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Why responsive website design matters

In a nutshell a responsive website is one website which ‘presents’ itself in an optimal way for the website user. Regardless of whether they are viewing your site on a standard browser, a smartphone, a tablet or a large screen – they will have a good browsing experience.

Many retailers run at least a standard browser version website and a general mobile version (sometimes multiple mobile versions). In many ways this approach is now far from ideal. Below I’ll outline three key benefits of having a responsive ecommerce website.

Firstly, responsive means there is only one website/set of web pages for your team to manage and look after, in terms of content, promotional banners, landing pages, links in marketing emails and so forth, which means they will be more efficient straight away.

Secondly, a responsive website delivers and optimal user experience which will drive up conversions rates. Regardless of the users’ device – whether it is an Android smartphone, an iPhone, a large tablet and small tablet, a laptop or a desktop.

Whatever device the user comes in on they will be able to browse the site, see products, buy products and indeed bookmark URL’s (very important when you consider users increasingly browse on smartphones and purchase on tablets) and share a web page address on social media.

Share and share alike

The importance of the point about social media link sharing and engagement is worth making. Many brands and retailers are communicating with consumers on Facebook and Twitter daily – new products, sales, promotions, flash sales.

Having users choosing to share that content with their friends is the ‘Holy Grail’ of 21st century marketing. However where users share links with others these links are accessed on any number of devices – if the original link is for a standard site and the users clicks it from a smart phone, chances are they aren’t going to have a great experience (the page may be slow to load, the presentation of page content dis-jointed) and the marketing effort will be in vain. Responsive websites remove this headache from the equation.

With a responsive website nobody gets short changed with a website that is slow; awkward and fiddly to use. This means the site will work smoothly for all users and these users will be able to easily navigate the site, see product, buy products, share and access pages via social media.

A love affair with Google

Thirdly, Google loves responsive websites. This was confirmed by Google’s Pierre Farr in June 2012. The reasoning is a bit technical (please ask your IT Department about preserving canonical URL’s, avoiding complicated re-directs and link equity).

The layman’s explanation is Google prefers responsive websites because it believes they offer the best user experience for its users (both the searcher and the social media enthusiast) and for Google a responsive site means one site, the same HTML and one set of URL’s to index across all devices. So you’ll be making life easier for the Google algorithm – always a good thing.

In our experience Google rewards retailers who have responsive websites with higher organic search positions (increasing the number of potential shoppers coming to your site) and a better quality score in AdWords (which reduces the amount you need to pay for clicks and means you get increased value from your AdWords budget).

Supporting facts and figures

According to research by IBM, whilst tablets drove sales, smartphones proved to be the most popular device for browsing and product research.

On Christmas Day 2013 traffic from mobile phones and tablets made up three quarters of total traffic, overtaking that from desktops by a considerable margin.

The same research suggested mobile influences over £18bn of in store sales. This is a very important point to take note of for furniture retailers.

And finally, for good measure a few snippets from the Office of National Statistics to further illustrate which way the wind is blowing:

  • In 2014, 38 million adults (76%) in Great Britain accessed the Internet every day, 21 million more than in 2006, when directly comparable records began.
  • Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2014, from 24% to 58%.
  • In 2014, 74% of all adults bought goods or services online, up from 53% in 2008.

In summary

Responsive websites make really good business sense. They are more efficient for your web team to promote and manage; they increase user engagement and online marketing effectiveness via social media. Responsive web design improves your natural search profile, reduces your bounce rates and increases online conversions. To cap it all Google will be very happy with you.