Since our original post on responsive website design, we’ve been following new trends in this rapidly evolving field closely. Here’s a brief synopsis of what we’ve seen.
Mobile responsive design sites are becoming more common. One factor driving the number of responsive design sites higher is that many eCommerce platforms, such as Volusion, Magento and others, are offering responsive design as an option to support both desktop and mobile platforms. Even standard web design platforms, such as WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly and the like, are including responsive design in their offerings.
Single Responsive Site vs. Separate, Mobile Optimized Responsive Site
In the eCommerce space, some companies use a single responsive design to handle both their desktop and mobile traffic, while others have one responsive design site for desktop and a separate responsive design site for mobile. The advantage in having different sites is that you can have different content and checkout flows for the desktop and mobile users.
Data shows that having some support for mobile is better than not having anything at all. However, standard conversion rates for mobile commerce are a good 50 to 60 percent lower for mobile sites that use a single responsive site for desktop and mobile users. Whereas, mobile-optimized sites typically show only a zero to 20 percent lower conversion rate. This is why having different flows and layouts for mobile versus desktop users is so important.
The key remains that users interact differently on a mobile device than on a desktop. As one recent article put it:
… [Retailers] need to extend their focus to delivering an optimal shopping experience across all devices. This requires a complete understanding of how consumers use different devices during the shopping process and the overall context. For instance, what content and features are site visitors typically consuming when accessing the site from a desktop versus a smartphone? What works on a desktop might not be appropriate on a smartphone, and what works on a smartphone may not deliver an optimal experience on a tablet. Retailers and brands need to examine their analytics to understand where traffic is originating from and how customers are using different devices to interact with the site.
[Responsive Design for Commerce: Optimizing eCommerce for cross-device shopping. June 2014, Kathleen Kimple and Sevag Parsehian, FitForCommerce]
The Verdict on Responsive Web Design
The jury is still out on responsive design. Google and many development teams are pushing it, but data shows that the performance of custom mobile websites is far superior to responsive design, especially in the eCommerce arena. Of the top 50 mobile eCommerce sites, very few are actually using responsive design, and almost none use a responsive design that is shared with their desktop site. Look at Amazon, Target, Walmart, BestBuy, Home Depot, Juicy Couture, Lowes, Victoria Secret, eBay, and Apple — all use custom mobile sites different from their desktop sites.