Why Responsive Design is Dead

ED KENNEDY

The Adoption of Adaptive Design and the Rise of Progressive Web Apps

Mobile traffic is past its tipping point with roughly 52 percent of web traffic currently deriving from smartphones versus desktops – and counting. People are accessing sites and services with the expectation they will not only have the same functionality they would on desktops, but, more so today, that the sites will also use the functionality native to their devices without needing to download an app. To date, forward-thinking ecommerce companies have worked to ensure their sites were primed for mobile viewing, turning to responsive web design (RWD) as the solution. Times are changing, however, and device-specific experiences are becoming the new requirement (e.g., touch gestures, speech recognition, mobile push notifications). Responsive design that delivers one size, fits none is now being replaced with two new ways of implementing mobile experiences that are faster and provide a better customer experience: adaptive and progressive design. While adaptive design requires more coding, it offers a whole range of other prioritizing features on mobile that customers crave versus receiving a shallow, shrunk-down version of the desktop site that leaves too much to be desired.

But First, The Four Approaches

Before going further, it will be helpful to first understand the differences between mobile themes, responsive web design (RWD), adaptive web design (AWD) and progressive web apps (PWA). Mobile Themes These are responsible for the mobile-dedicated sites of the world – or m-dot. They are easy to add to existing desktop experiences, but each change to the site requires both mobile and desktop updates. What’s more, Google frowns upon serving two different experiences as its crawlers must essentially read two sites because the content and code of mobile themes are separate. Enter: responsive web design. Responsive “Responsive design is client-side, meaning the whole page is delivered to the device browser (the client), and the browser then changes how the page appears in relation to the dimensions of the browser window.” ~ Garrett Goodman of The Huffington Post The positives of RWD are often stated in that the sites are easy to maintain, and they provide a consistent experience across devices. On the other hand, one channel typically suffers. If mobile first, for example, then the desktop does not look quite right. If desktop first, then mobile is overloaded. Still, there is unified content and code, which minimizes the resource burden of catering to both desktop and mobile users. Adaptive “Let’s use an adjustable lamp as a real-world example: responsive design is when you flick the switch, and the lamp responds by turning on the light. Adaptive design is when you’re able to adjust/adapt the lamp so that you can see better. “If a website doesn’t respond to your interaction, it’s not very responsive, and if it isn’t able to adapt to its surroundings (i.e. the device screen), it’s not very adaptive. Both of these can significantly impact the UX.” ~ Daniel Schwarz of Sitepoint The positives of AWD are often under-stated in that it delivers a device-specific experience and it improves website performance (think speed, load times). AWD is not without its negatives though in that enterprises must manage separate code branches, which can add time to development and site updates – even though it uses a single content repository – still very much better than dedicated mobile sites. The content and code are both unified. Now, the mobile experience for both the end-user and the organization hosting the site itself, is becoming more mature. Progressive “PWAs enable companies (and the designers and developers they employ) to deploy their digital creations natively (on iOS or Android for example) and on the mobile/desktop Web itself, taking advantage of both channels, and the benefits of both channels – again, simultaneously.” ~ Peter Prestipino, Website Magazine Progressive web aps are user experiences that have the reach of the web, and the web reaches three times as many people as native apps. There is not a retailer alive who does not want to reach more people. Once they reach them, the users are presented with an app-like experience, using features of phone and browser to enhance mobile web experience – and quicker than other design options allow. Like each of the design approaches mentioned here, PWAs do have their downfalls in that organizations need to manage separate code branches. Managing separate code branches can add time to development and site updates, but PWAs use a single content repository so it is still faster than updating mobile themes. Progression from Desktop to Progressive Web Apps Capture1 Why It’s Time to Move on from Responsive Web Design While responsive web design is the de-facto mobile design approach these days, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Responsive sites send the entire website to a mobile device, which does nothing for user experience. This is called client-side (browser-side) rendering where a mobile browser is doing all the work. Adaptive Design is server-side rendering where the website decides which page elements to send to each browser and at what levels of quality. For consumers, one size also does not fit all. Desktop does not fit mobile, mobile does not fit desktop. And desktop first does not prioritize mobile navigation or features. See Apple’s example below: Capture2 On the left, the desktop navigation makes sense for the product browser. On the right, the mobile navigation is now what the person is used to.  Mobile first doesn’t create a great browse experience on desktop either. Check out the Lyko.se example below where the desktop navigation is hidden and not optimized for the device. Capture3 With the risk of redundancy, again, one size just does not fit all. Mobile first or desktop first means some experience will be second and customers are shopping on multiple devices in a continuous journey between devices. If retailers do not give the right experience in the context of the device someone is using, they will lose that customer engagement. Both approaches, however, do not allow merchants to prioritize features or navigation for the user’s need. The few positives are that responsive design is a dramatic improvement from mobile themes or rendering desktop and it is easy to maintain. Why Adaptive and Progressive makes sense now Technology is improving all the time and underlying technology is getting better and better to support adaptive and progressive approaches. Adaptive has not been discussed as much as responsive because the front-end code technologies were not as good, mobile was not as important as it is now, and responsive was so much better than desktop rendering that it was seen as a natural evolution. AWD has, however, so many positives from front-end development approaches that make it easier to maintain, front-end development approaches that make it faster, a single URL structure for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes (which is why many organizations started using RWD in the first place) and platforms that provide a mobile view for editors that can be integrated to an adaptive mobile strategy. Still, the rising star in the game is progressive web apps. Google is creating these apps to drive ad spend over Apple’s advocacy for native apps. Apple and Google are in a bit of a tussle over mobile experience that will affect ecommerce sales. Google is likely to win because of its higher market share of smartphones globally. This is going to lead to less mobile applications being developed for brands and retailers and more app-like experiences being developed for browsers. Progressive web apps are changing how retailers and brands can create stand out ecommerce experiences online. With progressive web apps many wins are possible. They use stored customer data in the mobile browser like shipping addresses and credit card details, which allows for seamless checkout without loading separate pages. Using progressive web apps, retailers are also able to create fun experiences that behave like apps without developing mobile apps. Paper Planes World is a great example of this, it uses a phones accelerometer (motion sensor) to allow users to ‘launch’ a paper airplane around the world virtually to other site visitors, catch a plane and see the stamps other users added to it. Is AWD or PWAs for Me? With times changing and technology evolving, consumer-savvy retailers would be right to ask if adaptive and responsive are right for their business. First, think of the margin. If device-specific features and experiences are important to the user experience and if users switch device during the journey, these new features are probably worth it. About the Author Ed Kennedy is the senior director of commerce at Episerver, a global software company offering Web content management, digital commerce, and digital marketing, through the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud™ software platform. via: https://www.websitemagazine.com/blog/why-responsive-design-is-dead

