The Business Case for Responsive Web Design

Smartphone with an image of a dollar sign on the screenWe’ve talked a lot about how mobile strategy is changing. We’ve examined why mobile is so important and how changes in Web access is leading to the need for responsive sites. We’ve discussed how responsive web design works and given tips for constructing content in responsively designed sites. We’ve even created an awesome video to introduce responsive design concepts.

Now let’s put all this together into the overall business case for creating a responsive site.

Why Responsive?
One out of every four visitors to many health system sites come from mobile devices. Ignoring your mobile audience isn’t an option. You need to create a mobile site for your visitors, and responsive sites offer some real advantages:

  • Optimal experience for all users: Sixty percent of mobile visitors leave sites that don’t work well on their device. Responsive sites give visitors the content they want regardless of the device they use. The site works equally well on all devices.
  • Search engine optimization: Health topics continue to be one of the most popular searches. Google understands mobile searchers want sites that work on mobile devices, so they prioritize mobile-optimized sites in search results. Compared to dedicated mobile sites, where different URLs and duplicate content are the norm, responsive sites preserve the value of inbound links and avoid duplicate content penalties.
  • Improved conversion rates for mobile: When sites work better for users and offer all of the functionality of your traditional website, your calls to action will be more effective.

But it’s also important to understand that amidst all the excitement, there are some additional costs to “going responsive.” These costs are a result of some back-end complexity, such as:

  • Design: Responsive sites use several coordinated designs, representing some common screen sizes along with plans on how the site adjusts between these anchor dimensions. In addition, the information architecture and navigation is more complex to ensure that the site is navigable on mobile devices.
  • Templating: Templating is more complex. You need templates that respond to various screen sizes as well.
  • Testing: To be honest, you should be testing your site on mobile devices. But since your traditional website likely doesn’t functional well on most mobile devices, you’re probably not bothering.

Resultant additional cost – design and template development costs 50-100% more when creating a responsive site than a typical website.

Other Options?
If you don’t utilize responsive design, then you need another option for reaching your mobile audience. The alternative is to create one or more dedicated mobile sites. But this can also become expensive. In fact, creating a responsive site can result in cost savings when compared to multiple dedicated mobile sites because:

  • Multiple mobile sites require multiple site designs and construction. Because these sites tend to be light on design, this only offsets a portion of the incremental costs of responsive.
  • Dedicated mobile sites require all of the same testing as the responsive site.
  • Each dedicated mobile site requires its own copy of the content. Factoring in the costs of duplicate content entry and maintenance during setup and over time adds to the cost too.

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?
What’s it worth to have your site work better for one in four visitors? (Which could be two in four by next year.) Your hospital’s website likely brings in millions of dollars in direct online payments, cost savings, and patient revenues every year. Today, most of that value isn’t available to the fastest growing segment of your online audience.

Maybe the real question isn’t if the value of responsive design outweighs the costs today, but how long before it gets there? Watch our webinar Connecting with the Growing Mobile Audience to learn more about responsive design and if it’s right for your organization.

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This entry was posted in Design, Mobile, User Experience by Ben Dillon. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Dillon

It’s not just Ben’s sultry radio-voice that makes him the perfect person to be Geonetric’s eHealth Evangelist, although we do believe that increases attendance to our webinars. It’s the fact that Ben’s a thought leader. He follows healthcare technology trends like other people follow sports teams. He’s constantly researching and analyzing everything from social media strategies to accountable care organizations and determining what it all means to Geonetric, our clients and the industry as a whole. This sought-after speaker and current SHSMD board member wasn’t always in the spotlight, previously working in business process re-engineering and software development with the University of Iowa Healthcare and the Michigan Insurance Bureau. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa. If you saw this man’s calendar you’d be very surprised to learn that in between all his trade rag interviews and speaking engagement prep he still finds time to feed his Twitter addiction and play the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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