Responsive Web Design: is this the only way?

Benjamin CB

6/13/2019 3:00 PM

Responsive Design Analysis Development Device Data Opinion

Responsive Web Design has its uses, but it's not enough to meet ever-changing consumer expectations

Responsive Web Design does a fairly good job. But where it doesn't meet the mark is when you need to adapt content and navigation to suit the needs of users beyond pixels, or where analytics tools lack important data points.

A survey conducted in 2018 by DataIQ and Tealium focusing on GDPR showed a major difference between desktop and mobile when it comes to the task of collecting personal information and permissions. The graph below shows the percentage of companies using each touchpoint to collect this information.

Figure 1 Extract from Research Report - Tealium GDPR Impact Series 2018

Device Detection: Data Centred Journey Optimization

A device detection solution gives you access to real-time data usually only available to native apps, if at all. Data such as the physical screen size (which is far more relevant than number of pixels), the age, or price of the device.

How it works in action

Specialized Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

If you're responsible for your company's website performance and ensuring constant optimizations are being made, device detection is an essential tool.

It's likely that a high percentage of your users access your website from a mobile device. Therefore, ensuring that you're optimizing your website for the mobile customer is, for most companies, an imperative.

But if you're just relying on Responsive Web Design, you're relying on a one-size-fits-all solution. And mobile phones aren't one size.

Think of it like this, you have a key conversion point on your website, and you notice that the mobile conversion rate is 20% less than the desktop conversion rate, but mobile is where 60% of the traffic is coming from. Clearly, the mobile conversion rate needs to be improved.

Marks and Spencer, the UK retailer, provides a particularly good example. When entering text during the checkout process, the virtual keyboard on only some physical screen sizes obscures the fields making data entry and navigation harder, resulting in poor user experience. Considering the number of fields that need to be completed during the checkout process, and the inevitable errors associated with incorrect information being entered, the page performs poorly on some mobiles, but not all.

Figure 2 - Marks and Spencer checkout process shows virtual keyboard obscuring all fields and navigation

Analytics solutions like Google Analytics treat all mobiles the same, placing web sessions into buckets of Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile. The lowest level of granularity available is pixels. Your users don't think in pixels, which is why it's better to understand the device screen dimensions.

The Marks and Spencer's website would probably benefit from a different address entry and checkout process on sub 6” mobile screens. Responsive Web Design alone does not easily enable this and without device detection, Google Analytics won't expose the information needed to identify that there is a problem.

A device detection solution can give your existing analytics solution the information needed to focus your mobile optimization strategy and improve the conversion rate of those problem devices, without potentially harming the performance of others.

Lighter Page Weights and Reducing Load Times

Reducing page load times has long been accepted as an important part of any website optimization strategy, allowing you to reduce bounce rates and improve site conversion.

Optimizing site content to deliver lighter web page weights can be achieved with device detection. Rather than making the decision about which content to display, and how to display it, on mobile or desktop, the decision can be made within the Content Management Systems (CMS).

The approach is proven to improve engagement and is used by Google, eBay, and Facebook, among others. As a web user, you benefit from it every day. Why not deploy it to your business?

It's easy to implement with CMS platforms such as Sitecore. The technique formed the core of Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for publishers missing out on revenue because their pages weren't loading quickly enough. It seems surprising more web designers and developers are not embracing the benefits.

In summary, Responsive Web Design, while convenient, isn't enough to offer your users the smooth and tailored journeys they're looking for. Whether it's conversion rates or load times you're looking to improve, a device detection solution will give you the enhanced data you need to ensure your users' needs are being met.

To find out more, visit our device detection page.

51Degrees is the world's fastest and most accurate device detection solution for your website today, tomorrow and in the future. If you'd like to find out more please contact us and we'll be happy to discuss how we can help you maximise your business potential.

51Degrees enables you to detect 2,837,348 different device combinations, allowing you to optimize your website and increase revenue.