There are more than two billion desktop computers and more than seven billion mobile devices worldwide, according to Cnet. They may run on different platforms, have varying physical constraints and be formatted to the individual user’s preferences. A website’s ability to read and conform to the device’s configurations, called responsive design, is one of the primary requirements to offering customers a great purchasing experience.
Traditionally, web designers created sites with fixed dimensions, a static image and some text with a marketing message. There may also be a popup for subscription and some third-party advertising to help with site revenue. Responsive design differs from traditional design in that it acknowledges the wide variety of formats that the end-user may have. T-Mobile alone offers a few dozen different smartphones and mobile devices using either the iOS or Android platforms. Responsive designed websites understand the varying need of each device and read that information, changing the website to match the configuration. Images are “context-aware” so that they scale appropriately for the device and programming script uses CSS to facilitate quick communication and information upload.
User Defined Interactivity
Responsive design happens naturally, but a website that is committed to positive customer experience allows the user to view the site under multiple mechanisms. Though responsive design is preferred for reading comprehension, the use of magnifiers has its perks, especially for users that have difficulty with seeing the smaller screen of a smartphone. Magnifiers let the user zoom into text and images, but they generally require a significant amount of scrolling. The sharp eyes of the millennial generation enjoy the benefits of responsive design and the older users often need the magnifier. A smart designer should offer both to increase customer experience.
Monetizing the Site
Today, most established websites have advertisements on them. For non-retail websites, like blogs or instructional videos, this is a good way to generate revenue and defer management costs. Traditionally, designers would create different websites for each platform. There would be a site for desktop users and another for mobile users. This has the disadvantage of splitting the search engine optimization (SEO), lowering site ranks and searchability. In the site monetization game, Google rank leads to clicks and clicks mean money. Having one domain gives the SEO benefit of increased traffic. Social media tie-in, like linking to Facebook and Pinterest, also should not be split over multiple sites. When that happens, the site owner loses a valuable opportunity for customer interaction.
Limitation of Responsiveness
It is easy for a designer to get lost in creating a responsive design at the cost of the marketing message. Websites are part of a multi-channel, interactive network of conversations that include social media, email and text. To make sure that this does not happen, designers should use a usability scale in order to maintain focus on the customer experience. A good website can only be called responsive if it responds to the customer’s need.
All marketing requires feedback and web design is not an exception to the rule. The most forward way to gain insight into a customer’s opinion on the site design is to ask. Use simple surveys to gain customer feedback. Google Analytics is a good way to garner user activity information without having to directly infringe on consumers’ time. Whatever method designers use, they always should remember to have a measurable and informative feedback mechanism.