Your Responsive Design Isn’t Responding

This post hurts. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been stood on a stage and in customer meetings and said, “responsive design is the best way to go.” Well, live and learn I guess.

Responsive design was the best solution, back in the not so distant past of 2-3 years ago, when we thought mobile behaviour would just be a replica of desktop. Online was online right? Well, turns out it wasn’t. And isn’t.

The most common complaint heard these days is that mobile doesn’t convert (someone quite rightly also mentioned this in relation to my post about why Mobile First is Wrong). The same people will more or less accept the fact that mobile plays a role in the research phase, but people then move to a larger screen and keyboard to buy.

And yet those same people build responsive websites!

Problem? Responsive means adapting the same content, roughly, to a screen size. But this is despite explicitly accepting the fact that behaviour is different. So why show the same content? Doesn’t make much sense.

So what to do instead?

If I walk into a store I generally expect someone to come up to me and say, “can I help you?” I then tell them how they can and they respond. If I want to buy something, they should make that easy. If I just want to browse, they should make that easy. Until I do or don’t decide to buy. Then they should make that easy. Are you currently doing this for your customers?

If you can see they are researching on mobiles, then give them research-related content. Obviously you shouldn’t remove the buy button completely or make it impossible to buy, but if you know that odds are stacked against them making a purchase, then use the precious little screen real estate on something more valuable.

And now you can start to go nuts, because you have what that shop assistant doesn’t have. Access to lots of data. If you know what the majority of your customers are doing at a certain time, on a certain screen, then you can pre-empt that and increase your odds! One behaviour in the sun, a different in the rain? Not a bother. Buy on mobiles on Sunday mornings, research on desktop on Mondays? Right there with you. And so on.

That is responding to me, rather than to whichever device I find it relevant to use. Feel free to still call it responsive (I won’t bore you with another discourse on sematics), just think about what you’re responding to.

And I haven’t even gotten into attribution-y type talks yet!