The world is mobile. Design for it.
Digital designers, if you are still arguing about responsive design or web versus native, stop. Those arguments are irrelevant. The world you are designing for is mobile. The desktop (and tablet) experience — web or native — is merely extra credit.
There has never been a more personal, more relevant, and more enthusiastically adopted technology than the smartphone. More people (billions and billions) own and will own a smartphone. Most have never and will likely never own a PC. The desktop web browser is a vestigial oddity. It’s there, yes, and we like it. But, it’s not essential. Not like the smartphone.
If you have the ambition to reach people with your brilliant digital designs, then you are designing for smartphones. (Enterprise or specialty applications are a whole different thing.) The question is now how to reach your smartphone toting users — native, web or hybrid.
You know that native apps can perform faster and can leverage hardware components of the smartphone web browsers can’t. If the experience you’re designing benefits enough from hardware access and needs to be buttery smooth, then it may well justify the cost of native design and development.
If not, then a lower-cost web-based approach may be appropriate. Web interfaces can emulate many aspects of native interfaces, but not at the same level of performance. It also doesn’t get a prominent, visual reminder on your users’ home screens. Will these drawbacks be a significant drag on what you’re trying to do? Can the savings justify the drawbacks? If not, web may be right for you.
If after you sort out your mobile experience and you still have energy, budget and time, then, by all means create a desktop (and/or tablet) web site. It can certainly round out the experience for your users, but today and into the future it’s no longer essential.
(For more on how smartphones are the center of all things, check out Ben Evan’s insightful presentation below.)