Brittney Sheffield / Mobile / September 5th, 2014

2 Things You Need to Do Before Building a Responsive Website

so-hot-right-nowResponsive websites and mobile development are super hot right now, and for good reason. Many users are mobile and sites are viewed on many platforms, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your business needs to invest in a mobile site.

It’s all a question of priorities.

While there has been a serious uptick in mobile device usage, your decision to go responsive should be a calculated one. You’ve got oodles of behavioral data at your fingertips, so there is no excuse for spending the time or money to build a responsive site if it won’t truly benefit your users. These two things are only the start of your decision to go responsive, but fully answering these questions can guide you down the proper development path.

Consider Mobile Usage on Your Current Site

Google Analytics can be a huge help on this front. Within Analytics, look at your Audience behavior and determine how much of your traffic during the last six or 12 months has come from a mobile or tablet device. It’s dangerous to say you need to be responsive if a certain percentage of your traffic comes from mobile, so I won’t throw out any concrete numbers here. Instead, what you should consider is: of that mobile traffic, where do people go on your website and how much time do they spend there?

Mobile Analytics

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are my most-trafficked pages among mobile users?
  • Does it seem like we’re losing traffic due to poor mobile or tablet experience?
  • Where did these users come from?
  • Do my mobile users convert?

By asking these questions and thinking about the users’ experience, you can make an educated decision about mobile development. Maybe you only need to have a few pages visible for mobile users. Maybe mobile users are driven primarily through social to blog content, perhaps only your blog needs to be mobile friendly. Or maybe users are seriously under-served without a mobile-friendly experience for all of your content.

Talk to Your Customers

We’re huge proponents of usertesting.com, but this is an instance where you should seek out a few of your actual customers to understand their experience making a purchase on your site or using your site to inform a purchasing decision. If you don’t have an eCommerce site, substitute “purchase” with conversion, contact form submission, etc. Having a face-to-face conversation with your customers to gain insight into their device usage on your site, the information they needed to make decisions, or what they avoided can help you immensely when prioritizing the need for a responsive website.

Ask your customers these questions:

  • What type of device do you use to browse our site?
  • Does your screen size limit the content you choose to view on our site?
  • How does our current mobile or tablet experience impact your decision to do business with us?

With a little bit of research you give yourself a better chance of uncovering pain points that you didn’t even know existed for your users, but you can also ensure that your development dollars are laser focused on what’s most important and what can wait for later iteration.

How-Effective-is-Your-Digital-Marketing

 

Image Credit: Walker NelsonCC 

  • Paul Traylor

    I heart Marketing. It’s easy to forget that prioritizing a budget can mean iterating to maximize user experience for YOUR users, instead of ALL users. Although in a perfect situation all users (regardless of device) would be ensured a great experience, focusing development on improvements based on your current user base can be the right first step and thanks to analytics and the gurus who can efficiently decode them we don’t have to guess anymore, YAY!

    • Brittney Sheffield

      Prioritization is definitely key. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paul!

      PS I heart Data.

  • http://352inc.com/ James Hall

    I love that the first question is “Do we really need mobile everywhere?”. Too often sites jump to responsive design when their offerings don’t really need it.