It was interesting to note in mobile application developer Lauruss Infotech’s recent press release that the subject was their launch of a “responsive” website on which they would be selling their mobile apps.
The reason this caught our attention was that a responsive website is designed to function on any device, whether it is a traditional PC, a tablet or a smartphone. Soon they may have to accommodate display on some wearable devices but that is a bit further down the road.
But for some time now there has been debate about whether you should be developing mobile apps using native device programming or by using something like html5 to allow it to be Internet based. Now many are adding the fact that a mobile app could be effectively deployed by using a “mobile first” responsive web design.
The idea that this is a reasonable track to follow for mobile app development is strongly supported by the success stories of websites that have transitioned their retail site to a responsive design. Case in point would be a company like MandM Direct who reported that conversion rates among customers using mobile phones and tablets were up and that bounce rates had dropped “significantly” thanks to the responsive design coupled with a mobile first delivery technology.
In fact, according to the companies IT director Graham Benson, “In my opinion, a lot of retailers build mobile and tablet apps to compensate for the fact that they simply can’t deliver an optimized web experience on mobile phones,”. This suggests that, at least in his opinion, either you should have a responsive website and skip the apps or, better yet, have both.
There is a lot of room for growth in the area of responsive websites. According to a report by Restive labs, a responsive web framework developer, only 3% of Enterprise level websites are responsive and only 15% of all webs are “fully” responsive. Fully responsive according to them are webs that “require no redirection for optimal use on a mobile device.”
“The takeaway from this report is that enterprise websites, and perhaps websites in general, still have a long way to go to attain readiness for a world where the smartphone or tablet is the primary web access device,” Obinwanne Hill, founder and CEO of Restive Labs and author of the report said. “It’s hard to believe that almost 4 years after responsive web design and 10 years after web performance optimization came to prominence, there is still very low adoption of these important techniques.”
Considering that the construction of a responsive website isn’t necessarily difficult for most competent web development firms and equally developing mobile apps based on responsive web technologies and frameworks are also becoming a well developed discipline. Very nearly any business of any size can have one for a cost that is only driven by how deep or feature rich the site itself might be.
Enterprise and mid-size firms should be looking at moving their eCommerce and front facing websites to a responsive platform sooner rather than later as the ease of use on multiple devices is driving adoption of them faster every day. Consulting with an expert firm, knowledgeable in how to build responsive webs and applications, may be your best bet if you lack the in-house expertise or time to further explore the benefits.
Responsive webs were once a novelty but those days are past. Necessity is the new destination and those who don’t catch on will simply miss the boat, or the customers, depending on how you look at it.