Apps vs Responsive Browser Magazines. Which Should You Create?

Check out the pros and cons.

Choosing the right platform for your digital magazine can be quite difficult. At some point you have to make a decision whether you are going to use an App or the web for distributing your content. We’ve made it a little easier for you by setting out the pros and cons for both.

First of all, let me explain the difference in how both platforms work. Apps are built to operate natively, which means they are specifically built for each device you are working with. The advantage of an App is that your platform is directly available on your phone or tablet. The disadvantage is that every operating system (Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, etc.) requires a newly built App. Apps for smartphones usually don’t work well on a tablet (if at all), even when the operating system is the same.

For a web application or platform it’s important that it’s responsive. This means that it is scalable for different type of screens and devices. Responsive design scales your platform to any screen size and reframes the functions, buttons, images and other features to work optimally on the device you are using. The big advantage of responsive design is that the same content works on every device. A potential disadvantage is that you won’t have an actual App on your device, but this may simply be a matter of preference.

Internet dependency

There aren’t many places left around the world where you won’t find a working Wi-Fi or 4G/5G internet connection. Still, you might want to use your platform even if there is no internet connection available. In this case you should opt for an App. In many cases, however, an App may still require a connection. A fully local App will only be a viable option if you don’t use any interactive functions or connections. In any other case it doesn’t matter if you go for an App or web platform.

Notifications vs. alerts

Notifications vs alerts for your magazine

For responsive platforms (and for Apps, too) you can use alerts such as email, SMS text messaging, or social media. The advantage of email alerts is that you work with hyperlinks, which direct participants directly to specific content.

One of the big pros of an App is the notification feature. If you want to activate your participants and motivate them directly to learn, notifications can be quite useful.

Content management

For content management, we definitely advise opting for responsive design. It’s easy to edit, add or delete content, and you can publish your changes right away. In the case of Apps, all the (native) content can be changed as well, but this requires programming skills and immediate publishing is not possible. After finishing your revision, you need to distribute a new version of your App through the App stores. If you have Apps for multiple devices/platforms, then all the Apps will need to be changed and redistributed through the App stores. One option is to use web-based text in your App.

Integrating other features

Integrating existing features like video is easy in responsive design. Most of those features can be embedded with a piece of simple code (i-framing). App-based platforms require more complex programming procedures if you wish to add features.

Development costs

You probably saw it coming, but responsive design is much more cost-effective compared to developing native Apps, which take a lot of time to build. The more participants/devices/platforms you want to service, the more Apps you need. If you want your App to be available on iOS, both iPhone and iPad, Android smartphone and tablets and Windows mobile, smartphone and tablets, you’ll need six different Apps. Responsive design is available on any device and much easier to develop. Most web developers can work in HTML5 (internet code). By comparison, there are far fewer native App developers working in the field.

Other interesting reads


What are Responsive Magazines?
Responsive magazines are digital publications designed to adapt seamlessly to different devices and screen sizes.

How Do Responsive Magazines Enhance Reader Experience?
They offer an optimal viewing experience by automatically adjusting layout and content for readability on any device.

What Makes a Magazine ‘Responsive’?
The use of responsive web design techniques that allow the magazine’s layout to change based on the device’s screen size.

Are Responsive Magazines Only Digital?
Yes, the term specifically refers to digital publications accessible on various devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers.

How Do Responsive Magazines Differ from Traditional Digital Magazines?
They are more adaptable to different screen sizes, whereas traditional digital magazines may have a fixed layout.

Can Responsive Magazines Include Interactive Features?
Yes, they can include interactive elements like videos, links, and animations.

What are the Benefits of Responsive Magazines for Publishers?
They reach a wider audience, improve engagement, and offer better analytics on reader behavior.

How Do Responsive Magazines Affect Advertising?
They allow for more dynamic and adaptable advertising that can change based on the reader’s device.

What Challenges Do Publishers Face with Responsive Magazines?
Challenges include designing for multiple devices and ensuring consistent quality across all platforms.

Are Responsive Magazines More Cost-Effective than Print?
They can be more cost-effective due to reduced printing and distribution costs.

How Do Responsive Magazines Contribute to Environmental Sustainability?
They reduce paper use and waste, contributing to eco-friendly publishing practices.

Can Responsive Magazines Be Personalized for Individual Readers?
Yes, they can offer personalized content based on reader preferences and browsing history.

How Do Responsive Magazines Impact Reader Engagement?
Enhanced readability and interactive features in responsive magazines can significantly increase reader engagement.

What Technologies are Used in Creating Responsive Magazines?
Technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript are commonly used for their responsive capabilities.

Are Responsive Magazines Accessible on All Browsers?
They are designed to be compatible with most modern web browsers.

How Do Responsive Magazines Integrate with Social Media?
They often include social sharing options, allowing readers to easily share content.

What is the Role of Analytics in Responsive Magazines?
Analytics play a crucial role in understanding reader behavior and preferences for content optimization.

Can Responsive Magazines Support Offline Reading?
Some responsive magazines offer downloadable content for offline reading.

How Does the Design Process for Responsive Magazines Differ from Print?
It requires a more flexible and dynamic approach to ensure proper display on various devices.

What Future Developments are Expected in Responsive Magazine Publishing?
Future developments may include more advanced interactivity, AI-driven content curation, and enhanced personalization.

Author bio

Ritesh SheombarRitesh is a digital marketing manager with years of experience in driving growth. He’s currently the director of inbound marketing at Foleon. You can find more about him on his LinkedIn profile.

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