Responsive web design is an approach to creating websites that deliver an optimal viewing experience for easy reading and site navigation, and minimal resizing, panning, and scrolling. A responsive design will adapt for optimal viewing across a range of devices including mobile phones, tablets, and computer monitors. With the rise of mobile commerce, it is necessary to have a site that is optimized for mobile devices. Electing to implement a responsive web design is one way to engage in mobile optimization, but is it the right implementation for you?
Why do businesses elect a responsive design? The idea of having a design that adapts to various screen sizes using just one set of code is alluring. Consistency is key across all channels of your business, and a responsive web design allows the presentation of core content to remain the same regardless of screen size while the presentation of the information formats for optimal viewing. A responsive web design also allows companies to serve clients through one platform rather than creating separate sites for mobile devices, fostering a deeper level of consistency. The efficiency granted by responsive web design gives a simplified development process for the site along with no need to manage mobile proxies or redirects.
While the benefits of having a responsive site are numerous, there are a set amount of risks as well. Building a responsive web design is challenging, as site speed, design integrity, and user experience must all be factored into the final product. Also, as an eCommerce retailer, your site must always have a clear call to action, i.e. checkout button. Despite having the same information, it may not be presented in the same fashion across devices. You wouldn’t want users to have to scroll through your pages to checkout, so electing to overcome restrictions from the responsive grid system will allow you to implement conversion-optimization features. Running a conversion optimization test will allow you to find the ideal layout, design, content and call to action for devices.
So is responsive web design right for you? Internet retailer recommends you ask yourself “does the user’s needs change when their device changes?” If their needs remain consistent then yes, responsiveness is a good step to take. However, “If the user's needs are different you need to know why so you can determine the best solution. For instance, do they need access to device functionality not currently available through the browser?”(internetretailer.com), if this is the case, a mobile app may be most beneficial. Regardless, responsive web design is a wonderful way for eCommerce retailers to consolidate their multi-screen web strategy. As internet retailer states, “responsive is part of a strategy, and not the strategy itself.” So, it is important to implement responsive design, yet for optimal conversion for eCommerce businesses, additional components must be included too.