The Importance of Responsive Design

Making your website accessible for as many of your potential customers as possible is crucial. Not only does this maximise the profitability of your website, but it also increases brand awareness and improves brand management immeasurably.

A responsively designed website helps ensure that your wares are beautifully and accurately showcased regardless of the platform that it is being used on. It helps protect websites from becoming fiddly sources of frustration for mobile users, accidently pressing the wrong link and haphazardly opening new pages. The website will automatically adjust itself for the platform on which it is being used, utilising every available inch of the screen. This means that a website can perform equally well on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

New Kid on the Block

Mobile devices are becoming increasingly central to online sales and marketing pushes. With the improving technology, people are more and more reliant on having access to the entirety of the internet whilst on the move. Between 2009 and 2013, the percentage of people who used the internet on a mobile device grew from 20% to 57%. This represents a huge growth for a medium that was scarcely available 7 years ago.

 

iPads by Brad Flickinger

This figure looks only set to increase as smart phone coverage grows and more online brands are adapting mobile-friendly techniques. Even last year, the percentage of internet users who use both PCs and mobile devices to access the internet grew 4% in just a 5 month period.

Trust in Mobile Sales

Monitoring and tracking sales’ sources has always been an important factor in sales marketing and understanding the customer journey. E-commerce websites need to be mindful that mobile devices now account for roughly 15% of all online sales. This demonstrates that customers have increasing trust in using mobile devices for a range of purchases. This figure may even be affected by some e-commerce websites not utilising responsive designs as yet.

More tablets were shipped in 2013 than laptop or desktop computers, demonstrating a significant shift in popularity. In the UK alone, more than 4 million tablets were given as Christmas gifts in 2013. This represented roughly 7% of the country receiving a tablet in one fell swoop. Unsurprisingly, this led to a rise in mobile internet users getting stuck into the online January sales. E-commerce sites who had neglected to invest in a responsively designed website were potentially missing out on a huge market.

January Sales by 5of7

Important Responsive Factors

Simplified Check-Out Process

Rather than having a multi-step process, slim the check-out to one page with simple-to-fill fields.

Clear Navigation

Make it impossible to get lost in the catacombs of your website. A constant top navigation bar makes it simple to access any page from anywhere on the website.

Don’t Condescend

Most mobile internet users are savvy enough to understand that three horizontal bars in a circle represents a menu function. Keep it simple.

Offer all Options

Ensure that all of your main services, categories and functions are easily accessible from the home page.

Don’t Turn your Back on PC Users

Consistency throughout your websites’ design on all platforms is important, many of your users will visit the site on different platforms and will appreciate familiarity.

 

“But I’ve Just Re-Designed my Website!”

Unfortunately for those who have just overhauled their website with just static internet users in mind, responsive websites do not appear to be a short-lived fad. Mashable called 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design, indicating the effect that it has had on the industry. For the first time since 2001, PC sales were down on the previous year, demonstrating a shift in internet-use patterns.

Sad Phone Ron Bennetts

With increasing numbers of users taking advantage of their greater mobile internet resources and more websites accommodating this; there is the risk that non-responsive websites may be left behind in the race for sales. The longer you avoid implementing responsive design, the more sales you risk losing to competitors as your customers face a check-out process not optimised for the smaller screen.

An alternative to completely re-designing your website is to create a bespoke mobile website. Whilst this is not as efficient in building one responsive site for all the platforms, it will allow you to create an effective customer journey for mobile users.

“Heck, my Site isn’t E-Commerce”

Your website should always be a visual representation of how you want your brand to be received by customers, both existing and potential. A clunky website that doesn’t translate onto the mobile platform is poor representation of the brand and would not inspire trust amongst the audience.

As an online brochure for your services, it is your website’s responsibility to sell your brand at all times, whether your visitors are at home or on the move. If a customer visits your site on a tablet and is unimpressed, they are unlikely to revisit when back on the home computer.

There are also significant SEO benefits to be gained from a responsive website. A study indicated that search engine results on a mobile phone search differ by roughly 86% from a desktop search. A site optimised for mobile use can render greater organic footfall from mobile users.

Ignore mobile traffic at your peril.

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Brad Flickinger, 5of7, Ron Bennetts