INside Performance Marketing
PMI is Next Week – Join Us The only two-day event for affiliate marketing, lead gen and biddable media Book your ticket now
The Importance of Responsive Design
Image Credit  Johan Larsson Creative Commons license

The Importance of Responsive Design

Imagine you saw the perfect pair of shoes while browsing the internet during your lunch break at work. As you’re riding the train home, you remember how much you liked those shoes, so you pull out your smartphone to make the purchase - except the mobile site doesn’t load properly on your phone screen, so you can’t complete the transaction.

Now picture you’re visiting a French company’s website on your tablet after first discovering it on your computer. You love the look of the products, but the site doesn’t have the same feel as it did on your laptop, and the English translation seems off. Confused, you close the site, search for an alternative, and make your purchase from a different retailer.

These are scenarios that are unfortunately far too common in the global marketing and e-commerce space, but both could be avoided with the use of responsive design templates and localisation.

Mobile dominance and technological benefits

We live in a world where 4.3 billion people own a mobile phone and 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis. That means the chances of a customer wanting to take advantage of mobile commerce are extremely high. If he or she can’t do so because a brand’s mobile site isn’t configured properly, the potential customer will often abandon their purchase, or worse, give up on the brand entirely. Responsive design helps to counteract that possibility.

On the most basic level, responsive design recognises different mobile devices and, as the name suggests, scales accordingly, adjusting the original website to fit the new dimensions, pixels, and definitions. Instead of having to build a different site for every device a company wants their content to be viewed through, they can instead make all necessary changes to one original website built on a responsive template, and the website will be updated across all platforms. This saves the company considerable time and money.

But it’s not just a matter of quicker implementation. Responsive design also helps immensely with search engine optimisation (SEO). Responsive websites score higher on Google because they maintain the same URL across all devices and channels, so having a mobile site does not dilute the search engine results. The ability to seamlessly share information across channels boosts search results and campaign value on a global scale, and there’s not a company in the world that doesn’t want that.

Of course, implementing a responsive design strategy doesn’t mean an international business can gloss over the crucial steps of localisation and translation; no matter how well it adjusts to a tablet, a website won’t be effective if the language on that site is clunky, inaccurate, or culturally irrelevant. If the original web content is strong, responsive design can work wonders, but it isn’t foolproof and it won’t do the work on its own. Companies still need to put in the legwork, taking time to accurately translate and localise content for each new market. Once these steps are taken care of, however, responsive design has the chance to shine as it allows a brand’s content to stay streamlined and consistent across channels.

Responsive websites in action

Let’s say a German company decides to create versions of its site to target other European countries, as well as the US. All content undergoes the translation and localisation process, but then, if a responsive template has been effectively implemented, that process is just a one-time event. There is no need to write new content for new URLs, or rework the messaging to fit a new device. Instead, the German site remains consistent across all screens, as does the US site and the other European sites after just one round of adjustments. This ensures the information will remain accurately aligned, and none of the content will be overlooked or forgotten in unnecessary rounds of translations.

That consistency is crucial. Businesses must deliver the same products, quality, and user experience every single time an individual steps through their door or logs onto their site if they want to maintain a positive reputation. Responsive design can help international brands do that in the mobile sector, because with consistent content and design comes consistent branding and messaging. Company tone and voice will remain the same, resources won’t be obscured and customers can feel confident that they truly know and understand the company with which they’re doing business. That will lead to better brand awareness, not to mention higher levels of customer retention and greater loyalty.

All of this leads to the ultimate goal of keeping customers satisfied worldwide. A company using responsive design to distribute its properly localised content can be sure that a customer in China shopping on her tablet will be just as pleased with her experience as a Brazilian browsing on his desktop, and that’s invaluable for success in the global market.

Liz Elting

Liz Elting

Liz Elting is co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, which is headquartered in New York City.

Read more from Liz

Join over 10,000 performance marketers for the ultimate weekly update on industry news