Responsive Design Part 2: Why It Matters

If you discovered part one of this series through our Noble Newsletter, there is a 50% chance you accessed the email from your mobile phone.[1] If you are reading part two on your mobile device, you are just one of many that will push the number of mobile-connected devices higher than the world’s population in 2014.[2] Take a second to take into account all of the different people and devices – mobile phones, tablets, and computers – that may be accessing your website. It’s overwhelming.

Let’s not forget additional devices companies could incorporate Internet access into in the future. Do Model S, Google Glass, and Pebble Smartwatch ring a bell? Travel just 10 years back in time and your former self would laugh and say these devices only exist in a futuristic Tom Cruise movie.

The reality is we are more connected than ever, and the ability to quickly search and access information on the go has become the expectation. Responsive design and development are more than popular catch phrases. For those of us in the industry, it is the current way of thinking and creating a product that efficiently relays information from our clients to their customers.

Changing Behavior

The smartphone has had a profound impact on our lives. Users no longer have to make a note to research a topic when they make it back to their computer. Mobile phones have changed behavior in many other ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Users will often use mobile devices to research and then move to a computer to complete a purchase. This means a seamless experience that delivers the same content across devices will make the transition more intuitive to the user.
  • Optimizing for mobile allows your customers to engage with your brand away from home. Happy customers become brand ambassadors and are able to share their love for a product any time their phone is at hand.
  • If a customer has a bad experience, they have more power than ever to let others know. Their experience – positive or negative – has the potential of being shared to Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, and other social networks before they even leave your business.
  • Mobile traffic to Yelp has outgrown desktop traffic. [3] If you run a business influenced by Yelp, these mobile users will potentially click to your website for more information.

Just the Numbers

For those of you who love statistics, this next section is for you:

  • Global mobile data traffic grew 81% in 2013
  • 51% of emails are now opened on a mobile device
  • Mobile email opens increased 21% in 2013
  • No one screen size has more than 20% of the market share [4]
  • 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience
  • 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal, whether that’s on smartphones, PCs, tablets or TV.

In 2012, I took on zero responsive projects at Noble Studios. Since then, majority of websites I have been involved with have been responsive. The change in mindset from our clients was quick and calculated. Businesses all over expect us to deliver a product that is viewable across every device.

I have also noticed a change in my relationship with mobile over the past two years. When traveling, I rely heavily on Yelp to direct me to good dining choices. If a restaurant catches my eye, I’ve come to expect I will be able to access the restaurant’s website and menu. I plan travel by car via Google Maps using the live traffic feature. I have started to plan less and explore more because of my ability to freely access information on my phone.

Looking towards the future, I can’t begin to predict how we may access information on the go. As someone who works in the industry, it is an exciting prospect that keeps me and my co-workers continually learning and growing. Maybe one day web designers and developers will create websites that function in spaceships and flying cars. It is the great unknown which has pushed us to our current process. We simply can’t predict what technology is waiting around the corner. Responsive thinking has become our best tool for navigating rapid change.

Mr. Musk and Sir Richard, you may now beam me up.