Blog | Website Wizardry

Mobile Responsive Design: Is It Worth It?

10/02/2015

The advent of mobile technology and its integration with online browsing has been a slow rumble for many years but now the pace has quickened and websites are clamouring for a piece of the mobile pie.

Many businesses and individuals have perfectly functional websites up and running, but now they’re thinking that it is time to embrace mobile users with an adapted mobile responsive design. But is it worth the effort?

In a word: Yes!

As research shows, more and more people are browsing the web via their smartphones and tablets than ever before.

However, that’s not to say that every website on the net should suddenly drop everything and rush to create a responsive design. It takes careful planning and prep to get the job done right. Mess this up and you’ll drive traffic away from both your desktop website and your new mobile one as well!

Trust

As Kelly Murphy’s article on mobile responsive web design explains, responsive design is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution;

Quote
So you might be asking yourself, if the majority of my users only browse on mobile sites and then make their purchase on a desktop, why bother to optimise with a mobile responsive design? The answer is all about trust.

We should always keep in mind that not everyone who visits your website is an industry peer. Are you taking into consideration those users who are only interested in what they see in front of them, not what’s going on behind the scenes? Having a secure site gives trust to your users, but it is not about SSL certificates, HTTPS or padlocks to the average web surfer – they will judge a site to be secure by the way it responds.

General opinion around the Spiral Media office is that creating a mobile responsive design is worth every effort (all except one who apparently likes pinching and zooming…) As we are ‘in the industry’, for us it is a pretty much a landslide vote ‘yes’ for mobile responsive.

Planning

Not everyone is singing the praises of mobile responsive design. David Wells posted this article on Inbound.com venting his frustrations at the rash of mobile responsive designs that he felt were unnecessary and counter-productive.

Streamlining your website to suit mobile is a good idea but stripping it down to the bare parts is not the way to do it. If your users needed the left-side navigation pane on the full-screen version then they will need it for the mobile version as well. But in your hurry to make your mobile site super responsive, you’ve hidden the navigation pane.

Big mistake – now your customer is gone.

And this doesn’t just apply to ecommerce sites with products and shopping baskets.

Cracked.com has a similar issue when you move from full-screen to tablet or phone screen. Below is the full screen view;

Cracked
And this is the mobile version as seen on Android;

Cracked Mobile
The search option vanishes!

Understandably the mobile navigation pane has to be reduced in order to fit properly and they have been neatly tucked into the drop down on the right. But the search option has gone completely. Considering Cracked.com is a site packed full of articles on hundreds of topics, the search option is essential.

You do get the option to switch to the desktop version or download the Cracked app, but surely this negates the point of having a mobile responsive site in the first place?

Another important thing to remember is that Google penalises those who direct mobile users to their desktop site no matter which version they landed on. Forcing your users to choose one or the other will not win you any friends so you must give them the option.

Execution

Is mobile responsive design worth undertaking? Yes, indeed it is! But, as with most things online, it’s not about ‘what’ you do that counts, it’s ‘how’ you do it that matters.

Don’t just follow the crowd and tick off boxes on your mobile responsive To-Do list – look at what will make your website responsive. Look at functionality and think about what your users will expect when they visit your mobile site. A bit of planning and forethought will save you a lot of stress and confusion further down the line.