Is responsive design the answer to your mobile website woes?


Unless you’€™re a last-minute shopper, chances are you’€™ve already taken a substantial chunk off your holiday shopping list over the course of the past few weeks. Whether you braved the storm on Black Friday or simply kicked back online on Cyber Monday, you’ve also likely flocked to your smartphone or tablet to make, €”or at the very least, to assist in making, €”a purchase.

Mobile devices have undoubtedly become a €œubiquitous shopping accessory,€ coming in handy for shoppers who scratch and claw for the absolute lowest prices, as well as those who find it convenient to shop straight from their smartphone or tablet. To no surprise, more evidence has surfaced that suggests this trend isn’t going anywhere, and businesses that lack a fully functional website across multiple platforms are clearly at a stark disadvantage to those that have responsive or mobile-ready sites.

An unprecedented shift in mobile spending shows that consumers indeed use their smartphones and tablets during the current holiday shopping spree, and by 2014, mobile payments are pegged to jump to $630 billion.

It’s almost unheard of to come across a major brand that doesn’t have a website optimized for mobile. Eighty-two percent of the top 50 retailers, including brands like Best Buy and Walgreens, are mobile-ready, with 72 percent of those boasting a smartphone or tablet app. But what about small to medium-sized businesses? Has your business taken the necessary steps to adapt?

Responding accordingly

According to a report from BGR News, experts project holiday tablet and smartphone sales to grow nearly 56 and 40 percent, respectively. Expect PCs sales to sag as a result. With that said, consumers are becoming more comfortable making purchases using these devices.

“Last year’s first-time smartphone owner is this year’€™s first-time showroomer and maybe next year’€™s first-time dabbler in tablet commerce,” said comScore’€™s Eli Goodman.

While smartphone usage has steadily increased in the past five years or so, tablet ownership is growing at an astounding pace, according to comScore. With plenty of options to choose from: the iPad, Kindle, Nexus, etc., adoption will continue at breakneck speed.”€

Those people are less apt to €œdabble€ in tablet commerce on your site if it lacks full functionality on that device. Last week, Mashable’€™s Pete Cashmore penned an article entitled: “Why 2013 is the Year of Responsive Web Design,”€” particularly for content-heavy sites like Mashable and The Boston Globe, for instance. Sites crafted using responsive design adapt to the layout of the window in which you’€™re viewing, regardless of whether you’€™re viewing from a smartphone or tablet device.

Tablet Ownership Graph

Courtesy of comScore

The IDC forecasts more than 122 million tablets shipped worldwide due to high demand in 2012. And according to Gartner, mobile phones will trump PCs as the most common device in which we access the web. Furthermore, IDC predicts that tablet shipments worldwide “should reach 282.7 million.€ Conceivably, more people using tablets and smartphones will equate only to more people becoming more apt to use their devices to research and purchase items.

Business owners must understand what it is their intended audience is looking for when accessing their website/application on a mobile device before deciding whether a responsive-built site is in their best interests.

Losing out

Consumers will simply turn their backs on a website that is not optimized for mobile use. According to Mashable, a Google survey revealed the following:

  • The majority of the 1,088 adult smartphone owners tallied said that they would promptly leave a site if it is not optimized for mobile and instead will visit a competitor’s mobile-capable site.
  • A poor mobile experience can actually hurt your brand. More than half of the people surveyed admitted that a dreadful mobile experience caused them to turn their back on that particular company in the future.
  • Most importantly, consumers will return as a result of a pleasant mobile experience and ultimately buy from you.

Although responsive design has its shortcomings for €œimage-heavy sites€, as detailed by Don Davis of Internet Retailer, it is one of the most cost-effective ways for small to medium-sized businesses to adjust to the shift in mobile.

Below are five exceptional examples of responsive design, including our recently designed blog (shameless plug).

1. Mainstreethost’s Search Marketing Blog

MSH Search Marketing Blog

2. Prime Social Marketing

Prim Social Marketing Blog

3. Blue Moon Brewing Company

Blue Moon Brewing Company

4. The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe

5. Grey Goose vodka

Grey Goose Vodka

Images courtesy of Patrick Depuy

About The Author:Brandon Koch
Brandon Koch is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Mainstreethost, a digital marketing agency in Buffalo, N.Y. He writes about a variety of topics, including content marketing, social media, sports and more. Connect with Brandon: Google+ | Twitter | Linkedin