Sony Betamax Video Player

Let’s face it–trends in web design come and go pretty quickly nowadays. (May the dreaded “Flash Animation Era” rest in peace.) And, if you’re like most small business owners, you’re so busy managing employees, inventory, payroll, and margins that sparing even a minute of your time to learn about trends like responsive web design seems, well, like a waste. Why bother learning about some fad that won’t be relevant in six months? (Sorry, white Helvetica lettering superimposed on a low-contrast photo background!)

However, the fact is that if you’re not using responsive web design, you’re ignoring 89% of your potential customers.

Think I’m exaggerating? According to a recent Mobile Media Consumption report by InMobi, only 11% of consumers primarily use
their desktops to go online.

That means that if your web site is designed only for desktops (i.e., is “static”), then 89% of your potential customers won’t be able
to use your website as intended–which means that you’re definitely missing out on sales.

How can I be so sure? Because, according to this survey, forty percent of smartphone users will choose one of your competitors if your site isn’t “responsive”; that is, if it can’t provide them with a seamless user experience on their mobile device.

Because that’s all that “responsive web design” means–it means that a website is designed to display well on all types of screens, from mobile phones to tablets to laptops.

Still skeptical? Here’s a little play I wrote about responsive web design.

SCENE: A MAN and his WIFE, ages 35-49, are driving around shopping on a sunny Saturday.

WIFE: Hey babe, can we drop by that one furniture store on Northwest? We really need a new bed frame.

MAN: Sure–if we can look at grills after that.

WIFE: Wait, isn’t there some store in Ferndale that sells furniture and grills?

MAN: Maybe. Look it up.

WIFE: (checking smartphone) Hmm. I can’t get their website to load.

MAN: Well, I’m not driving all the way out there unless they have both. Can’t you at least find a number to call?

WIFE: No–I can’t get to their contact page.

MAN: Whatever. Let’s go to the store on Northwest.

All right, it’s not “Death of a Salesman,” but it gets the point across. How many times have you looked up a store, restaurant, venue, or other business on your phone before visiting it? If you couldn’t figure out their hours or location immediately, did you persist or move on to your second choice?

With incredible rapidity, updates in mobile technology have transformed how people make consumer choices today. They’re not sitting down in their well-appointed offices with their desktops and diligently researching their choices; instead, they’re making decisions on the fly, on the road, or even in-store, with their mobile devices. According to the Pew Internet Project, as of October 2014, 64% of American adults own a smartphone. And the Bloomberg Business reports that users spend “an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes on them each day.”

Not only is that more time than we spend watching TV; but, many users also use their smartphones as a “second screen” while watching TV. And when they’re not reading “Game of Thrones” recaps during “Game of Thrones” in order to keep all the grizzled middle-aged untrustworthy guys straight, they’re socializing and . . . they’re shopping. And, interestingly enough, if they’re searching for products from local businesses, 78% of those searches will result in a purchase.

These are numbers too huge to ignore. A LOT of people are using their smartphones and tablets to make purchases decisions, and more people are expected to join them. Forrester Research projects that consumers will spend $327 billion online in 2016.

Now, don’t you want a piece of that pie? Come on!

If all this data on the importance of responsive web design for your business still leaves you cold, I’ve got one last exercise for you. Pick up your smartphone, and look at your top three competitors’ websites. Pretend to be a customer in need of your product or service. How easy is it for you to navigate their websites? Are you able to find the information you want about their hours or pricing? Can you order their products with the click of a button? Is shopping on their websites a smoother and simpler process than shopping on yours?

Be honest with yourself. If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you’ve got a problem.

Don’t get left behind. Look into responsive web design today. It’s not a passing trend, like lava lamps or Chia pets–it’s here to stay.

Leave a Comment

Error: Please check your entries!