Published On: 09/18/2014

435 Web Development

When thinking about how you and your customers are using technology today, perhaps the biggest shift is in the number of devices a typical consumer now uses, and how prevalent those devices are throughout their day.  From early morning and throughout their commute when they check their mobile phone, to throughout the workday when they are perched in front of their laptop or desktop computers, it seems as if ‘screens’ are an omni-present part of daily life.  And this doesn’t even take into account growing tablet usage, especially ‘dual-screening’ in the evenings when consumers are watching television and on their tablet simultaneously.  In fact, a recent comScore study found that over half of digital consumers (56%), constitute the ‘multi-platform majority’, using at least two devices daily.

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The biggest response to this ‘multi-platform’ trend can best be seen in how websites are now being built, for businesses and content sites both large and small. Responsive Web Design is an approach whereby a website “responds to” or resizes itself depending on the type of device it is being seen through, whether a desktop computer monitor, laptop, tablet, or smartphone screen of any size.  The purpose of responsive design is to have one site, but with different elements that respond differently when viewed on devices of different sizes, leading ultimately to a better end user experience.  Recently, ChicagoTribune.com, a Chicago Tribune Media Group property, underwent a dramatic redesign that included a shift to a fully responsive platform.  In addition, retailers and businesses are seeing the value and efficiency of building one website that will cater to all consumers.

Responsive Web Design is much more than a passing trend in the digital advertising space.  The platform offers many key advantages to businesses large and small:

Attracting and Keeping Mobile Consumers

The online search and consumer process can be a highly competitive one.  In order to be considered by a customer, your website first must be seen and engaged with.  Consumer patience for non-optimized sites on their mobile devices is very thin.  In fact, one Google study found that 61% of site visitors will quickly ‘bounce’, or move off of, a mobile website if they don’t find what they are looking for right away.  Part of that frustration often comes from the ‘pinch and zoom’ consumers experience when navigating a non-optimized website on their mobile device.  Responsive design works to showcase your website and message clearly and cleanly to customers on their mobile screens.

Editing and Updating With Ease

Often in the past (and currently), websites were built on two platforms–one for desktop usage, and another mobile website that would be optimized for that platform.  Although it solved the user experience problem, it is also an expensive solution.  Not only are you paying to maintain two websites, essentially, but there are also two sets of updates that need to be done to content.  Responsive design alleviates that duplication, with one platform that allows for one set of updates.

Staying Competitive and Cutting-Edge

Consumers are looking for a clean user experience on all their devices.  In a sense, this has become the expectation.  In order to retain customers and gain new business, your mobile web presence needs to be optimized.  Frustrated consumers will turn to a competitor, and if that competitor offers a better web experience, their business may be lost forever.  In fact, Google states that 52% of mobile site visitors said a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a brand and 48% said that a bad experience made them feel that the company didn’t care about their business.  Responsive design allows you to capture consumers, no matter where they are in the buying process.

Leveraging responsive design for your business’ website is really about addressing customer needs, and driving value for your consumers.  When trying to reach the multi-platform digital and mobile audience, keep a few things in mind to guide your decision-making:

  • Be everywhere.  Develop cross-channel campaigns that are as silo-free as possible.  Aim to be seamless.
  • Be consistent.  The basic messaging needs to remain the same, even as screens and assets vary.
  • Be flexible.  Even as a brand’s look and feel is consistent, the specific advertising assets that work on one screen may not be best for all screens.
  • Be helpful.  Give the audience good reason to spend time with your brand.
  • Be understanding.  Use data to fathom your audience’s motivations and preferences—how to reach them on various screens, at various times, and in various locales.

These best practices will work to serve the consumer first, and ultimately benefit your business.  They are important things to keep in mind no matter what new endeavors you are exploring for your brand, including a shift to building a responsive web presence.