What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive Web Design

Our web site shown on multiple devices. See how the site ‘responds’ to the device? That is responsive design.

If you follow web design/e-commerce trends, you have probably been hearing a lot about Responsive Web Design or Mobile First design. In a nutshell, this is a method of building a site that provides an optimal viewing experience for users on ALL devices – from desktop computers to smart phones. The site ‘responds’ or scales to each device, giving each use the same experience albeit at a different scale (see the image to the right as an example).

Why is this important? 

First, mobile use on the web is at an all time high, and if you aren’t designing your site to be mobile-friendly your chances of converting visitors into sales is slim. If you have ever tried to navigate a site that isn’t mobile-friendly on your smartphone you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  Your mobile users expect the same experience as the desktop visitors, and that is either achieved by providing a different version of your site to mobile, or using responsive techniques. The advantage of responsive web design is that you only have to maintain one site instead of two, and your mobile/tablet customers will get the same rich experience as your desktop customers.

Perhaps most importantly, Google is now using mobile friendliness as a ranking factor in their algorithm. That means that if you aren’t taking your mobile users into consideration, you are hurting yourself in the rankings. Google provides a little ‘Mobile Friendly’ tag on corresponding sites in their search results, so there is a good chance the potential customer is going to click on a mobile friendly link as opposed to one that isn’t.

So what does this mean to you as a store owner?

The answer really depends on which shopping cart platform you are using.  The big hosted carts like Shopify, Bigcommerce and Spark Pay all have responsive templates that you can select, some are even free.  If you are currently using a template that is NOT responsive I would strongly suggest that you switch to one that is.  If you have a template that was custom designed, it is time to redesign it as responsive.

If you are using Pinnacle Cart, the good news is that their new version (3.8) is responsive by default rather than using a two template method like they have done in the past.  So if you are working with us to build a site on the new platform, we are already building it as a responsive template for you.  The bad news is that due to the complete overhaul of the template system and admin area, you can’t upgrade to this version from an older version.  The store will have to be completely rebuilt.  Your order, customer and product data can all be migrated, but the template will have to be completely redone.

If you are on an older version of Pinnacle Cart (3.7 and below), you don’t have to upgrade to 3.8 in order to have a responsive template.  We can convert that template into a responsive template for you, just drop us a line for a free consult!

What does it cost to get a responsive template?

The cost of upgrading to 3.8 or rebuilding your template on 3.7 will really depend on the complexity of the design layout.  Stores with left hand navigation are more difficult to convert than stores that use a top menu.  Stores that use videos or slideshows will be more difficult to convert than stores that use static images.  It may make sense in some stores to stick with 3.7 if there are a number of complex mods in place, but some stores may be better off upgrading to get to the latest version.  We’ll be happy to look at your stores on a case by case basis and give you the best options for your particular store.

As Pinnacle Cart already has a built-in mobile version of the site, you aren’t being penalized by Google. However, responsive design is clearly the direction the industry is heading, so this is something you should definitely put on the radar in the next year or two.

Questions?  Feel free to contact us!