When we discuss with our clients about web design an inevitable questions appears in the conversation: What is responsive design?
Finding out that this is a recurrent subject , we decided to make an article explaining why you should know something about Responsive Design and how does it affect your business.
The WHY of Responsive Design
We live right now in a period where smartphone are something usual. eMarketer expects 1.76 billion people to own and use smartphones till the end of 2014. An increase of over 25% compared to 2013. In Jan 2014 42% of US adults owned a tablet and were actively browsing the internet on it. Multi-screen is the new norm now. We browse the internet on our tablets to shop while we watch our TV. We check our social stream on our smartphone while we work on our laptop.
After reading these statistics a question pops up in our mind:
Is your website prepared for the mobile revolution ?
What is Responsive design ?
Responsive design is a design approach aimed at creating sites that provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices. The same site works on the mobile phone in your pocket, tablet in your backpack and computer at your office. A responsive web design adapts the layout of the site, text, media, ads to the dimension of the window through which you are exploring the internet.
If you open a site on your mobile phone and you have to zoom, pinch, and flick around with your fingers to be able to read or see anything, then that is not a responsive design.
If you can read and everything seems to be in it’s place than the site is responsive.
Another way of seeing if a site is responsive is to make the window smaller and see if it rearranges as you decrease the size to fit the screen.
Our site is responsive so try decreasing your browser window. As you can see the page fits nicely as you decrease the size of the browser
If you would like to see some more responsive site than you could try the ones below:
Why is Responsive design vital for your business?
1. The same brand experience on all the platforms
From a branding perspective having a responsive site is crucial. “The users expect to have a seamless experience across all their devices” – Google B2B campaign. They want to see the same content, similar layout and want to have access to the same options and possibilities across all their mediums.
As you can see in the images above, harvard.edu offers a unitary brand experience. Even more, you can access all the content of the site, regardless of screen size or device that you use.
Google made in 2012 a research on customers opinions regarding mobile sites. The result they found were the following:
When you have a mobile friendly site
- When they visited a mobile-friendly site, 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future
- 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service
When you don’t have a mobile friendly site
- 48% of users say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly
- 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites
- 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company
- 48%said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business
As you can see there is much to gain and a lot to lose when not having a mobile site. When you have a responsive site you have a friendly desktop/tablet/smartphone site in one. Thus you get the added benefit of delivering a full brand experience regardless of the device the people use.
2. Google likes it
With an astounding global market share of 88.21% Google remains the main actor in the search market, followed by Bing with 4.29% and Yahoo with 3.34%. Being on the good side of Google means more organic search traffic and more leads for your company.
But why does Google like Responsive Design ?
- Using a single address for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share and link. A single address makes Google’s algorithms work easier and this means that your content gets indexed faster.
- If you have a responsive design the users don’t get redirected to another website, thus the loading time decreases and the chance of a bounce appearing decreases.
- When you have one address Google’s crawlers need to access your pages only once thus saving resources for both your company and Google. Less resources used by Google means that your site will be checked faster and more often.
- When you share from a mobile site, chances are that a person from a different medium like a tablet or desktop will access the link. They will get a bad version of your site and bounce immediately right out of it. This increase in bounce rate can hurt your Google ranking for that page and for your site.
For more specific info you should access Building Smartphone Optimized Websites in Google developers.
3. Use less resources. Save more time
When you have a responsive site you don’t have to worry about managing different platforms, putting content in various places or creating separate SEO and ad campaigns. Why should you do everything twice when you can save time and money.
Having one platform means that once you updated all your clients instantly receive the same content. Consumers expect to have the same offers and the same content available on all your channels. Making this possible means an increase in user happiness and sales.
4. Responsive sites drive conversion
As you could read at the start of the article, the number of people that are surfing the web on their mobile devices is already huge, and it continues to increase. This means that if you don’t step up your game, you are going to lose leads every second that you don’t have a mobile friendly site.
Even more than this, users are now cross-platform shoppers. They research and get information from several channels before making a purchase. Your website is a valuable resource for them and if they don’t find what they want they are less likely to make a purchase.
The global consulting company Accenture made a research on consumers in retails shops and they got interesting results. 27% of shoppers expect to increase their purchase via mobile phone while only 49% of retailers have purchasing capabilities on their mobile site. 36% percent of the respondents find shopping via mobile easy and 60% of them are interested in posting to social media while shopping in store.
If you want to be sure that you are going to make the sell, then don’t break the chain.
A responsive design will also increase the user experience of your customers. No pinching, zooming, awkward flicking for your clients when they will visit your site. A unified design will help them feel at home. In time they will become accustomed to your site and will instinctively know what are the steps to take in order to achieve their goal. This means higher conversion rates and happy customers.
5. Prepare for the unpredictable
We do not know what are the future screen dimensions that will appear on the mobile/tablet/pc market. This uncertainty does not scare us. We know that responsive design can tackle almost any screen resolution if it’s done right. If something new appears than we just have to make some tweaks and not a full design overhaul.
How much does Responsive Design cost ?
To give an answer to this question we are going to give you you two examples:
1. A client requested a desktop version of a site. After we delivered, they wanted the site to be optimized for mobile and tablet. The final cost of the project increased by 30%.
2. Another client requested a desktop site and a mobile site. We proposed a responsive design for his project. The final cost was 10% less than if we would have made a desktop and a separate mobile site.
From our experience a responsive design might or might not cost you more in the developing stage. On the long term though we can be sure that:
- it will save you money for site maintenance;
- you will use less HR resources and the updates will be easier;
- the stress and chances of mistakes will be decrease because you will not have to manage multiple platforms;
- will generates more leads will be Google Friendly.
In the end, taking all into consideration, we advice you as we advice all our clients, go responsive :).
If you liked what you read subscribe to our newsletter to get fresh articles and a list of curated links about marketing, design, ux and business.
If you have an interesting web project sends us a message and let’s get in touch.
Here you can find the resources that we used to create this article. Thanks a lot!