Responsive vs Non responsive website

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Hello everyone,

long time lurker, first time poster here.

I'm wondering if you could help me with something..

My question is, does it benefit an e-commerce site to be responsive nowadays?

I ask this question because today we had an expert come in and assess our business/ website. I agreed with him on everything apart from one point, that being that we need our site to be responsive.

My thoughts on the subject is that responsive themes are somewhat of an unnecessary gimmick, tacked on by developers as an extra selling point. Sure, they had there time when mobiles couldn't handle the full web experience, but that isn't the case any more.

I much prefer the full web experience when I'm on my phone, nothing infuriates me more than a site forcing their crappy mobile equivalent on me (I'm looking at you eBay).

But, that's just me. Am I missing the point here? Can anybody enlighten me?
#responsive #website
  • Profile picture of the author byalik
    I'm going to agree with your expert. A website needs to be optimized for the mobile experience. Having a mobile site, whether you have a completely different mobile site or using a responsive theme is extremely important for your business. Not only is it much better for SEO, it can increase your conversions. 2014 is the year where mobile completely takes over and if you're site isn't ready, you're going to lose out to your competitors.
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    • Profile picture of the author iusedtoberubbish
      Thanks for your reply.

      I completely agree. I should have added that the site is fully functional on mobiles, it looks and works exactly the same as it does on a PC.

      And that's where I'm having an issue justifying the need for a responsive theme.

      So I suppose the question I'm actually asking is, what's better for mobile, a responsive site or an unresponsive full website that looks and functions exactly as it does on a PC?
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    • Profile picture of the author amcg
      The Steve Jobs quote applies here, something like "PC's are the trucks" e.g a limited but important role in how you access information. The vast majority of folks accessing content on the Internet will be using mobile devices, so you got to be there.
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  • Profile picture of the author byalik
    You are missing the point. Just because it's fully functional on mobile doesn't mean its optimized for mobile. Those are two different things. A responsive site is built in a way that makes it mobile optimized whereas just having a regular site load on mobile is not optimal for the mobile experience.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi iusedtoberubbish,

      byalik nailed it!

      After reading your post I got the impression that you think a responsive website is the same as a dedicated mobile website, or a smart phone app. Those are totally different design concepts, and not at all what Responsive Design is all about.

      With Responsive Web Design you do not have a different website, it is one website, the exact same website for desktops, tablets, and smart phones, with the same content, just a fluid layout that adapts to the screen portal size and orientation. Responsive Design principles adapt the website layout so that navigation, column widths, and images all display without the need for zooming, horizontal scrolling, or awkward navigation.

      In some case the navigation may be placed in a different location. For example, placed near the bottom right side of the screen for ease of use by thumbs on a hand held device, but placed in the tradition top left area for desktop users who generally use a mouse.

      It's all about recognizing the user's environment and adapting the web interface for a great user experience. This approach tends to improve conversion rates when applied properly. It's not just a gimmick, the difference in results is measurable and significant.
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  • Profile picture of the author p4laddi
    Originally Posted by iusedtoberubbish View Post

    long time lurker, first time poster here.
    Thats me also

    As for the ecommerce site having a responsive theme can help with a number of factors and I believe google mentioned in one of their WMT vidoes that a resonsive theme is an seo plus factor.

    Basically resonsive means responds to the browser (size / layout etc) being used giving a better user experience (apparently).
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    • Profile picture of the author repricerexpress
      If you don't have a dedicated budget for doing a separate mobile site then using a responsive theme for your website is definitely going to give your mobile users a better experience than zooming in and out of a full site.
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  • Profile picture of the author phptechie
    As mentioned by other fellow warriors here in this thread , I would strongly advise you to have a responsive theme installed for your website or make your site mobile responsive by customizing the theme. These days most of the sites are accessed equally in mobile phones as it was done by PCs & latops , so its becoming mandatory for a website to be mobile friendly.
    Now-a-days professional freelance developers like us , do include responsive design as part of the project & quote them a fair price based on the complexity of the design & the project.
    There is no such comparison between e-commerce & non e-commerce site in terms of mobile responsiveness , make your sites responsive & you will find the difference in the traffic , time sent & other analytics.

    So in simple , go for mobile responsive design if its fairly priced .

    Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ayodejiaa
    Ah, I usedtoberubbish. They have nailed it! I can imagine your non committal to changing what already works perfect! But really, a different mobile experience makes your audience love you more even if it is not perceptible at first! If you are using WordPress, there are a ton of themes that already give you responsivity out of the box, and i just recently found a wordpress plugin that does the job awesomely! its called WPtouch Mobile Plugin, Enjoy
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    • Responsive website loads faster eliminating other unecessary site features that are irrelevant and can increase load time on mobile. The overall idea is to get your customers to buy and good content can do that.
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      • Profile picture of the author mfarg
        Plain and simple, if your site has a significant volume of mobile visitors (and most sites do) it needs to be responsive. Yes, mobile devices are improving greatly, and screens are getting bigger, but there's still a large gap between mobile and laptops or desktops with a stable internet connection. If your site isn't responsive, you are losing customers to sites that are. Ebay and amazon will happily take up the slack for vendors who refuse to change their sites.

        These days it's all about providing the best customer experience. A non-responsive site on a 4G phone or tablet just isn't a good customer experience. Listen to your expert!
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr Bill
    The problem with most mobilised eCommerce sites is they suck. Encouraging sales into ecommerce from a mobile user is difficult. The site has to be "thumb friendly", easy and natural to use. Not an easy thing to do. www.dicksmith.com.au (an "Australian" electronics store) is an example of a commercial mobile site that works and looks like it should on my iPhone. It's all about thumbs and is easy and intuitive to navigate.
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  • Profile picture of the author Solid Commerce
    Tons of great information on this thread. Everybody's right.

    Responsive web pages are a MUST...especially in eCommerce, and especially now. A lot of industry thought leaders are predicting that 2014 is the year of mobile commerce.

    And the key to mobile responsive design? Making sure that you DON'T leave anything out when you transfer from the desktop design to the mobile version of your site.

    Hope this helps! Remember, when you're coming up with your mobile version...clean lines! Skeuomorphism is dead.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lizzi
    I can't stand responsive websites. I prefer to see the full website as you would on a pc.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
    Funny the majority say use responsive but most corporate ecommerce sites don't use responsive design but instead go for RESS/Adaptive or mobile optimized layouts pulling data from the same date feed instead...

    Walmart
    Bestbuy
    Target
    Adidas
    American Airlines
    Expedia
    Hotels
    eBay
    Apple
    Staples
    Officedepot
    Officemax
    Sears

    To name just a few...

    Guess they must be all using the wrong approach!

    Fact the only major retail corp that i know of that uses responsive is Starbucks, they do a relatively good job but i still believe there is room for improvement.

    There's more to mobile than just responsive design... responsive is certainly cheaper and easier to deploy with a ready made template or solution but its not the true silver bullet that people make it out to be...

    Ask yourselves why the above companies don't use responsive... it's certainly not because they cant afford to implement a responsive design, but i wager my money its primarily due to the end user experience.

    Even Google doesn't use a responsive design for their main Google search page but also go with RESS - web pages dont really get much simpler than Google's home page so why not don't they use a responsive? End user experience perhaps?

    End of the day use what you think is the best approach for you and your client - but do it with an educated conclusion based on an understanding that other solutions do exist out there and that you are fully knowledgeable of the pros and cons of all.
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    • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
      I can tell you why those large companies don't use responsive site,s legacy costs and integration. eBay has a huge investment in a custom e-commerce platform that is never easy to "just turn response on" as it is for newer e-commerce sites and established platforms. Part of it is the legacy e-commerce platforms they are using don't support mobile real well. Netsuite is an example of this. Part of it is having a large budget to program specific user experiences that most small stores and entrepreneurs don't have. Part of it such good name recognition, SEO is less an issue for them than it is for smaller companies.

