Recently I interviewed Evan Britton from FamousBirthdays.com about their new redesigned website. You’ll find out some of their experiences and strategies when redesigning for mobile devices. It’s interesting to see how they went about the process.
When and why did you decide to go with a responsive design?
We went live with our responsive design 3 weeks ago. We saw that our mobile traffic was growing very fast, but we didn’t have an optimized mobile experience. So, we felt that it was important to make the mobile experience great, so that way, if our mobile traffic continues to climb, our users would be satisfied.
Plus, for the search engines, we felt that as they become more advanced, they will prefer mobile optimized sites, so in addition to our users loving our new responsive design, we felt that the search engines would appreciate it as well.
Did you contemplate whether to design a separate mobile site instead of going with a responsive site?
This use to be a hard decision for website owners. However, finally gave advice on how to handle mobile design. They clearly prefer responsive design over a separate mobile site, so this made our decision much easier.
What were some of the challenges of the project?
There are many challenges. The first is cross browser issues. IE is not very Responsive friendly, but a lot of traffic still comes through IE. So that is something all websites must deal with. The best advice there is to focus on IE8, and IE9 and maybe IE7. Anything below IE7, I wouldn’t worry about because there isn’t much traffic there and it could complicate the design process further.
Another major challenge our ads. Ads don’t respond as well as content – so it can be difficult to deal with. But if you are an ad supported site, it’s something you must prioritize – but it can cause headaches.
Lastly, testing. Once you are ready to go live, testing must be done to ensure that the responsive works across a variety of browsers and screen resolutions. The most stressful part about testing comes when you fix a bug which you noticed on a browser or a screen size, but by fixing it – you end up breaking something else. The testing process can feel like a Rubik’s Cube!
Have you seen an increase in mobile traffic? or any other success since switched the site to a responsive design?
We have noticed improvements in several mobile metrics since launching our Responsive Site which has been great to see. The biggest improvement has been time on site. Now that we have an optimized mobile experience, people are staying on the site longer because it is easier for them to consume our content and click around to other content on our site. We also have enjoyed an increase in page views per visit which of course correlates with the Time on Site metric.
Overall, a responsive design has many key advantages. Our team only has to worry about managing one site, because everything lives at the same place. This eliminates complications, as we can innovate and grow our content and technology without having to concern ourselves with what is happening at multiple URLS. Plus, social media is much more effective. For instance, I clicked on a link to our site on Twitter from my iPhone and I landed on our responsive mobile experience, but when I clicked that same link from a desktop – I am on the desktop version.
If you have mobile traffic – this is certainly something to consider, because as mobile traffic grows, the responsive design will be there all along the way…