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Using responsive web design to implement a mobile-first digital strategy

The number of people accessing the web on their mobile is growing daily. With 62% of all UK adults now using smartphones, there has never been a more critical time for businesses to put mobile at the forefront of their digital strategy.

Christina Winkless

Article by Christina Winkless

BLOG Using responsive design
  • Strategy
  • Mobile-first design

Mobile is becoming an increasingly powerful arena for businesses to build and strengthen customer relationships and many are already utilising responsive design to beat the competition and create brand experiences that customers expect and value.

Responsive web design in action

We recently worked on a mobile-first redesign of endsleigh.co.uk to utilise responsive web design as part of their digital strategy.

Endsleigh

Endsleigh has a predominantly young customer base with a large proportion of their traffic coming from smartphones, therefore it was essential to create a mobile-optimised website where customers could quickly and easily understand the product benefits and access their accounts on the move.

The result is a lightning-fast online experience that better reflects their customers’ expectations. Within 6 months of launching the site, Endsleigh experienced a 15% drop in call centre volume as a result of customers finding the information they needed online, and increases in conversion rates of up to 40%.

Becoming a mobile-first business

Responsive web design allows you to reach all of your audiences with a single website and CMS, giving your business full flexibility in a world of countless screen sizes. But the implementation of a mobile-optimised website should never be an afterthought, instead it should be an integral part of your digital strategy. The first step towards re-aligning your strategy is to start prioritising smartphone users. When choosing your approach, it’s important to base the decision on user expectations, business goals and technical considerations.

Choosing the right approach

How do you know whether to choose a responsive approach or develop separate sites for mobile and desktop screens? Both options have their own limitations, so when making a decision, it’s important to think carefully about how each will support your long term business goals and how each will impact the user experience of your site.

Ultimately the decision of which approach to take should be led by your user’s needs. Separate sites are a good choice when working with location based content or heavy functionality. Whereas responsive websites are built on a single code base and allow content to reposition and resize in real time. Mobile specific code however, can also be combined with a responsive code base to create the ultimate online experience for your customers. A good digital agency will be able to advise which approach is best for your business.

Key advantages of responsive design

Optimise and streamline content

When adopting a mobile-first content strategy it’s important to strip your content down to it’s most basic form. With your user needs and business goals in mind, we can begin to progressively enhance the content, design and functionality for larger screens, whilst using media queries to combat content overload on smaller devices.

Fluid grids allow content elements to scale based on percentages, maintaining visual proportions and content hierarchy for an optimised user experience on all devices. Media queries are used to load the correct image sizes for each device, keeping the load time to a minimum.

Improve the user experience (UX) to encourage engagement

The user experience of your site will improve when optimised for different viewing contexts. Users want a seamless, consistent experience online, especially on mobile. With this in mind, it’s important to create navigation systems that allow users to find what they need quickly and easily. Once users are familiar with a consistent and easy to use interface, conversion rates will begin to increase.

Expand your reach & improve visibility in search engines

The opportunity for businesses to seamlessly integrate sharing on mobile is massive with texts, image sharing and networking apps such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook at the fingertips of customers. The explosive growth in mobile usage, means businesses can dramatically expand the reach of their audiences by creating relevant and accessible content that people want to share. Google also loves mobile and tablet friendly websites and rewards them by generating better search results.

Save time and cost on maintenance and site management

Developing one set of code that can work across the whole site means you can get the results you need faster and more cost effectively than building multiple sites. A single CMS can then house the content of your site making content much easier to update and manage, saving you lots of time in the long run.

Doing things properly

Attention to detail is what turns the implementation of a digital strategy from ‘good’ to ‘great’. Responsive design is about much more than taking a desktop site and shrinking the layout down to work on a phone. Trying to do that inevitably results in a slow, poor quality user experience.

No mobile-first digital strategy can be successfully implemented without the user needs at the forefront of every decision. It’s important that the implementation is underpinned by a combination of insight, design and clever technology.

The end result is a beautiful, seamless experience and happier customers.

Christina Winkless

Christina Winkless