Create Visual Stories with Google’s New AMP Format

PETE PRESTIPINO

The “stories” style format has captured the attention of the Web. Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter – pretty much every major platform is adopting the approach – and now you can add one more to the list.

ampstory-image1

Google recently announced the launch of the AMP Story Format and it has marketers and designers on the edge of their virtual seats. 

Those familiar with similar “stories” formats at platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are those that will likely be most eager to adopt the AMP-endable format from Google. Publishers are essentially able to build image, video and animation heavy stories for the mobile experience that users on mobile devices can easily swipe throgh.

Google has partnered and is launching with the usual suspects including CNN, Conde Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media and The Washington Post. Like all of AMP, this is an open-source project (there’s no tooling available either) so publishers are on their own for development.

It’s actually quite simple to get started with creating an AMP story – at least for those with a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, etc. Google provides in-depth tutorials and guidance on working with the format, too, but let the following serve as a quick overview of how an AMP Story would come together.

amp_story_parts

The basic components of an AMP story are individual pages. Those pages are composed of individual layers that contain both basic HTML and AMP elements. Here’s how the code hierarchy might work for the story format:

amp-story-tag-hierarchy2

When executed well from a design and content perspective, the “story” format in general will be appealing to users and could drive significant increases in interaction for publisehrs. Coupled with Google’s support of the approach, it will make the approach that much more appealing to publishers.

Initially, however, expect adoption of the new format to be rather slow. As content management systems start to support it (either natively or through an integration), that will most certainly change. Now, whether Google continues to support the format, is another question entirely.

via: https://www.websitemagazine.com/blog/create-visual-stories-with-google-s-new-amp-format

Persuading Prospects Before the Buy Button

MARTIN GREIF

For many companies, conversion rate optimization occurs exclusively between a product detail page visit and the time a visitor checks out. That is a very dangerous mindset, however, because it fails to take the early and middle stages of the customer journey into account. 

Before users settle in to compare prices on different sites, they have a whole host of actions and places to visit. These early stage actions are a great way to acquire greater brand equity, a wider audience who can convert later on, and trust from those who are nearing the point when they can convert (but are not quite there yet).

Those who win this early stage get a leg up on the late-game-only companies on multiple fronts:

+ It becomes easier for users to click on an actual buy button if they have received good value from a company before. One of the seven principles of influence is reciprocity, and only companies that have bothered with the early stage can expect it from visitors

+ The “all stages” companies have a steady flow of people who can replace those who have already made a purchase, ensuring the well does not dry up

Before the final purchase conversion happens, it is necessary to optimize all the pre-conversion that happens along the way.

