Responsive design, recently adopted by many popular eCommerce sites, is repurposing content based on the device and/or screen resolution of the end user. While mobile and tablet applications once piqued the interest of online retailers, the flexibility of being able to manage a single piece of web content that caters to numerous devices has allowed responsive design to replace the mobile application process in some scenarios.
So what do eCommerce professionals need to know? Here are 5 things to know about responsive design and eCommerce…
1) Improved user-experience, especially on smaller screens – Gone for many online retailers is the process of forcing consumers to download an application to shop with a brand online or forcing consumers to adjust to a huge website on a small screen. While some larger online retailers may still advertise applications, this isn’t necessarily the focus of today’s mobile commerce strategy. Online retailers utilizing responsive design are generally seeing consumers respond positively to the new, more user-friendly experience with decreased bounce rates and increased page views from mobile and tablet sessions.
2) A boost in conversion rate due to responsive design is likely – A fully-functional responsive design site is still the exception rather than the rule for many online retailers. As key site traffic stats such as page views increase, it only makes sense that consumers are more likely to complete transactions on mobile and tablet devices, especially when the check-out process is catered to these devices. Many major brands have noticed a mobile and tablet conversion rate increase of over 20% across several verticals since making the switch to a responsive design site with several apparel brands seeing an even larger increase.
3) Responsive design isn’t easy to implement initially – Online retailers are always looking to increase their conversion rates and sales, so why are some retailers waiting to add a responsive design site to cater to mobile and tablet devices? The answer is simple – implementing responsive design on an existing site isn’t easy. The process of making a current site responsive can result in a complete overhaul of the styling and creative of the site, a project which can consume many development hours and cost thousands of dollars. As a result of this, many online retailers are looking to implement responsive design with their next “site refresh” as building responsive elements on a new site is generally more cost effective.
4) One set of code makes development changes easier, improves SEO – One of the major disadvantages of the site and application solution for many online retailers is the need to update multiple places with new content and creative. With a responsive design site, the same content is utilized for desktop, mobile, and tablet devices with creative scaled to the resolution of the device. Additionally, all traffic via mobile and tablet devices through a responsive design site will utilize the same URL as the traditional eCommerce site, thus increasing the total site traffic to that URL and boosting its rankings in search engines. An application stands alone and even though it contains the same content and creative it will not help SEO rankings as it is not a direct part of an eCommerce site.
5) Site speed impact – One negative to responsive design is the fact that you are adding more code not only to your site pages but also to your CSS documents. This means that as an eCommerce site loads, it will check this code to determine at what resolution to load the site at based on your device. With more code in place for a site to decipher, this means the loading time for an eCommerce site with responsive design elements may take longer than a site that does not have responsive design.
In short, responsive design is a trend that is growing not only in the eCommerce industry but throughout the entire internet. While not all online retailers currently have sites with responsive design, many are looking to make their next site feature a responsive design component as more evidence is appearing to support the fiscal benefits of responsive design sites. Moving forward, it’s likely the number of sites utilizing responsive design will continue to grow as more consumers around the world increase their usage of mobile and tablet devices.