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BizReport : Internet : September 03, 2013

How responsive design is changing ecommerce

In the past it was enough for many brands to throw up an online shingle and watch the customers stream in. Today, the internet is a different place - shoppers want personalization along with product information and good prices.

by Kristina Knight

That is where responsive design comes in. I recently had the chance to chat with Monetate about responsive design and how it is changing ecommerce.

Kristina: What exactly is responsive design and how does it work?

Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Monetate Director of Corporate Communications: Responsive design involves dynamically altering a site's layout and presentation based on the user's device size and orientation. It allows your website to adapt to any screen size and orientation, providing a more consistent experience across devices.

Responsive Design is client-side, meaning the user's web browser changes how the page appears for a specific screen size rather than server-side detection and transcoding web pages on the fly. Responsive design is being used by leading brands across a wide variety of industries.

Kristina: What are the benefits of responsive design?

Marifran: Responsive design is easier to develop and maintain than multiple style sheets for various device forms, thus conserving internal resources. It enables you to shift your mindset from simply creating a new design to building relevant user experiences. It allows you to say goodbye to a third-party mobile web platform and no longer have to make updates to multiple websites.

In addition, you can rethink investments in a native app, which likely was developed because your mobile website didn't allow the user experience you desired in the first place. Specifically for ecommerce websites, consumers continue to prefer the mobile web over native apps when making purchases.

Responsive design also allows you to realize tremendous efficiencies in the integration of existing website optimization and testing platforms, allowing you to personalize based on mobile behavior rather than just mobile display.

Kristina: Are there limitations?

Marifran: In some instances, a case could be made for the effort and resources needed to maintain a distinct mobile site, rather than utilizing responsive design. For example, a separate site may be preferred if the desired goals for non-desktop users differ from those for the rest of the audience base.

Responsive design does not deliver identical content for all devices. Some web pages will have to sacrifice content and design elements to fit a smaller screen size, but this is all under the designer's control. Updates to design must be tested across form factors to ensure they work.

Responsive design is not necessarily future-proof. For example, a new class of HTTP clients might be introduced that disrupt this solution. It also requires a full content audit of your website and examination of any limitations with existing content management systems.

More from Monetate later in the week, including how brands can better implement responsive design.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: ecommerce, ecommerce website, Monetate, responsive design, website design

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