Is Responsive Design The Future of Cross Touchpoint Web Development?

If you’ve been chatting with your web development team recently, you might recall them talking about responsive design. But, what is responsive design and why should eBusiness professionals be taking it seriously?

First, responsive design is not a technology, it’s a development philosophy - an approach to web development that forces user experience developers to design and optimize from the outset for multiple touchpoints including (but not limited to) the desktop, tablets and mobiles. Until now, many eBusiness teams have either developed their mobile site by coding a separate set of templates, or outsourcing to a 3rd party vendor or agency whom in many cases scrapes or proxies existing content from the desktop site. As many retailers and other eBusiness teams start to develop optimized tablet sites, there is a distinct concern that supporting 3 different sites for desktop, tablets and mobile is becoming increasingly expensive and is causing a drag on innovation momentum.

With a responsive site, developers use a single set of front-end code to build a site that responds within the constraints of the device to deliver an experience that is contextual to the size and orientation of the screen. Responsive design allows eBusiness leaders to consolidate their teams (UX designers and developers) back into a single ‘web’ team aligned around a single technology (CSS3 & HTML5) and writing a single set of code. Some eBusiness leaders are referring to this consolidation as back to “one-web” and are increasingly intrigued by the potential cost and efficiency benefits that moving to a responsive site has to offer.

There are many examples of responsive sites from the Boston Globe, Starbucks and Sony, but a great example of a responsive eCommerce site can be seen from the custom online menswear site Indochino.

Indochino Responsive Site

At Indochino, the user experience and development teams recently re-built their web-site in just 2 months using responsive design principles and subsequently their site now supports an optimized user experience across a range of different touchpoints from a single front-end code base. If you're new to responsive design, I recommend looking at this site on a few different devices or re-size your desktop web browser to see how the site dynamically adjusts as you shrink the browser size.

In my new report, Understanding Responsive Design, I take a detailed look at the benefits and potential pitfalls of adopting responsive design. I encourage you download and read the report and I’d be happy to discuss this topic with any eBusiness teams that are considering building or already developing a responsive eCommerce site.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend taking your web development and UX team leads out for lunch and get their thoughts on what responsive design might mean for your organization. 

Comments

Indochino

You're right. Indochino is an excellent example of a responsive site. Do you know who built it? I'd like to contact them.
Thanks
heather

It was developed in-house by

It was developed in-house by their existing UX and web development team.

Responsive Web Design is Future for Mobile Revolution

Due to increasing reach of small screen devices responsive web designing is going to become future of web development for sure, until unless something out of box solution arrives on web arena.

Responsive site - page weight for mobile

What do people think about the page weight of responsive sites for mobile. The Indochino home page is 2.5mb (big for desktop), the experience wouldn't be much fun on a mobile data connection and could therefore cost you sales. A responsive site from wide screen to tablet makes a lot of sense because its generally over wi-fi.

Agree.... 3 years ago, people

Agree.... 3 years ago, people wanted nothing but answers, but today, people are using mobile/tablet devices as their PRIMARY device. Look at the newest statistics. By 2013, mobile browsing will surpass desktop browsing, and over 50% of people will use mobile devices as their primary browsing device. Looking forward, the number and percentage of people that use mobile as their primary (or even their only) means of web browsing will do nothing but increase. Responsive design puts you ahead of that curve now, rather than being reactionary later.

On page size

Great observation Keith. I completely agree that page size is a big concern for responsive design. Most responsive sites showcased as good examples suffer from this problem. Responsive does not allow for selective resource loading (scripts, images). There's also challenges around information architecture -- responsive only lets you change the CSS, so, show/hide elements and a limited ability to move them around using hard to maintain relative positioning tricks. You'll notice when you visit responsive sites that many sites have had difficulty with getting the 'Add to cart' button above the fold on PDP pages, or have had other layout optimization challenges that will impact customer conversion.

Mobify's platform pairs with responsive to address a lot of these challenges -- 1) you can make any site responsive by adding a single tag, no need to rebuild from scratch 2) Mobify lets you select only assets needed for the site, essentially allowing the developer to whitelist only what is needed 3) Mobify provides complete control to manipulate the document including inserting, removing and repositioning elements in the DOM 4) Assets that are required for the site (images, scripts) can be optionally run through a cloud based optimization.

Best,

Peter

(I'm the chief architect at Mobify)

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