Disclaimer: If there is one thing I can’t stress enough, it’s that design is more than just making something look beautiful. It’s the form, the function and the subtle undertones of everything about the product or website you create. Beautiful design is something I’m entirely consumed by and thus, will most likely underpin the articles I write.
As you may well know, the business world takes a fairly skeptical approach to new fads, especially when it comes to technology and it’s only now that companies are starting to take a look at what responsive design really is. In my opinion design is critical to any business, and if part of design means making your website responsive, it’s something you need to consider. Now if you were Apple, you’d think that if it’s design, it’s great for your business but of course you’re not Apple and you need to be convinced. So here goes nothing!
Responsive websites are necessary
Part of any business plan is doing a market analysis to see what competitors you’re up against. You also take a look at what your target market is and what key things there are about your market that you need to know. Do that market analysis with the web in mind and your target audience suddenly becomes something of a beast in the closet. The sheer number of platforms and devices that exist is phenomenal and you can’t guarantee that you are providing the best experience to all your customers.
So what would the impact be of providing a bad user experience to a small subset of your users? (WARNING: MATHEMATICS IMMINENT) If you have approximately 60,000 hits per day with a conversion rate of 32% that equates to 19,200 hits that are converting. If 5% of your users used a platform you didn’t specifically target (e.g. iPad) that means that 960 hits would possibly not convert due to your lack of design. Now if your average cart amount is $30 then that’s a potential loss of over $10.5 million dollars a year. Now obviously that’s a very crude formula but keep in mind I haven’t even taken into account the word of mouth fallout and brand image degradation.
Enter responsive web design. Responsive web design attacks the issue by ‘responding’ to whatever device or platform that accesses it and placing the focus on providing a quality user experience for all your customers. A small but critical reason why having a responsive website is necessary for your business.
Responsive websites improve conversion rates
Already I’ve touched on the issue of leaving out customers by not using responsive web design to target all your users, but what are other benefits of having a responsive web site?
Glad you asked, because it turns out that it gives you a higher conversion rate. “Wait, didn’t you just say that before?” you ask but there’s a flip side to this coin. Responsive web design not only helps you target all the users who visit your site but it also helps give you a better ranking in google!
In the web and e-commerce world you will know the importance of ranking highly for that coveted keyword that your primary users search for. You see google can tell when you are targeting all your users and can see them lingering lovingly over your pages. All that love juice makes google so happy that it ranks you up a spot or two. Seriously though, the SEO benefits of responsive web design are incredible. The guys at SEOmoz have done a great job in showing exactly how responsive web design impacted their organic traffic.
The key things to note are that responsive web design makes your content consistent from the mobile through to the desktop and that your website’s functionality is consistent no matter what device or platform you use. Customers love consistency because it gives them a sense of stability and therefore trust.
Responsive Websites are good design:
As I said at the beginning, if you’re Apple, you know that great design is something that will make your product last, and improve your brand image therefore increasing sales. This methodology can be seen in the life of Dieter Rams whose furniture designs are still in use today.
Dieter Rams has ten design principles which he feels make a great design. They are:
- Is innovative
- Makes the product useful
- Improves aesthetics
- Makes the product understandable
- Is unobtrusive
- Is honest
- Is long lasting
- Is thorough to the last detail
- Is environmentally friendly
- Promotes as little design as possible
To me, responsive websites are definitely innovative, promote as little design as possible and make the product useful and understandable. Really to me, responsive websites address almost all of these key things. Again I can’t stress how much this is key to your users having an excellent experience on your website. A frustrating website leaves a bad taste in the mouth of a user but a website that ‘just works’ is a beauty to behold with awe. You yourself know that the little things tend to be the ones that annoy you the most: “If only it just did x”. Think about your customers who look at your website on an unsupported platform and say that.
A responsive website is necessary, it makes good business sense and is the poetry of the web. I think it’s time you considered having responsive web design for yourself.