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Can Responsive Web Design Increase Conversions?

by Matthew T. Grant

Can Responsive Web Design Increase Conversions? image
Can Responsive Web Design Increase Conversions?

It was reported earlier this year that only 15% of websites are "fully responsive" (i.e., "they require no redirection for optimal use on a mobile device").

This seems odd given that the data seems to imply that responsive sites outperform their non-responsive competition.

In April, for example, the Aberdeen Group released a study which indicated that visitor-to-buyer conversion rates for responsive sites were 4x that of non-responsive sites. This same study also showed that responsive sites performed better in terms of "customer engagement, brand awareness, company revenue, and average order value."

The Aberdeen Group study appears to reinforce the performance figures that Luke Wroblewski reported for individual sites back in 2013. These included 101.2% revenue growth on iPhone/iPad and 591.4% revenue growth on Android devices for O'Neill Clothing, a 70% increase in revenue per visitor for Fathead, a 71.9% conversion rate increase on iPhone for Skinny Ties, and a 26% decrease in mobile bounce rate for Time Magazine.

And if you needed any more ammo for your pro-responsive business case, eConsultancy compiled a list of 14 brands that increased conversions with responsive design.

The Case for Responsive Design

Setting these results aside, the case has long since been made for responsive design. 

It helps you avoid the inefficiencies inherent in trying to maintain a desktop site along with a separate mobile site and/or mobile app.

It creates a seamless experience across devices in a world where people regularly move from one device to the next.

It actually helps with site design and development by encouraging you to take a mobile-first approach and think very clearly about giving users exactly what they need when they visit.

Oh, yeah, and Google recommends it.

So, what is the hold up?

Well, there is some evidence that responsive sites load more slowly, particularly if they are image heavy. (This doesn't seem like a deal breaker to me, more like a reminder that you have to do responsive right.)

In addition to these performance issues, Grant Kemp suggested four other reasons that companies may want to hold off on responsive. These reasons essentially boil down to reasons why you may want to maintain differences between the mobile experience and the desktop experience.

Responsive design, as the name implies, relies on a model in which you design one site and then use techniques that allow your design to respond to various screen sizes. One benefit is, as I mentioned, that you don't have to maintain two versions of your site.

If, however, the aim of your mobile site differs greatly from that of your desktop site, either in your eyes or in those of the user, then you may want to have two versions after all. 

What's been your experience?

If your company made the leap to responsive, why did you do it and what have been the results?

If you have chosen to hold off or follow a different web strategy to accommodate mobile (smartphone and tablet) users, why did you do that?

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the practice of responsive web design, did you know we offer a free, online responsive web design course?

Image Source (Creative Commons): Rune Leth Andersen.

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