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5 Benefits of Responsive Web Design

Nov 18, 2020 8:40:05 AM

In a 2019 report, 82% of smartphone users have made a purchase using their mobile devices. 

As eCommerce has gained in popularity over recent years, so has the usage of multiple devices used to access those sites. This has created an immediate need to recreate the UI/UX development process and its tools. UX and HCI researchers have done an intensive study on the methods in which users hold their phones.

The four methods are:

  1. One-handed
  2. Cradle with a thumb
  3. Cradle with a finger
  4. Two-handed 

It also included details on how and when the users held the phone such as with one hand and in which direction for example, horizontally vs. vertically, and when it was held with two hands.

Post-BannerPhoto Credit: iStock

To understand the transition, below is the precise definition of two types of designs to support mobile development. The trend now is to move from a reactive website to a responsive website.

Reactive websites (adaptive) - displays a website specifically designed for the device type the website is being viewed on.

Responsive websites - automatically resize to the screen size of the site being viewed on. It uses more grid type or ratio scaling.

These designs help the site owners reach their target audience and receive a better feedback loop, resulting in a better return of investment because visitors will have more reasons to visit the website, and therefore, increasing results. 

Here is a list of 5 reasons the industry is moving to this newer front-end tech stack, i.e. Responsive Web Design.

1. User Experience

In 2013, 16.2% of the traffic came from mobile devices. Six years after this data was published, the number was at 52.2%. These statistics should not surprise us, as we are becoming increasingly connected to our devices.

Users will not spend more time on sites that do not have pinch, shift, and zoom options. Users want websites that are easy to use and lightweight on mobile systems.

The responsive architecture can help with the mobile experience by allowing sites to load faster. According to the data provided by Akamai, when we see an increase in load time from mobile sites from 1 second to 3, conversion rate drops by half, and the bounce rate increases by 6%. Conversion rates will continue to decline from there. If the page takes longer to load, the user is likely to abandon the site. One other additional challenge for mobile users is that they are not sitting at home with broadband. The users are in crowded stadiums, arenas, buses, and trains. The response time on pages is even slower given they are working off mobile networks.

Another convenient feature of responsive architecture is that a user can now share a URL with a friend via text and the friend will be able to access it immediately. In the past, users would have to go back to their laptops to send out these links. This occurrence will grow the user base due to ease of use.

Users also prefer a seamless experience where the websites on all their devices, look, feel, and behave similarly. Responsive websites achieve the same look and feel by providing a seamless experience on all devices and allow users to pick up on another device from exactly where they left on one device.

2. Better SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a mix of data science and art at this point. Search engines come up with better methods of tracking websites and scoring. Site owners alter our systems to help support these changes. As more users visit the websites, the economy of scale allows them to continue to grow the website for the users and the site will be able to provide better content.

  1. Responsive websites tend to have faster loading times which can result in higher site ranking amongst the search engines.
  2. Responsive websites will not have a duplicate amount of data i.e., one for mobile and one for web. Duplicate content tends to hurt SEO goals and objectives.
  3. Responsive websites are better at building backlinks. It shows the search engine that the site is reputable and is treated as a "vote of confidence." The higher that vote of confidence is, the higher the rank in the SEO will be.

3. Better Conversions and Lower Bounce Rate

As mentioned earlier, UI/UX developers have noted that the phone is handled in a few ways. UI/UX experts have broken the reachability of the device based on the methods mentioned above. They call this the "thumb zone." In a traditional commerce arena, retailers would place certain items next to each other and in specific locations to increase sales. The thumb zone is like that retail space which can produce a better, faster experience for the user. Once retailers target the location of items, they will have better conversations and a reduced bounce rate.

  1. The conversion rate is where the user reacts with the desired action. In an eCommerce site, the user is deemed converted when a purchase is made.
  2. The bounce rate tracks if people are going into the main page and leaving from that location or if they are exploring other pieces of the site. The better use of the thumb zone will reduce the bounce rate.

4. Better Analytics

The analytics will create a better feedback loop. Data starts from Single Source Of Truth (SSOT)  rather than two sites. A data scientist can then maneuver the data quickly and more efficiently to provide more timely feedback for developers and prepare them for future state development. A single platform will allow more accuracy of data across all devices.

Users will receive content updates to the site rapidly and produce a user-friendly site. One additional advantage is if the user stays on the site and interacts with the site, the site owner will be able to get more insights. 

5. Efficiency in Development / Maintenance

Development teams for reactive websites will need another resource to develop these mobile sites. The cost will add up and be difficult to maintain as they will have to support multiple types of devices. The responsive environment is not only a solution to the development but also the enhancement and maintenance side. As teams have better development tools and resources, the site should be able to manage better technology and tools while updating the experience of the page for users. The development team will be able to better address issues on their site.

In addition to the newer front-end, the architecture works well in the back-end. Modern back-end architecture is primarily focused on Cloud, Microservices, and No SQL databases, such as MongoDB. The upgrades will help in the growth of the development team's technical stack, and be able to support Agile development. This front and back-end technology will provide better services to the end-user of the website.

How to Move Forward

The user experience for eCommerce platforms is evolving. Businesses need to react to the needs of their users. The change from a reactive to responsive sites will allow teams to grow, support, and develop the growing mobile platform. The quote by Brad Shorr, "no business can afford to limp along with a desktop-only site," puts this need succinctly. The better call-to-action is now, no eCommerce site can limp around without responsive web technology and businesses need to focus on the thumb zone. Now is the peak time to update front-end technology stacks to responsive technologies to support users, grow customers, and address those 79% of visitors who have been visiting eCommerce sites.

If you need help jumpstarting your Web UI/UX activities or any part of your software department, contact Nisum’s Technology Enablement division. Large organizations have found that Nisum gives them a competitive edge through innovative approaches they apply to their software. They’re using Nisum to build responsive software and websites that help drive better business.


Nisum has always been committed to serving our global and local communities, and right now, there is no greater crisis impacting the world than the COVID-19. Now, we are actively joining to fight by offering our services free of charge to organizations that have shifted focus to actively fight against this pandemic. Visit our COVID-19 Pro Bono Offer page for more information.


Written by Nisum

Founded in California in 2000, Nisum is a digital commerce company focused on strategic IT initiatives using integrated solutions that deliver real and measurable growth.


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