      The Dicksmith site is a good example of a mobile CSS that most carts we would be using provide out of the box. This includes shopify, big commerce, americommerce and 3dcart. But even these guys are slowly rolling out responsive themes for their customers to use. And there is nothing wrong with them and in some cases might be preferable but I think you are going to see in the long run, sites running to responsive to maintain branding and functionality.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
        Originally Posted by OnlineStoreHelp View Post

        I can tell you why those large companies don't use responsive site,s legacy costs and integration. eBay has a huge investment in a custom e-commerce platform that is never easy to "just turn response on" as it is for newer e-commerce sites and established platforms. Part of it is the legacy e-commerce platforms they are using don't support mobile real well. Netsuite is an example of this. Part of it is having a large budget to program specific user experiences that most small stores and entrepreneurs don't have. Part of it such good name recognition, SEO is less an issue for them than it is for smaller companies.

        The Dicksmith site is a good example of a mobile CSS that most carts we would be using provide out of the box. This includes shopify, big commerce, americommerce and 3dcart. But even these guys are slowly rolling out responsive themes for their customers to use. And there is nothing wrong with them and in some cases might be preferable but I think you are going to see in the long run, sites running to responsive to maintain branding and functionality.
        We can agree to disagree - I admit part of the issue could come from legacy issues but i still maintain the end user experience is far superior with an RESS/Adaptive approach.

        As far as mobile SEO goes Google is constantly contradicting themselves depending which hat they are wearing - its almost laughable!

        User experience for me plays a super important role...

        Bad user experience = Increase Bounce rate/Increase Abandoned shopping carts = Less customers = Less profits

        End of the day responsive will be more dominant for the average web developer to deploy as they have no other readily available or affordable solution and probably dont even know what RESS is...

        Just because a responsive approach is most widely used solution doesn't mean to say its necessarily the best option for mobile... but everyone to their own

        Don't get me wrong i will use a responsive approach all day long but only for desktop and tablet users - then for mobile users i would go with RESS.

        Until i can develop an RESS solution or one becomes available it leaves people like myself with very few options but to go with responsive regardless if you like it or not
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      • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
        Originally Posted by OnlineStoreHelp View Post

        The Dicksmith site is a good example of a mobile CSS that most carts we would be using provide out of the box.
        Kudos to them! The Dicksmith site is actually using an RESS approach and is not responsive or using media queries to serve different mobile css like you suggested - since they are using RESS what it does is change the complete HTML structure based on the user agent type while still serving the content on the same url for a better end user mobile experience.

        Hope that clarifies/helps
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  • Profile picture of the author Etoot
    Hi,
    Always install responsive design, because it automatically adapts to all screen sizes. Either it is desktop, laptop, notebook or smartphones.
    Hope you find the answer helpful!

    Thanks,
    Regards
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  • Profile picture of the author JenChan
    We are already in the mobile era where people shop through there mobile phones.

    But i don't totally agree with this one... There's a gray area in this matter....
    That really depend on what kind goods you are selling.....

    If i were to buy through my mobile or ipad, i only buy goods which are 10 dollar below... I feel i have less risk... I am not confident using mobile because I can't type properly and some site does not provide all information when site is in mobile mode.

    If I am buying a phone through ebay or a macbook online, I would do it on my computer.

    But I recommend to use a responsive or bootstrap template to be on the trend incase you change your mind later. But the mobile adaption is always optional and template companies provide an option to disable it and use the default website view.
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  • Profile picture of the author malia
    Here's my two cents:

    At a MINIMUM your site needs to be mobile responsive. It impacts user experience and also your organic search position within google.

    I'm on the fence about the RESS. Jay, i agree with you wholeheartedly. However, large companies' mobile sales volume is significant, thus they can devote resources to mobile optimization. When I have gone to an adaptive small business mobile site, or even a mobile version, it was just a horrible experience to the point I would switch back to the dekstop version (if they offered the choice) even if I was on my phone. Some of the bad experiences I had were:

    bad layout
    poor/missng menu options
    ugly
    missing features

    The biggest problem- a mobile redirect from a specific page in the organic search to another page (or worse, the main page) when landing on the site.

    The adaptive approach works well for large sites because we likely stored all our details while we had a full keyboard and don't have to fumble typing on a phone, so it shows much better results when you're looking at a large company's decision making process.

    When you're smaller and you don't have enough mobile revenue to justify the development, then you have to go to the less expensive option-- responsive-- and make sure your phone numbers are easy to find and click.
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  • Profile picture of the author tonydbaker
    You can increase sales 15 to 30% just by making sure that the mobile experience is absolutely amazing.
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