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Every month more than 100,000 people visit Econsultancy using a mobile device, but we're yet to launch a responsive site. This isn’t because we don’t want to make the user experience better for mobile and tablet users. It’s simply that we’ve had to prioritise other things, and tech resources are limited.

It’s pretty straightforward to make a business case for mobile-friendly design if you have a transactional but non-responsive website: simply look at your conversion rates by device. They’ll probably be fairly woeful for tablets, and even worse for mobiles (certainly if ours are anything to go by). Add a dollop of simple maths and you’ll have some idea of the opportunity cost of not making the customer experience better for mobile and tablet users. 

I first made the case for mobile about three years ago, when about 5% of people used a smartphone to access our website. That wasn’t enough to make it a high priority, but by the end of this year around 20% of visitors will be browsing via a mobile device. That changes things considerably, and more so as our visitor numbers continue to grow.

In our case I reckon we’re missing out on six figures worth of annual revenue, and as such we’re busy working away behind the scenes on a number of initiatives, including a fully responsive website.

I have yet to hear about a decline in conversion rates following the roll-out of a responsive site. In fact, I only ever hear amazing things.

So, if you're making a business case and need some examples then here are a bunch of companies that have benefited from significant uplift in the key metrics following the implementation of responsive design. 

Lovehoney [+60% to 100% CR] 

Bench [+100% CR]

State Farm [+56% CR]

Baines & Ernst [+51% CR]

Horze [+19% CR]

FreshSparks [+13% CR]

CareerBuilder [+20% email CTR]

Harviestoun [+28% mobile traffic]

Need more proof? If we step away from Twitter there's plenty of articles singing the praises of responsive design.

Let's start with Brad Frost:

First of all, some numbers are coming back on responsive retail sites and they’re looking pretty damn good. 42.4% conversion rate increases. Over 400% (!) conversion rate increases for Android.

And then there's beauty brand Nars [+54% mobile CR]:

In addition to the 54 percent increase in smartphones, check-out conversions from a tablet increased 24 percent as a result of the site launch. The company decided to roll out a responsive site because of limited teams and structure that could not back up three different sites.

Finally, there are another five brands that we've previously looked at, which have all achieved remarkable increases in the key metrics after going down the responsive route.

If you have some before and after data following a responsive-focused revamp then I'd love to hear from you, either by email (chris@), or via the comments area below. Otherwise good luck if you're on the verge of making a business case, or are about to launch your new site.

[Image via James Forster @ Exis Web]

Chris Lake

Published 6 August, 2013 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (19)

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Edward Robertson

Hi Chris

We created a new responsive web site for an educational publisher, and when we compared the first month of the responsive site to the previous month we saw

mobile visits were up 16%
mobile orders were up 25%
mobile revenue was up 73%

You can see the details at http://www.edwardrobertson.co.uk/blog/is-responsive-web-design-worth-it

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Thanks Edward - great results.

about 3 years ago

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David Hobbs

Admittedly I've only looked at the Bench site so far - but I wouldn't classify that as a responsive site. It only covers two view ports; desktop and mobile. I would call it a mobile optimised site, not responsive. It lacks any of the fluid elements which are fundamental in responsive design.
On a 7 inch tablet the site is cropped and the roll-overs don't work as intended.

'...a site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images and CSS3 media queries...'

about 3 years ago

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Gareth Irvine

Can I ask why "Responsive design" is now used seemingly universally to describe "Tablet and mobile optimisation"? There is absolutely no evidence that the example retailers above would not have got the same great results or even better ones by developing separate sites optimised for each platform, and this is what I see consistently when articles are published eulogising the wonder of RWD.

These examples may well have actually deployed RWD but I've also seen articles which mistakenly label adaptive design approaches as "Responsive" design because the term has become so prevalent and all-encompassing.

I'm not making a claim for a preference for any approach, and we are still in fact making our business case for Mobile optimisation (having just delivered an RWD site with only Desktop and Tablet viewports), but we should remind ourselves that it's the EXPERIENCE that is key, NOT the technology approach that is used.

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@David - It seems to me that in many cases 'responsive' is added as an afterthought, with existing sites adapted as opposed to new ones being built from scratch. Perhaps it isn't so easy to get right, if that's the approach. Certainly there is much to discuss around the implementation of responsive design.

Ultimately, if it doesn't work on a seven inch tablet then it is broken, or at least not fully responsive. Nonetheless, by going some way towards that point Bench has increased its conversion rate. A no brainer, therefore, to go the whole hog.

@Gareth - I know where you're coming from. I searched for the term 'responsive' and 'conversion' to find the examples listed above, and this is the language that these people are using. Whether each specific example is strictly 'responsive' is up for debate.

