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Responsive design has hit the mainstream. By now, brands like 1-800 CONTACTS, Samsung, and Microsoft have all made their websites at least partially responsive. Many marketers are leading the shift to a single site approach in an effort to create a more consistent web experience for consumers -- while technology teams benefit from the more manageable web presence. Despite the success of early adopters, a number of brands still have questions, which are most often related to site speed.
Increasing site speed is a non-trivial challenge, and marketing teams bear the impact of the positive or negative results -- directly on the bottom line. If you don't know how fast your site loads on a desktop, tablet and smartphone device, you should. We have all heard the statistics; according to Aberdeen Group one second more in load time means 7% fewer conversions, 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in overall customer satisfaction. Done poorly, responsive design can slow down a mobile web experience. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The first responsive site to garner attention was bostonglobe.com. As the first in a number of media sites to go responsive, context and screen width were irrelevant to the content a visitor consumed. By their nature, these sites led to the idea that responsive design meant layouts couldn't be tailored to a device, and all content had to be delivered on mobile. This created slow, unoptimized site experiences. Today, we know that if your site is optimized for responsive, load time on a mobile device can actually be lower than that of an unoptimized desktop site, and potentially the same as an mDot site.
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A world-renowned theme park's journey beyond responsive design
For a world-renowned theme park, it took only eight weeks to make mobile checkout conversions jump 82% after implementing transformative responsive design. Many would celebrate that monumental accomplishment and stop there. But once you have a taste of what an improved customer experience can do for your bottom line, you begin to wonder where else improvement can be achieved.
While checkout conversions had surpassed expectations, the theme park's site speed averaged more than a second higher than industry standard in desktop site load time and 1.5 seconds higher on mobile. This is predominately because the site's page weight was about 500kb over industry best practice.
The company decided to conduct a server-side optimization audit. The goal was to decrease page load time and increase perceived site speed for the consumer, all targeted to deliver superior customer experiences that result in increased conversion rates. After performing the audit, strategic recommendations were made, which specifically addressed speed-related improvements.
Through subsequent optimization, the theme park was able to decrease page weight by an average of 30 to 50 %, depending on the page. The optimization methods enlisted by the theme park, starting from the method with the largest impact on performance down to the smallest, included:
- Image compression
- Convert image text to HTML
- Download images specific to desktop, tablet and Smartphone devices
- Add client side validation
- Move inline styles to CSS files
- Convert gradients to CSS
- Disable View State
- Minify to reduce the use of unnecessary characters
Doing the above not only lightened page weight to deliver a faster website, and ultimately better experience, but some of them also improved SEO and maintainability. The result was a higher performing website for both the marketing and technology teams.
Chances are if you haven't already started down the path of responsive design, it is on your to do list. As you work with your technology teams to implement responsive design, whether transforming your existing site or rebuilding, remember responsive design is all about creating the ideal customer experience. It's about optimization – no matter the device – and it's about creating opportunities for conversion at every touchpoint.
About the Sponsor
Patrick Collins merges his technology expertise and agency acumen to marry big data with big ideas. As SVP of the Customer Experience Group at Merkle, Collins leads an award-winning team of Creatives, Mobile Technologists and Strategists to develop personalized, immersive consumer experiences for leading brands.
Merkle, a technology enabled, data driven customer relationship marketing (CRM) firm, is the nation's largest privately-held agency. As a proud member of the Merkle family, Merkle | 5th Finger offers cutting-edge mobile technology solutions and professional services for world-class brands.