Responsive Magento Template vs. Mobile App Extension

Most companies who own a Magento eCommerce store want their customers to be able to access the website through their mobile devices. There are two…
  • Jill Govier
  • Graphic Designer
  • September 19, 2014 Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Most companies who own a Magento eCommerce store want their customers to be able to access the website through their mobile devices. There are two ways to go about this: First, for Magento stores that are not responsive,  an extension  can be purchased that makes the website mobile friendly by adding the mobile app extension to the website. The second option is using a responsive template that already has that feature built in from the beginning.

However, if you already have a website that isn’t already responsive, choosing to redesign your site onto a responsive template can be a difficult decision. While choosing a mobile extension from the Magento Connect Marketplace may seem like the most convenient and less expensive route, it can often lead to challenges and complications that you hadn’t foreseen. A responsive template is the most cost effective decision in the long run, and it is the easiest to maintain.

To be clear, using an extension to make your Magento store mobile friendly is effective. The mobile app extension will do what it is designed to do. However, the true drawback of going this route is the amount of work that needs to be put in to keeping the mobile app website up to date and running. Every time you want to update your website, a second step would have to be made in order to update the mobile version of your website too. Your app essentially acts as its own website, requiring its own maintenance and upkeep. Overtime, this can heavily increase the amount of money your company spends on your website, exceeding the overall cost of redesigning or transferring to a responsive template from the get-go.

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In addition to the fact that your website needs to be updated in two places, if a website has too complex shipping, subscription options, or discount codes it is often quite difficult to make this functionality work on the mobile version of the website exactly the same as on the actual website. As a result, visitors that are accessing the website via a mobile device are not offered the same user experience and see the options that show on a regular browser leading like this into a lost sale.

With a responsive template everything will update at the same time through one admin panel. One adjustment to your site will affect your mobile site, and vice-versa. There’s no separation. All changes whether it be content, organization, design, or others take place in one location.

Continually, mobile apps cannot be indexed through search engines. This will effect your overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking as your traffic patterns won’t register appropriately. With the responsive template, all traffic will be directed to one location, and so your ranking should not be affected negatively.


Mobile App User: Kombucha Brooklyn


Responsive Magento Template User: Junie Moon



Responsive templates can easily fit into any platform and there are no extra steps you need to follow. They are already built and ready to go, so you don’t have to worry about whether your e-commerce site is fitting correctly on a customer’s device.  Many online shoppers use smart phones or tablets to purchase their goods. They scroll through hundreds of product listings a day, and if they see that your site is not working correctly or easy to navigate, there is a strong chance they’ll leave your site. Having a responsive Magento template can benefit your company and your customers by circumventing this issue.

It would make things easier and faster.  While there may be more cost in setting a responsive template up from the beginning, it will save money in the long run as it is easier to update and manage. While using an extension to create a mobile version of your Magento store, also known as a  mobile app, can work well too, the excess time and money spent keeping both the mobile app and the main site running simultaneously and effectively may not be worth it. 

If you are creating your Magento website from scratch, choosing to build  it with a responsive template is the ideal way to go. It is more expensive as an  upfront investment, but it saves time, money, and energy in the long run by allowing you to have both a computer and mobile friendly site up and running in one fell swoop.

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