Since writing about our new Responsive Design offering for Yahoo! Store and Monster Commerce (Network Solutions) a few weeks ago, I’ve received several emails asking questions about what responsive design is all about.
Today, I’ll answer some of the most frequent ones:
Q: What exactly is responsive design?
A: Simply put, responsive design is a way to program a website or eCommerce store so that it provides the user with an optimum browsing experience on whatever device they are viewing the website on. In other words, the website “responds” to the window size of the computer, tablet or smartphone a web browser is viewing the site on.
Someone viewing your website on a computer will see the full site on their screen. Tablet users, depending on the size of their screen may see the full site, or a site sized down for their screen. Smartphone users will see a version of the site tailored to their phone and presented in a fashion that makes browsing and shopping simple and easy.
Only responsive designed websites provide tablet and mobile users with an experience tailored to their device.
To see how your current website looks to tablet and smartphone users, go to http://responsivedesignsimulator.com/ and type in your URL.
To see how a responsive website looks to those same users, type in this URL into the simulator: http://www.sc-responsive-plus.com/
Big difference right?
That’s why website and online store owners are moving to responsive design!
Q: Why do I need a responsive website?
A: More and more web searches and transactions are taking place on mobile devices than ever before, and that upward trend is going to continue. As we move into the busy holiday season, shoppers are going to be making purchases from their smartphones and tablets in record numbers. If your website isn’t providing them with an optimum browsing experience, they’re going to move on to a store that does.
There are other benefits of going responsive as well. Google has previously recommended that website owners take a serious look at adopting a responsive design and has recently taken a step at giving preference to responsive websites when displaying search results on mobile devices.
If you need further convincing, take a moment to look at your website’s stats in Google Analytics. Look at your mobile traffic numbers and conversion rates. In a random sampling of merchants I have access to, I’ve seen mobile traffic spike over the past year, but mobile conversions are nill. To me, that’s a good indication that people are viewing your non-responsive website on a mobile device and not completing a transaction because it’s just too difficult to do so. All that traffic is going to waste! Imagine the sales you could be losing. Better yet, imagine the sales you could be making if your site is mobile friendly.
Q: I already have a mobile website from (name deleted) and it’s located at (m.domain.com), can I cancel that if I decide to go with a responsive design?
A: Yes! If you adopt a responsive design for your site, you will no longer need to pay a third-party monthly hosting and revenue share fees for the mobile version of your website they are currently providing. Additionally, you will no longer need to update two separate websites!
Q: Will the process for updating my website change if I go with a responsive design?
A: No! You will update your site the same way you do now, nothing changes. There is only one site to update, unlike having a separate mobile site hosted by a third-party. Updating pages, adding products, changing banners, etc. is done the same way you currently do it.
Q: Can I have the same features I currently have on my store if I go with a responsive design?
A: It depends. 99% of the store features from Solid Cactus have been updated to be responsive compatible. There are some older, unsupported features that have been phased out over the years that have not been updated to work properly on responsive designed sites. If you have features on your site that you have purchased from other developers, we cannot guarantee that they will be responsive compatible.
However, don’t fret! When we provide you with a quote for responsive design, we will go over your entire website and let you know what current features are not responsive compatible and recommend options. We have run into very little compatibility issues so far, so this should not be a big concern.
Q: How long does it take to design a responsive store?
A: Programming takes longer than a traditional store and we have to factor in the amount of projects our designers and programmers are currently working on when coming up with a time estimate. However, it is safe to say that it normally takes six to eight weeks from design to programming to final publish.
Q: I got a quote for responsive design and traditional design and responsive was more. Why is that?
A: Building a responsive website is more labor intensive than building a non-responsive one. Building the framework and reinstalling new responsive versions of older store features takes additional time that has to be factored into the price. However, investing in a responsive website now rather than a traditional site will save you money in the long run. You may opt for a traditional site now and in a few months spend money again on a responsive site because your mobile traffic is forcing you in that direction.
If you’re currently paying a third-party for a mobile version of a site, you will no longer need that, so you can take the annual cost of having that site and any revenue share you pay and factor that expense reduction into your decision making process.
There you have it! Some of the most frequent questions I’ve received about responsive design. If I didn’t answer one you’ve been meaning to ask, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of our account managers at 1.888.361.9814 and they will be more than happy to help.
Scott Sanfilippo is co-founder of Solid Cactus and has been an eCommerce store owner since 1994. That makes him kinda old, but he knows his way around a Yahoo! Store, responsive or otherwise. Feel free to email him any questions you have about selling online or making the jump to responsive web design.