the “death” of the app, or at least the return of the browser: some mobile apps, especially media apps like magazines, are choosing to discontinue their apps and instead build a responsive, HTML5 website that can be viewed with equal design quality — and high interactivity — on all devices.
Of course, for the time being, Fueled certainly feels that apps will always offer benefits that websites can’t — but we’re enthusiastic about the potential of HTML5 and of fully responsive sites. What do you think? Do you prefer interactive features on the Web, or in native apps? Let us know in the comments.