Decide on a Model for the Customer Journey

Models for customer journey stages can be powerful as they provide the entire company the same verbiage to use and follow. Some people use AIDA or Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action as a model, and that may be useful even though it misses out on everything that happens after the purchase.

Others use some type of combination between the discovery phase, the evaluation phase, the purchase phase, and the support phase. The exact terms do not matter too much, as long as marketers have a way to tell someone something akin to “that is not a keyword search people will conduct at the discovery phase, that is a purchase phase term.”

Whatever model organizations land on is probably fine, as long as three conditions are present:

+ The phases of the model are not company-centric, they are user-centric. (So, that means top/mid/bottom of the funnel is out of the question as a customer journey model.) It helps to think about user intent rather than the company’s sales funnel for these types of tools

+ Most people in the company understand the phases and can use them for day-to-day decision-making

+ The research, content generation, and calls-to-action (CTAs) are targeted to phases in the model

Think About the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Even before users land on a website, they can have an experience with the brand. To enhance the chances of them actually engaging, those aiming to optimize the conversion process can do a few things:

+ If you are in an industry where rich snippets can be used, do that and enhance the look of search result listings

+ Match the browser page title and meta description to the phase of the journey—if there is a common research phrase in a particular industry, educational page should say something in the title that indicates it is an answer to the question the user is asking

Those responsible for these efforts will know they are doing well when the education-level pages are receiving good click-through rates and driving significant traffic to the website.

Make Educational Content Really Good

Educational pages should match user intent. For instance, if people are looking for battery life on different digital cameras, educational page cannot be a list of battery grips; it has to actually discuss battery life on different cameras.

Do not force late-stage-intent on an early stage visitor; it is not going to work. Instead, provide the information that visitors need for that stage, build authority as users engage with the brand, and provide avenues for two scenarios:

+ For users who are ready in the moment include a callto- action for the next stage in the funnel

+ For those who are not ready provide a “return” vehicle to a site, like an un-gated PDF with more comprehensive information

It will be obvious progress is being made when the educational pages get users to return at a decent rate, and when businesses start seeing a significant number of users download assets meant to drive them back to the web site.

This link back to the web site from the assets should, of course, have campaign parameters. That will enable those optimizing the digital experience to isolate visits from educational efforts of this nature, judge the success rate of the specific assets, and make adjustments as necessary.

Use the Entire Site to Persuade Visitor — Not Just the Product Details Page

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence and Pre-Suasion and all-round trusted name in the persuasion game, says there are seven ways to influence your visitors to perform actions: liking (using verbiage and image selection to match a visitor’s taste), social proof (showing how many times the company has helped someone with a problem), consistency (encouraging smaller, micro-conversion actions), authority (showing badges of large organizations that trust your expertise), reciprocity (giving something away to establish gratitude), unity (showing that you are part of a user’s group) and scarcity (showing that the stock is limited).

Of those seven principles, only scarcity is exclusive to the product details page. The rest should be used across an entire website to make a company’s persuasion game effective.

Businesses will notice that these general persuasion techniques are working when people take pre-conversion actions across the site, so make sure to track the smaller conversions the site has including return rate for those who have seen non-product pages, PDF downloads, form fills or visits.

Putting It All Together

Remember, do not ask for the sale before providing what the user needs.

Businesses can have excellent products and airtight security but still lose out on the sale if they get greedy and only focus on late-stage visitors.

Make sure to optimize the site’s pre-conversion tasks as well. By the time a significant chunk of users get to the product details page, they should be primed to act. That’s the job of non-product content: to make the little persuasion arguments that a business is worth transacting with.

When organizations think about early stage visitors, research their tasks and create content designed to answer their questions, and create actions that will take them to the next stage in the customer journey, they persuade more visitors to act on their site. Martin Greif brings 25-plus years of sales and marketing experience to SiteTuners (host of Digital Growth Unleashed) where he is responsible for driving revenue growth, establishing and nurturing partner relationships and creating value for its broad customer base.

Persuading Prospects Before the Buy Button

MARTIN GREIF

For many companies, conversion rate optimization occurs exclusively between a product detail page visit and the time a visitor checks out. That is a very dangerous mindset, however, because it fails to take the early and middle stages of the customer journey into account. 

Before users settle in to compare prices on different sites, they have a whole host of actions and places to visit. These early stage actions are a great way to acquire greater brand equity, a wider audience who can convert later on, and trust from those who are nearing the point when they can convert (but are not quite there yet).

