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.