Reconsidering the Value of Responsive Design

September 15, 2015

Responsive Web Design has seen tremendous growth in popularity and adoption among brands. Across industries, brands are challenged to meet and exceed mobile user expectations within existing internal resources and budget. In recent years, RWD has become increasingly attractive to brands because it is seen as an effective solution to ensure channel consistency.

While RWD is a very valid web design solution, it is one of many, and is not always the right choice for every brand. A key issue is site performance, which affects impatient mobile users even more than those on desktop.

Today’s mobile users expect to wait no longer than 3 seconds for a mobile page to load, yet the average Responsive site loads 6x more slowly. This challenge, among others, makes it crucial for brands to determine the best solution for mobile, taking expertise, business goals, budget and resources into account. Factors to consider when choosing a mobile solution include:
 

RWD Simplifies Channel Management, But May Limit the Customer Experience

RWD allows for single-code, simplified implementation and reduced site maintenance, while extending brands’ digital strategies onto mobile. Nonetheless, an RWD site limits brands’ abilities to create unique experiences for their mobile audience, and frequently results in a poorly performing site. Not effectively optimizing for mobile context is an inherent risk with RWD, as this can impact mobile conversion.
 

Adaptive Design Can Enhance RWD, But Requires Injecting Content Into Sites

While performance is a major challenge with RWD, Adaptive design seamlessly incorporates server-side content to enhance the experience and improve site speed. Adaptive design gives brands the flexibility to personalize the experience for more mobile users. Brands must weigh the benefits and costs of prioritizing factors like speed and personalization over effort and cost, and make a decision based on the needs of their customers.
 

M-Dot Sites Deliver Mobile Context, But Require A Dedicated Site

Dedicated mobile (m-dot) sites require brands to design and maintain separate sites for mobile and desktop. However, a brand with the resources to do so may benefit from the flexibility to make channel-specific enhancements and create experiences that are unique to mobile devices. While this solution offers the most user-centric experience, brands need to consider the expertise and resources needed to maintain the experience.


All web solutions come with their own challenges and benefits. The primary goal for brands should be to improve the experience for a growing mobile audience. For a comprehensive overview of RWD, a look at major challenges, and key considerations for web solutions, download our white paper

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