So what is the actual difference between a responsive website and a real 'mobile site' and a mobile app?
1. Should I go with a responsive template?
First of all, what is responsive? It basically means that your website has the intelligence to change based on the screen size that is viewing the site. This sometimes works well on mobile, but other times your customers may find it difficult to find the menus etc.
If that option is available to you, yes, that should be the first option to take. Once the website is built, check it out on a mobile device.
A sample responsive template is my website: rytechsites.com (I did not bother creating a mobile version of this site). So it is viewable on a mobile device, but it may not be an ideal solution.
2. What about a mobile site design?
Recently I have been very successful using mobile joomla for many of my websites. This tool is considered 'device dependant', which means that depending on the device that opens up the website, the template, modules and features can completely change. This could be great, for example if you have a large rotating slideshow on your website, do your customers need to see this on their cell phone, or are they just interested in your hours and directions?
The cost for this could vary. To license the product it is $100 per year, plus you may need to pay a developer to design the site for you in the right colors, options, etc, which you can figure 2-3 hours of work on top of the license cost.
Sample sites using this tool are (view them on your computer, then view them on a table, and view on a cell phone):
3. What about a mobile app?
This is a good option, but not a cheap one. There are companies out there offering free mobile apps, but they restrict the number of downloads, and you have to pay to get listed in google play, and once you hit the max of downloads, you are done!
I presented this topic at a User group meeting in NJ. click on the link below for a download of the presentation...