Responsive design, for those who don’t know what it means, is a single website layout which automatically adapts (grows, shrinks, changes size) to suit the device viewing it. This means that one website can cater for those on large desktops all the way down to smaller smartphones.
It sounds brilliant in principle: one design which works for mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop. However, in practice, it is not smart mobile marketing as it fails to deliver in these ways.
Just because it is considered better than nothing, it is not necessarily the best means of generating business out of mobile visitors. Being able to see the full content in a smartphone, for example, does not guarantee that the layout works in terms of conversion rates, or web forms suddenly become easier to use.
Worse, modern conversion ‘gold’ like Click to Call on mobile sites is not an option on most responsive designs. There is a strong case for suggesting that a familiar desktop site is better in a small screen than a half baked mobile one.
The most effective mobile sites behave like apps, offering the user large buttons, minimal text, more guided search and navigation, shorter forms, more phone call prompts and less overall choice in content.
A responsive design doesn’t really improve in these areas, it just makes sure ‘it ain’t broke’ (as far as possible). Which is sounds more like ‘damage limitation’ than a successful stratagem.
Just because your current website performs, it doesn’t mean that your mobile site will. Mobile users are, in many ways, unforgiving and demanding. Attention spans are brief, and they won’t appreciate ancillary content, clunky navigation or extraneous information. They are purpose-driven and if your mobile site doesn’t meet that purpose or need, they will exit. Even if it looks tidy.
In our experience, responsive websites give worse performance for mobile visitors than a the normal website, whereas businesses with bespoke mobile sites achieve much better performance.
To adapt to a responsive design means changing both ends – your website, and your mobile site – to ensure that your site works across both.
The result of this is that the same content, options, user experience and everything else cannot be fully optimised for both mobile and desktop visitors. It will be a compromise at best and, at worst, a straightjacket where you cannot really change, improve or adapt anything.
Google now looks at every website to see whether it has provided for Mobile Devices. This already affects your search rankings.
Trouble is, a Responsive Site looks like a normal website and therefore is often missed by Google when it indexes a site, giving the impression that the domain is not optimised for mobile devices. Whereas a dedicated mobile site is spotted by Google and therefore the SEO (and particularly Mobile SEO) rankings are then applied.
Of course, we’d argue that Google has this exactly right – a responsive website is NOT optimised for mobile.
It’s clear to us that Responsive Design is much more of a Placebo than a Panacea.
Businesses who use it think they are providing the best possible environment for both mobile and ‘normal’ web users, but they won’t see much reward for their endeavours as in the end all users will have a mediocre experience.
Driving traffic with no clear understanding of revenues or profitability
Intent led, tracked and accounted for profitable marketing spend
An unsteady flow of low-quality enquiries yielding little business
Motivated enquiries, in the buying cycle, who fit your ideal target market
Business critical tasks relying on staff time, subject to user error
Make processes more efficient, thorough, predictable and measurable
I spend most of my development budget fixing errors and bugs
Fast and reliable cash-generative e-commerce and lead generation websites
My organic traffic is not translating to the bottom line
Rankings with purpose, targeting your converting keywords
Dated branding which doesn’t match the quality of your business
Modern, digital, flexible brand, guidelines, messaging and identity
Low resolution homebrew quality with little impact
Short, sharp videos designed specifically for the right media channel
Marketing visuals that fail to engage your audiences
Smart, precise imagery demonstrating design with purpose
Lack of regular contact with previous customers and clients
A clearly segmented customer base with fine-tuned strategies for repeat business
I have analytics, but it doesn’t help with our decision-making
A connected analytics layer providing confidence in tactical and strategic marketing work
Vaguely written aggregated words with little meaning
Refined, considered and targeted persuasive copy with calls to action
Finding it a challenge to come up with quality ideas and engagement
Well-considered, precise, relatable and polished content
Occasional ad-hoc generic email communications
Focused varied marketing content, adapted to suit customer profiles
A store where most of your budget fixing bugs and maintaining
A store where the stock, turnover, margins and yield dwarfs the marketing spend
Leads and customers are mainly in spreadsheets and inboxes
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