In the past year, responsive web design has become one of the most popular solutions for presenting websites on mobile devices, but is it the best solution for mobile commerce?
Responsive design is even recommended by Google as the optimal way to serve mobile users, but will it provide your mobile customers with the online shopping experience that maximizes mobile sales?
Let’s look at some potential advantages and disadvantages of responsive design for mobile commerce to help you make a more informed decision about whether responsive design is right or not for your online shop.
Advantage: If you are just now launching your online shop and take the mobile first approach with responsive design, you can tailor your website’s content and buying process from the very beginning to appeal to customers across all devices.
Disadvantage: If you already have an online shop, depending on its complexity, reconstructing your entire website to be responsive can be very expensive and time-consuming.
Search Engine Optimization
Advantage: Responsive design is recommended by Google because it allows you to use one url to offer your online shop to your customers on all devices. This makes it easier for mobile customers to interact with your online shop through links on other websites, and allows Google to crawl and index your pages much faster.
Disadvantage: If your smartphone and tablet customers are searching with different keywords than your desktop customers, responsive design prevents you from delivering the most relevant content for each device.
Advantage: If you have a small set of product categories and simple product detail pages, you can easily implement responsive design to smoothly display products to mobile customers. An example online retailer which fits this description is Kershaw Knives.
Disadvantage: What if you have a large variety of product categories and complex product detail pages? By offering the exact same product information across all devices, you might frustrate on-the-go mobile customers who want to find and buy something quickly. Additionally, if you like to highlight popular products in your online shop and you determine that what’s popular differs between desktop and mobile customers, responsive won’t allow you to showcase different products on each device. An example online retailer which fits this description and provides a separate mobile website is Amazon.
Advantage: If the payment checkout process of your online shop is already short and simple, you will have an easier time reconstructing a responsive version that mobile customers can navigate comfortably. For example, it would be easier to effectively go responsive with a single-page checkout process than a multi-page one.
Disadvantage: If your checkout is complex, reconstructing this process could easily be the most time-consuming and expensive part of going responsive. Furthermore, if offering your desktop checkout process to mobile customers does not reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase mobile sales, responsive is not the way to go.
The following flow chart presents a few key web design indicators to help you quickly determine if responsive design makes sense for your online shop.
Even though responsive design is currently the most popular solution for offering mobile websites and recommended by Google, you should base your final decision regarding mobile web design on user experience. Specifically, you should choose the m-commerce solution that will deliver the best mobile shopping experience to your customers and maximize sales. If you want to learn about how responsive design compares to having a separate mobile website for your online shop, check out the following m-commerce white paper covering this very topic.