Explaining the importance of responsive design to your clients

As web professionals, it’s easy to see why responsive design is the future of the web. That isn’t always the case for our clients. Local businesses and restaurants are usually the bread and butter (slight pun intended) of designers and developers everywhere. Sometimes, these clients can be the hardest to sell on modern best practices, such as responsive and mobile-friendly web design. Clients will often inject their own feelings into their decision making process (“I just don’t like looking at web pages on tiny screens”). Other times, they’re hunting for places to save on budget. Usually, this means responsive design is the first “feature” to be cut. In order to convince them otherwise, you need to convey to your clients that implementing a mobile-friendly experience is absolutely crucial to their bottom-line (it is). Here’s how:

Show them the numbers

The numbers on market share of mobile devices and tablets are staggering:

Source: Smart Insights

Microsoft has famously predicted that internet users on mobile devices will overtake desktop users next year. Even if that prediction doesn’t come true, 20% isn’t exactly a number to ignore. If you’re shutting out or providing a sub-par experience for one-fifth of your users, you’re going to lose out on potential business. Which brings us to…

Paint a picture about your client’s customers

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Source: Google

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Google has some awesome tools for visualizing the usage habits of the mobile market. Here’s some nifty conclusions you can draw from some of the different data sets:

There’s loads more data than that, too. Increasingly, smartphone users are using their devices to make decisions about what restaurants to go to, what products to purchase, and what businesses to visit. Investing in a responsive, mobile-friendly site helps steer those customers to your business.

Tell them their bounce rate depends on it

Every second counts when it comes to bounce rates and conversion goals. Redirecting to m.yoursite.com costs precious time. Research shows that users give up when pages take longer than 5 seconds to load. Other research suggests that even shaving a few milliseconds off of your load time can increase conversion rates significantly. In general, responsive pages are served, loaded, and rendered quicker than other mobile experiences.

Load time isn’t the end, either. Users want to be able to quickly and easily find basic information about local businesses and restaurants. If they can’t find your hours, if your menu is a huge pdf, or if your site is generally inconvenient to navigate, users will bounce to another site, which means they won’t be visiting you in real life. Making sure that vital information is presentable across all devices is key to getting new business through your website.

Tell them what Google thinks

Straight up, Google is telling us to ditch other methods in favor of responsive design.

Using the same URL and content across all devices helps Google index and weight your site. Google masquerades as most of the common mobile devices when crawling your site, and if there are content inconsistencies, you may be penalized. Redirects, such as to mobile-only pages, don’t help either, and can become a trap for endless redirects if not implemented properly. For local businesses, page ranking can be cut-throat. Playing by Google’s rules goes a long way towards leaping ahead of the competition.

The Bottom Line

Whether you shy away from clients who aren’t interested in going responsive is up to you, but explaining your process can go a long way towards making a client comfortable with the scope of a project.

Roll the “cost” of mobile-first development into your estimates, rather than separating it out into a different line-item. Most of us are already integrating responsive design into our normal workflow. Personally, I’ve got grids and frameworks ready to go at the start of every project, and ripping out the responsive parts is almost more work. Explain to your client that this is a normal part of the process, just like wireframing, or even sitting down at a computer in the first place.

Remember, every project is also a portfolio piece – a reflection on the quality of work that you do. You don’t want to be the person (or firm) that doesn’t keep up with modern best practices. In that regard, selling your clients on responsive is a win-win.

Adam Gesuero

Creative Director

"I call him Bub." More Posts by Adam

3 Responses to “Explaining the importance of responsive design to your clients”

  1. Derp

    Well, Google isn’t exactly know for their design.

  2. Kyle Miller

    Spot on! We recognized this explosive Mobile trend before we embarked on development of our new Consumer Website and know responsive was a ‘must do’ ! (desktop launched, responsive suite a few weeks behind)

  3. responsive design

    What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & help other customers like its aided me. Good job.

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