Answering Your Holiday Wish To Cut Through Responsive Design Hype

Posted by Jeff Hasen on December 3rd, 2013 at 8:46 am

My 2013 Mobile All-Hype list includes wearables, Real-time Bidding (RTB), “mobile only” and responsive design.

To hear some tell it, responsive design is the end-all, as much of a no-brainer as indoor plumbing.

Or is it?

Mobile expert Michael Becker and I explored the pros and cons recently in a webinar for Market Motive.

Here’s some of what was discussed:

First, here’s a definition. Responsive design is an approach for developing a flexible, fluid and adaptive web experience across digital media properties. These may include personal computer, mobile web and applications (phones, tablets, phablets), email, SmartTVs, and the aforementioned wearables.

There are just as many reasons to do it as not.

Why go there?

  • To establish a solid “customer-first” presence and consistent brand experience
  • Responsive design provides the broadest reach for both sustained presence and campaigns
  • It can make tracking your customer’s journey across different platforms easier
  • It forces you to concentrate on mobile first, meaning you really define what the core content for your site is
  • If you don’t, Google will punish you in organic search results because they’re looking for an optimized mobile first experience

Why you shouldn’t go there:

  • Your data may not warrant it right now – you may not have enough visitors or open emails now
  • You don’t have the budget
  • A responsive design site doesn’t take advantage of the ability to leverage the performance and capabilities of a native application
  • It can be data heavy since all the sites assess download, possibly slowing the performance of your site down
  • You’re offering the same experience across all device platforms, not taking advantage of the uniqueness of each device platform
  • The initial setup costs can be more expensive, although the long-term costs should be lower
  • There are alternatives: you can also choose to build a mobile specific web site in parallel to your main site

As you plan for 2014, here are some actionable steps:

  • Remember it is about your customer/your prospects needs, not you
  • Remember “a customer/qualified prospect’ is a precious resource.  It is not a thing to waste"
  • Start with an informed business strategy
  • Develop measurable objective(s), no more than three with a specific time horizon and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Don’t feel like you have to implement your entire brand experience
  • Keep it simple

The takeaways from all this?

  • Don’t get distracted by the hype
  • Responsive design is an approach, not a panacea
  • This may be the way to go, but you have options

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