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What is responsive design and do I need it?

What is responsive design and do I need it?

May 07, 2014 by Sarah Orchard

What is responsive design and do I need it?/responsive web design word on slateThere is no doubt about it, the unrelenting rise of the smartphone and tablet cannot be ignored. Your customers are constantly on the go and being able to access their life in the palm of their hand makes it all a bit easier.

But does your website do the same for them? Have you tried to undertake your main customer website activities on a smartphone or tablet? Was it as easy as on a desktop device?

For many businesses, the answer is simply “no”.

Smartphone proliferation

A recent article by eMarketer indicated that in 2012 the global smartphone audience surpassed the one billion mark and will reach 1.75 billion in 2014 and continue to rise.

By 2017, smartphone penetration among mobile phone users globally is likely to be approximately 50%. Recent Deloitte research stated that the number of smartphone users in the UK has reached 72% — that means that seven out of ten of your customers may be viewing your website on a smartphone.

Will they like what they see? And how do you know whether mobile customers are important to your business?

If you look at your Google Analytics data you will see the constant rise of your mobile device visitor (you do check your GA reports, don’t you?). I’m certainly seeing this pattern across the website stats for many of my clients. Some business sectors are seeing larger shifts to mobile device visitors than others but I can assure you that every business is seeing these percentages on the up.

The case for responsive design

If you have a website that has a transactional element to it — so your user needs to complete a purchase or a task, like registration or sign up — then I think you need to consider developing a responsive design website. This is the gold standard in mobile web and means that no matter what device is used to access your site it will shrink and adjust how it displays content, making the user experience easy and enjoyable.

If yours is a brochure-style website, you can probably get away with what you have for the moment. However, I would highly recommend you test it on tablets and smartphone devices to see how it renders and if it is still usable. I have seen some absolute shockers in terms of what can happen to your beautiful website when viewed on a smartphone! If it’s unusable for your customer you are risking losing out on business.

Should I get a mobile app?

I would recommend a responsive design website as a minimum and then consider if any part of your customer journey is suitable for translating into an app. Apps have many advantages — generally they do not need an internet connection, the user interface can be streamlined, and you can focus the customer on the task in hand.

But be careful not to get drawn into developing an app simply for the sake of it. You don’t necessarily need one, they’re not cheap (around £5,000 upwards) and they have ongoing development costs, so it isn’t a one-off investment.

As with all marketing tools, it depends on your target audience. Find out first how your customers behave online — are they increasingly accessing your site via their mobile devices. This should drive your decision to develop a more mobile/tablet-friendly online presence to aid website conversion and sales growth.

Sarah Orchard is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and a consultant at Orchard Marketing Associates.

Further reading


Comments

Perfect example is one of our clients in Cardiff, only a couple of years a go was a mobile specific website built for them. 2 years later, dozen more tablets and phones on the market with various screen sizes. Needless to say the mobile specific website can not handle all the different sizes and unfortunately could not when it was built. (worth saying we didn't build it as we were using responsive technology as far back as the end of 2011) Nowadays if you really do need a specific mobile site for one reason or another, make that responsive too at least. Thanks for the article! Comment by Webjects

Using responsive design in a website nowadays is a must. Since more people uses mobile gadgets and if your website does not look good on those gadgets they just have to look for another one. Know more on marketing techniques here in ClickMinded - Digital Marketing Course

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