“Day by day, the number of devices, platforms, and browsers that need to work with your site grows. Responsive web design represents a fundamental shift in how we’ll build websites for the decade to come.” Jeffrey Veer.
It takes us 1.7 seconds to judge a website (a recent Yahoo.com study revealed). Survey after survey tells us that if a customer’s had a bad experience on a site, they’re not coming back. Some significant things are happening on the web at the moment that anyone with a website needs to plan for. Here are ten stats for you to consume, although I don’t think there will be any surprises:
1. Mobile users will surpass desktop users before the end of 2014.
2. 66% of smart phones & tablets users are frustrated with page load times.
3. Responsive design must be executed elegantly to ensure fast & fluid load times.
4. Mobile traffic now accounts for 16% of all web traffic.
5. 16% of smart phones & tablet users said, "If Page Load Too Slow We Give Up."
6. 85% of adults think that a company's mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website.
7. 69% of tablet users have shopped via their tablets device in the last 30 days.
8. According to a survey by Google, 48 % of users said that if a site didn't work well on their smart phone, it made them feel like that company didn't care about their business.
9. 67% of users are more likely to make a purchase with a smartphone on a mobile friendly site than on a non-mobile optimised site.
10. 90% of people use multiple device screens sequentially.
Responsive web design is when the design and development should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. From a technical perspective it consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. From a user experience point of view it means the site switches from their laptop to iPad to mobile automatically to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences.
So what are the reasons for going responsive?
The first one is what I call one site for every screen - The user now expects their experience to be the same no matter which device accesses the site's content. As consumers increasingly use mobile devices to shop, responsive design can ensure this activity is similar on a desktop, phone or tablet and with over half of the UK's population now owning a smart phone, content must be optimised for the various devices.
SEO appreciates it - Google has 67% search market share. Google likes responsiveness because responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, which makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organise content. And it gets better, responsive web design content that lives on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on a separate mobile site.
Cost effectiveness - You’ll need separate SEO campaigns for desktop and mobile. That means one thing, it costs more in time and energy and you’ll possibly lose leads and sales. A key advantage a responsive website has over a separate mobile site is management time and performance.
Responsive adapts to future devices - one of the significant benefits of responsive design is that the size page is designed based on screen size not device. This means that no matter what size screen someone is viewing your website it will display appropriately. So in the future as new devices (watches, glasses, etc.) are being used for web browsing, your responsive site will be able to cope.
Social channels are delivering traffic to sites - a recent study by ComScore cites that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device. If your customers and you are sharing content, curating links or links to your website and don’t have a mobile friendly website, you’re not only going to experience high bounce rates and low conversion rates but also a very frustrated audience.
So do you go responsive or mobile website? We get asked a lot whether to go down the responsive design route or build a mobile site. As we’ve said, a responsive site is a site that will adjust to fit any size screen, whether it’s desktop, mobile, or tablet. A mobile site is essentially a copy of your website, where the server does the work to deliver an optimised page thats smaller and easier to navigate.
And, choose this when it might be too expensive to redesign responsively. My advice would always be responsive and then design a mobile app for a specific function and experience you wish customers to have. Rule of thumb is responsiveness first before anything else.
Just a few more things to consider
1. Mobile is a different channel - sending desktop content to mobile isn’t good enough. We use different devices to do different things.
2. Your designs, layouts and content need to be responsive, fluid and work well on whatever device your customers are using it on.
3. Don’t direct potential customers to your home or payment page until you’ve optimised it for mobile and tablet users. You’ll potential reduce conversion rates and lose sales.
4. Huge point - mobile is location based, it’s always on, its realtime – you can engage with customers when they are out and about and can push offers/vouchers to get their attention wherever they are.
5. 85% of search is for the moment – people are looking for maps, telephone numbers, better prices, product reviews, information and entertainment.
6. Mobile needs to be part of your editorial process and marketing strategy – co-ordinate your activities so content can be delivered to multiple channels and tailored for each.
If it has been more than 2 years since you refreshed your website, it's time to start thinking about making it responsive and optimised. Older features are becoming outdated. We had a problem recently where a prospective clients site used Flash, many smart phones don't currently support it, meaning that customers won't be able to see your content.
Gone are the days of spending all your budget on the design and build of your website, uploading it and then expecting the work to be done. Three critical things if you’re considering updating:
1. Demand a responsive site from your website designer.
2. Budget in the design and build phase for the digital marketing of that site and its integration with social media.
3. Ensure you have an ongoing budget for continuous growth and development of one of your most important assets.
And finally here’s an example of how it can work; Domino’s Pizza uses data, combined with personalisation to target mobile users to increase conversion rates. Its click through rates are huge, for example, on the “4 for 2” offers are sent to a specific demographic on the afternoon of a premier league football match. With £10m of sales via its iPhone app since 2007, Dominos is doing something right, it chose the right solution to fit the campaign.
The key here is that this may be a major food retailer but all of these approaches can easily be adopted by smaller brands. Sure you can think of ways of doing this for business especially if you are in the food sector.
The bottom line is that we highly recommend that all of our clients plan on securing a new mobile or responsive site in 2014 if they haven’t already done so already.