No excuse for a non responsive website

February 2014

Chances are that you’ll already know exactly what a ‘responsive’ website is. But just in case you don’t and anyway for absolute clarity, a responsive website is one which responds to the device it’s being opened on and resizes and reformats content so it’s easily readable and functionality remains easy. If that still isn’t quite clear, then open up my website on your smart phone now (assuming you’re not currently looking at it on your smart phone of course…) and you’ll get the principle in an instant.

Right now and indeed since the explosion in mobile internet use (so tablets and smart phones), having a responsive website has become essential because without one you’ll have all of these negative issues compared to PC and laptop:

  • Higher bounce rate
  • Lower average time on site
  • Fewer page views

And if you don’t yet have a responsive website and you’re sceptical about the value of having one, then after you’ve finished reading this blog get onto your Google Analytics page and check the metrics for the above yourself (and if you don’t even have Google Analytics set up then you really are in trouble). The simple fact is that modern day folk aren’t terribly tolerant of a bad website experience (and why should they be) and if your site isn’t a joy to use on their iPhone then they won’t hang about in the hope it will get better. And for a sense of scale, worth considering that around 40% of all online searches are now conducted from mobile devices.

Like a whole load of things which happen in our fast moving digital world, folk in business can get left behind. And this is what’s happened with responsive websites, though I certainly had more sympathy with those that didn’t have one this time last year than I do now. That view is largely driven by the fact that a) mobile internet use has represented something of a revolution in the last few years – like it’s hardly still big business news right now – b) if you haven’t tried your non-responsive site on a mobile and seen how hopeless it is then, frankly, what on earth are you doing, and c) having a non-responsive website is about as un-customer focused as you can get. Why the latter? Because a non-responsive website opened up on a smart phone is about as helpful as a call centre employee in Birmingham with an attitude problem on a Monday morning who also has a hangover.

So why hasn’t every business got one? I think there are principally four reasons:

1. Digital suppliers who are out of touch

I recently carried out a government-funded project to help an SME develop their business, and on discovering their website wasn’t responsive asked the supplier responsible for it if he could give me a quote for updating it to responsive. This was his reply “Actually the site is responsive – it is built using a WordPress template that resizes (reduces down) automatically to whether you view using a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone – it was designed specifically with this in mind.” What he meant of course was that the site appears in miniature on a smart phone – the exact opposite of a responsive website! So it wasn’t ‘responding’ at all, but simply appearing on a smart phone in the same way it would desktop. I politely educated him on what a responsive website actually is, but was simply staggered that he didn’t already know and, worst still, thought it was the very opposite to what it actually is.

This is an extreme example, though I also had a recent example of a web developer telling one of my long-standing clients to ‘design a new website for desktop and then he’d make it work for mobile’. This approach is the exact opposite to the current accepted best practice, and largely because if you can make something work – so visually and functionally – on a small screen then it’s relatively easy to scale up. But try doing it the other way around and, well, it’s a nightmare.

2. Employees who are out of touch

Either as an IT function or a marketing one (and often, and increasingly, with massive overlap) employees have a clear responsibility to their employer to stay on the ball. No doubt the majority do, but I have two clients where I know this not to be the case. How do I know? Because when I started banging on about the importance of making their websites responsive back early last year, it was news to my client in both cases. And in one case the Google Analytics metrics the employee was responsible for reporting entirely showed worrying mobile figures – e.g. relatively high usage, high bounce rate and low site engagement. Problem was that this only came to light when I asked to see a fuller Analytics report – the employee hadn’t been reporting on mobile…

3. Cost

In particular if the website is large and complex and also dependant on how it was built in the first place, then the cost of conversion can be considerable. And in many cases, and probably the majority, starting off with a completely new design is the only way to go because of the fundamental issue I’ve highlighted above about it being far easier to scale up from a mobile design to scaling down from a desktop design.

4. In denial

Business owners that are in denial over the importance of responsive are, in my experience, also in denial about a host of other digital marketing necessities. Such people will only end up in one place – out of business.

So then, if your website isn’t yet responsive then don’t waste another moment. And if you don’t know where to start then contact me and I’ll happily write your website provider a comprehensive brief.

Contact us now to find out more about how we could help and support your business.

T: 01463 871988

or complete this form and we will be in contact very soon