Those who win this early stage get a leg up on the late-game-only companies on multiple fronts:

+ It becomes easier for users to click on an actual buy button if they have received good value from a company before. One of the seven principles of influence is reciprocity, and only companies that have bothered with the early stage can expect it from visitors

+ The “all stages” companies have a steady flow of people who can replace those who have already made a purchase, ensuring the well does not dry up

Before the final purchase conversion happens, it is necessary to optimize all the pre-conversion that happens along the way.

Tip 1: Decide on a Model for the Customer Journey

Models for customer journey stages can be powerful as they provide the entire company the same verbiage to use and follow. Some people use AIDA or Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action as a model, and that may be useful even though it misses out on everything that happens after the purchase.

Others use some type of combination between the discovery phase, the evaluation phase, the purchase phase, and the support phase. The exact terms do not matter too much, as long as marketers have a way to tell someone something akin to “that is not a keyword search people will conduct at the discovery phase, that is a purchase phase term.”

Whatever model organizations land on is probably fine, as long as three conditions are present:

+ The phases of the model are not company-centric, they are user-centric. (So, that means top/mid/bottom of the funnel is out of the question as a customer journey model.) It helps to think about user intent rather than the company’s sales funnel for these types of tools

+ Most people in the company understand the phases and can use them for day-to-day decision-making

+ The research, content generation, and calls-to-action (CTAs) are targeted to phases in the model

Tip 2: Think About the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Even before users land on a website, they can have an experience with the brand. To enhance the chances of them actually engaging, those aiming to optimize the conversion process can do a few things:

+ If you are in an industry where rich snippets can be used, do that and enhance the look of search result listings

+ Match the browser page title and meta description to the phase of the journey—if there is a common research phrase in a particular industry, educational page should say something in the title that indicates it is an answer to the question the user is asking

Those responsible for these efforts will know they are doing well when the education-level pages are receiving good click-through rates and driving significant traffic to the website.

Tip 3: Make Educational Content Really Good

Educational pages should match user intent. For instance, if people are looking for battery life on different digital cameras, educational page cannot be a list of battery grips; it has to actually discuss battery life on different cameras.

Do not force late-stage-intent on an early stage visitor; it is not going to work. Instead, provide the information that visitors need for that stage, build authority as users engage with the brand, and provide avenues for two scenarios:

+ For users who are ready in the moment include a callto- action for the next stage in the funnel

+ For those who are not ready provide a “return” vehicle to a site, like an un-gated PDF with more comprehensive information

It will be obvious progress is being made when the educational pages get users to return at a decent rate, and when businesses start seeing a significant number of users download assets meant to drive them back to the web site.

This link back to the web site from the assets should, of course, have campaign parameters. That will enable those optimizing the digital experience to isolate visits from educational efforts of this nature, judge the success rate of the specific assets, and make adjustments as necessary.

Tip 4: Use the Entire Site to Persuade Visitor — Not Just the Product Details Page

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence and Pre-Suasion and all-round trusted name in the persuasion game, says there are seven ways to influence your visitors to perform actions: liking (using verbiage and image selection to match a visitor’s taste), social proof (showing how many times the company has helped someone with a problem), consistency (encouraging smaller, micro-conversion actions), authority (showing badges of large organizations that trust your expertise), reciprocity (giving something away to establish gratitude), unity (showing that you are part of a user’s group) and scarcity (showing that the stock is limited).

Of those seven principles, only scarcity is exclusive to the product details page. The rest should be used across an entire website to make a company’s persuasion game effective.

Businesses will notice that these general persuasion techniques are working when people take pre-conversion actions across the site, so make sure to track the smaller conversions the site has including return rate for those who have seen non-product pages, PDF downloads, form fills or visits.

Tip 5: Putting It All Together

Remember, do not ask for the sale before providing what the user needs.

Businesses can have excellent products and airtight security but still lose out on the sale if they get greedy and only focus on late-stage visitors.

Make sure to optimize the site’s pre-conversion tasks as well. By the time a significant chunk of users get to the product details page, they should be primed to act. That’s the job of non-product content: to make the little persuasion arguments that a business is worth transacting with.

When organizations think about early stage visitors, research their tasks and create content designed to answer their questions, and create actions that will take them to the next stage in the customer journey, they persuade more visitors to act on their site. Martin Greif brings 25-plus years of sales and marketing experience to SiteTuners (host of Digital Growth Unleashed) where he is responsible for driving revenue growth, establishing and nurturing partner relationships and creating value for its broad customer base.