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Out of the entire FTSE 100, only two companies use responsive design. One of these is a Chilean mining company (Antofagasta), the other a UK based commercial property company (Land Securities Group).

Of the remaining 98 companies, 42 use dedicated mobile sites, while the other 56 do not provide a separate mobile experience from the desktop version of their site.

The Search Agency UK has revealed these results as part of its mobile experience scorecard, in which the mobile site performance of each of the FTSE 100 companies was evaluated.

The top scorers in the test were Tesco, which came in first with a score of 4.38 out of five, and Morrison Supermarkets, which came in second with 4.12 out of five.

The average score for all companies in the study is 1.99 out of five, which is slightly below the US average of 2.29.

It seems as though responsive design isn’t nearly as popular for companies as having a dedicated mobile site. However is this trend indicative of all businesses with an online presence or is this just a trend for the companies in the FTSE 100?

The value of mobile presence for retail and B2B

I’m not terrifically convinced that using the FTSE 100 is the right test group for a mobile performance test, being as the FTSE 100 contains a large percentage of B2B companies and major international corporations.

The criteria used in the test: load speed, site format, calculated download speed, social media presence, and app presence, point towards user experience from a customer point of view. How many visitors to a mining company’s website (of which there are a handful in the FTSE 100) are coming to it via mobile?

It makes sense that retailers score the highest in this report, as these are customer facing sites, and therefore using responsive design or hosting a dedicated mobile site is a high priority because it’s all about providing the best user experience for the screen size the site is being viewed on. After all, the amount of traffic being driven to ecommerce via a small screen is increasing sharply.

According to our own Christmas 2013 ecommerce stats round-up, the majority of Boxing Day traffic to UK retail websites came from mobile devices. 

Mobile traffic grew to 58% of all online traffic, an increase of 42% over 2012. Sales completed via mobile devices were also strong, growing 63% year over year, and exceeding 45% of total online sales.

It makes complete sense for any ecommerce site to have a fully mobile optimised online presence, otherwise that retailer will be left far behind. 40% of mobile users claim they would click another result if a site was not mobile optimised, according to IceBreaker Consulting.

What about B2B companies though? Am I just being churlish in pointing out that two of the ‘driest’ examples of companies in FTSE 100 are the only ones with a responsive site? Am I underestimating the value of responsive design for B2B companies? 

Google itself recommends that developers use responsive design in its mobile design strategy. In its Webmasters guidelines, Google states that “making a website that is friendly to smartphone users has now become a critical part of website management".

Therefore if Google recommends it, you can be sure that no matter what your website does, whether its ecommerce, B2B or publishing, if you're able to serve content effectively to mobile users then you will score big points with the search engine and the chances of you ranking higher than your mobile unfriendly competitors is increased.

Responsive design versus mobile dedicated site

In a recent article on the Econsultancy blog, Grant Kemp suggests that responsive design may not be the right answer for all businesses.

A responsive site design may mean having to make compromises on the existing desktop site, which could lead to user dissatisfaction and a drop in conversion.

In many cases having a stripped down, mobile specific site can lead to quicker performance and minimal load time. Mobile users tend to have a different agenda to desktop users and need information quickly and efficiently. Having a responsive desktop site can hamper the mobile user’s journey, making for an experience that isn’t correctly optimised for that device.

There is no 'one size fits all solution', responsive design possibly isn't the answer to everything in terms of serving the needs of all users. A tailored approach to mobile design needs to be implented taking into account analytics, user experience and a great deal of testing.

However as strong as the above points are, unfortunately it seems that Google does have a bias towards responsive design.

Here it is in bold:

It turns out that the Chilean mining company and the UK based commercial property company may have the edge after all. 

For more on responsive design on the blog, check out the 25 best responsive sites from 2013.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 27 February, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (7)

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Totally agree. Businesses need to start understanding with what devices their audience is interacting with website. A recent Infographics designed by every1; http://www.helloevery1.com/resources/infographics/do-your-customers-need-a-responsive-website/; highlights how people access content throughout the day using different devices. So businesses need to firstly build this understanding about their audience and make a wise decision.

over 2 years ago

Kristian Bannister

Kristian Bannister, Creative Marketing Executive at No Pork Pies

It's always worth considering what browsers your audience users. A lot of B2B sites are likely to receive more traffic from people visiting while at work who are still using archaic versions of browsers.

Media Queries aren't supported by Internet Explorer 8 and below so responsive might not be the best solution for all B2B companies. I've just checked for one of my own B2B clients and they are still seeing around 10% of traffic from visitors using IE6-8.

over 2 years ago

Ben Austin

Ben Austin, CEO at Absolute Digital Media

The priority is to ensure your users have a good experience whatever device they prefer to use, but for those in the B2B sector where the proportion of mobile traffic tends to be lower than with B2C there’s also cost to consider. Creating a separate mobile site might not be worth the investment, but responsive design offers a cost-effective alternative.

over 2 years ago


Chrissie Davis, Director at Eximia Limited

Hammerson can be added to the FTSE 100 list with a responsive site

over 2 years ago


JTech Communications

Responsive design is in an interesting place as the devices and browsers move forward. Since responsive doesn't work so well on older browsers that would be motivation to take it more slowly. On the other side the increase in mobile internet usage, and the wide variety of devices make responsive increasingly important. One of the main advantages that I see to responsive web design is its ability to adapt to devices that aren't explicitly considered. I think it is likely that the usage of the internet of devices and the variety of devices will increase, making responsive sites better than mobile sites.

over 2 years ago


Martin Hogan, MD at Repsero

Some good examples there guys. Ultimately you want to work with a company that is going to advise you on what is best for you and your customer base. Try these: http://www.amriss.com

over 2 years ago

Raj Arora

Raj Arora, Owner at Miracle Studios Pvt Ltd

I absolutely appropriate this post. Responsive is very important for B2B and other small website. Here are more http://bit.ly/1gtsus3 about responsive web design and how it is important for us.

over 2 years ago

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