Article

Categories Mobile

Responsive Web Design Is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Many sites are moving toward responsive design, but this might be a mistake when it comes to user experience.

Now more than ever, people have come to expect an optimal browsing experience. Mobile has disrupted what this means, bringing forth a number of different types of user has disrupted what this means, bringing forth a number of different types of user experience. Often, this is a good thing. But sometimes, what feels like progress can actually be a step backwards.

Many web developers are moving to responsive design websites to consolidate their web strategy, but this decision can be a setback for long-term success. When determining how to best capture and convert traffic for your brand on every device, it’s important to keep in mind all of your web design options:

  1. Responsive web design
  2. A mobile website
  3. A dedicated app

Responsive design dynamically adapts websites to different screensizes (desktop, tablet smartphones) by leveraging one set of code. The advantage of this approach is that the website’s content and features are the same across devices and the user interface adapts automatically.

This means that companies can reach their customers across any device without the need of a separate mobile site. Both mobile websites and apps involve developing a product distinct from your brand’s primary site and instead tailored to mobile dimensions.

At face value, this seems like a lot of work, money, and resource for a minimal return. But when we dig deeper, we find that development costs and time to build mobile sites only slightly outweigh those for responsive design.

While responsive sites do offer the simplicity of maintaining a single website, simple isn’t always better.

Take, for example, an online travel booking website. A recent Webtrends survey revealed that 41 percent of travelers do their research using a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), but prefer to book with their desktop or laptop (55 percent). Of those surveyed, 31 percent preferred booking on their desktop because of the small size of the mobile screen.

Given the number of steps involved in an average travel purchase, a simpler site that doesn’t offer horizontal navigation or requires more scrolling may run the risk of alienating its loyal desktop users. It’s important to keep in mind that the features we take for granted in desktop web design can be difficult to reproduce for responsive websites.

Before selecting a mobile solution, it’s essential to dedicate substantial time to really understanding the intent behind your customer’s behavior, rather than the behavior itself. Let’s say only 20% of your monthly visitors access your site with a mobile device. This may indicate that you should dedicate more resources to the larger desktop user base, but it could also indicate that the experience of using your site on mobile is dreadful.

Engagement metrics can guide this decision to a point, but analytics are based on trends and the way consumers are interacting with the product at hand. Why not give them something better? While mobile transactions continue to increase, user behavior also continues to change, and it may not follow the trajectory we expect. What won’t change is the reason your customer loves your brand. Don’t compromise—optimize.

In web design, the best of both worlds is a myth. You may think your responsive site will look pretty good on the new iPhone, not too bad on an Android tablet, and just fine on the desktop.

Unfortunately, responsive sites are not device-agnostic, and “just fine” will likely translate to “terrible” or effectively “unusable.” Over the lifetime of your brand, an incrementally higher cost and time investment will result in a far superior experience for your customer—and for you.

Here’s the bottom line: until responsive design makes major advances, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The priority of any website is to give the user what they expect. A single design that contorts itself to fit the device of choice often disrupts the user experience and, therefore, the user.

More options in the mobile age doesn’t just mean more types of design—it means when your customer feels frustrated, they can head elsewhere.

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

What's the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and why does it matter? The answers may surprise you.

Julie Cave
Julie Cave 14 July 2016
Read more
4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

4 Important Digital Marketing Channels You Should Know About

It goes without saying that a company can't do without digital marketing in today's world.

Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 5 November 2014
Read more
Your Project Management Sucks. Here's Why.

Your Project Management Sucks. Here's Why.

For every amazing finished project produced, there is a project management process put in place that made it happen. The question is -- Are you using the process that’s right for you?

Margo Romanowski
Margo Romanowski 11 October 2017
Read more
These 5 Changes Are Coming For Your Site in 2018. Are You Ready?

These 5 Changes Are Coming For Your Site in 2018. Are You Ready?

Let's face it, the Internet is ever-changing. Some changes you can’t predict: at the start of 2011, no one realized that responsive would practically be a requirement by the end of the year. But some changes are known and scheduled. Let’s look at some of the biggest changes that may affect the way your company communicates through digital channels.

Mike Norman
Mike Norman 13 October 2017
Read more
Three things we learned at the Festival of Marketing

Three things we learned at the Festival of Marketing

Last week Digital Doughnut joined hundreds of marketers attending the Festival of Marketing at Tobacco Dock in East London, to hear 160 hours of presentations and panel discussions spread over two days.

Linus Gregoriadis
Linus Gregoriadis 9 October 2017
Read more