I do think we should be careful about muddling up 'responsive' vs 'adaptive' vs 'mobile optimised'. They are not synonyms. That said, the central theme of the my article is that if you create a better experience for mobile and tablet users then you will reap the rewards. How you go about that is neither here nor there (I should explore the pros and cons of responsive vs adaptive in a future article).

about 3 years ago

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Alex Woodhams, Global Mobile at Dell

No doubt something better than nothing when it comes to a mobile presence. But, I'd be interested to know how conversion compares to tailor made mobile sites. With many orgs already having mobile sites and websites developed independently - whilst responsive can be a long term cost reduction can a 'jack of all trades' design deliver the best for the customer/conversion rates? One for the business case :)

about 3 years ago

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saj bhojani

Interesting post - question for those who have built a responsive site or for those in the examples within the post did they go responsive after building a mobile optimized site - did they/you see any conversion growth in this scenario? Pretty obvious that if you went responsive with no mobile optimized capability you are bound to see impressive conversion stats...but what about those who have already invested in mobile sites should they also move to a responsive approach?

about 3 years ago

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Spook SEO

Hey Chris nice post! This just comes to show how business owners should go mobile (not to mention on the internet) when marketing their business.

The business owners that aren't even considering internet marketing will surely end-up in shambles with how things are going.

about 3 years ago

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ZH

I agree with Gareth - for me responsive vs. separate mobile/tablet site is still a debate worth having, particularly for ecomm merchants. If none of the examples given had any kind of mobile optimised site previously, then the uplifts aren't surprising at all. The way this is written suggests a Responsive approach is the current holy grail, which simply isn't the case for a big percentage of retailers when you consider spend and reward. It depends heavily on their platform, their existing site(s) and retail/multi channel strategy, to name a just a few considerations.

about 3 years ago

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Calum Brodie

I'd be interested in what time period these ROI increases are measured over.

I think it's important to note that going responsive is about more than just increasing the conversion rate on mobile devices, it's also about providing a seamless transition between online and offline retailing experiences (allowing customers to check products and then go and try on in the store, receive notifications about when their orders are ready to collect, allow the sale assistant to show them products via a tablet etc.)

Also some of the above sites - while responsive - are horribly slow to load, even over 3G which is a real killer to the number of pages the average customer will bother to look at on a visit.

We built our e-commerce platform from the ground up with the above considerations in mind, responsive is only one piece of the puzzle and it can't be considered in isolation. Currently running (www.gant.co.uk and www.gant.se )

about 3 years ago

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Digital agency

A responsive design website for sure will increase the conversion rate on mobile side. What about the desktop users?

As for me I think that here the success is not in the responsive design but in the content its self. For many a responsive design will be equal to lack of content. But at the same time , this lack of content motivate content managers to create more simple and clear content, that are finally appreciated by the users. Thanks for the great article !

about 3 years ago

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Mathew Porter

Great run through, we have just launched a clients new ecommerce site with a responsive layout that has increased mobile traffic conversion rates drastically, but also the desktop site has also seen huge hikes in conversion rates.

about 3 years ago

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Saju Mathew

Hi Chris,
Relay good post, its showing the importance to convert normal website to responsive site. Website owners and designers should read the post, thanks for sharing this.

about 3 years ago

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Anna Miller

Responsive design is so important, because many times the information and tools users need when on mobile are different than the ones they need on desktop websites. Responsive websites better server their audience, and are easier to maintain than a separate mobile website.

about 3 years ago

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web design south wales

We provide our best services to grow your business at high peak in the growing industries. Hence,we welcomed you to visit or can contact us ,because we never compromise with the quality and time boundation.

about 3 years ago

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Dev

This site is so good. we provide our best service for business.

http://blog.cloudfour.com/responsive-web-design-is-solid-gold/comment-page-1/#comment-57089

about 3 years ago

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Saqib Javed, Marketing Manager at Thenextidea

Responsive website design is a very important for a website, because many users are accessing the site with different devices. With responsive web design you can give better web experience to your users.

about 3 years ago

Stephen McElrone

Stephen McElrone, Digital Marketing Executive at www.therughouse.co.uk

Our mobile usage has significantly increased recently yet we have an unresponsive website. The conversion rate via mobile is at rock bottom. We are now in the process of developing a responsive website so it is exciting times.

almost 3 years ago

Stephen McElrone

Stephen McElrone, Digital Marketing Executive at www.therughouse.co.uk

Have a look at our website and if you want to get in touch we would be glad to hear from a design company. www.therughouse.com We are upgrading to a responsive site however there are a large number of other design changes we need to make.

almost 3 years ago

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