Is Responsive Web Design Necessary?

SFA Marketing Responsive Web Design Case StudyWith the evolution of technology, we now have a plethora of desktops, tablets, and smartphones that come in a variety of operating systems and sizes. That complexity will only continue to grow.

Responsive web design is a programming technique which allows optimal display of a website on all of these devices while improving mobile SEO.

Importance of a Single URL

You may ask why a single URL matters. Well, if your site is not configured properly with rel=”alternate” and rel=”canonical” tags or has faulty redirects or smartphone-only errors, your site will be penalized in Google’s search results.

In addition, it’s easier for your users to interact and share your content, loading times are reduced without the need for redirects, and efficiency is improved for both your site and web crawlers. All of these reasons are why Google recommends responsive web design.

Backwards Compatibility for Older Browsers

One of my early concerns with incorporating responsive design into our clients’ websites was its compatibility in older web browsers. Particularly, older versions of Internet Explorer which are still widely used.

The chart below, courtesy of, shows CSS3 media query support in various desktop and mobile browsers:

Responsive Web Design Browser Compatibility Chart

In case you are wondering, CSS3 media queries are the main technology that empowers responsive web design.

The Backwards Compatibility Solution

Thanks to Scott Jehl, the creator of Respond.js, there is now a quick, lightweight, JavaScript-based solution for our problem. Respond.js emulates CSS3 media query support for IE 6 – 8 and more.

Unfortunately, not all companies have caught on to this backwards compatibility support. Just the other week, I was presenting responsive design to one of our industrial clients and used GE’s website as an example. As I was resizing the browser to show how it works, GE’s site was not adjusting as expected. Just so happens, the computer in their conference room was using Internet Explorer 8. Not a problem, we opened up our site to demonstrate and it worked perfectly.

Case Study on SFA’s Responsive Website

Using Google Analytics, here are some numbers to show how responsive web design helped increase mobile visits and improved usability for SFA’s site.

Case Study: Responsive Web Design Mobile Visits Graph

6 Months BEFORE the Launch

Mobile  Visits: 150
Mobile  New Visits: 108
Mobile  Pages / Visit: 1.75
Mobile  Avg. Visit Duration: 56 seconds

6 Months AFTER the Launch

Mobile  Visits: 825 ( 450% increase )
Mobile  New Visits: 567 ( 425% increase )
Mobile  Pages / Visit: 2.10 ( 20% increase )
Mobile  Avg. Visit Duration: 2 minutes, 41 seconds ( 186.5% increase )


To answer my original question – Is responsive web design necessary?

If you are concerned with the usability of your website for the fast growing number of smartphone and tablet users or the performance of your site in Google’s organic search results then the answer is a resounding YES.

In addition, responsive design combined with a dedicated Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program is an unbeatable tool for driving quality inbound traffic.

Taken from my previous post, Increasing website traffic:

Driving consistently increasing website traffic is the holy grail of online business development – it is what impacts the awareness / favorability / trust pyramid, as well as purchasing process. There are many strategies that can be utilized to attract visitors, depending on what type of business (consumer, B2B, corporate), products and/or services offered, and target audience(s).

But the most important – and the baseline for success – is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the techniques used to increase visibility in organic search results.

Recently, SFA Marketing was requested to design an involving, visually appealing, highly informational and product-centric website for one of our B2B clients. In addition, the site needed to be flexible enough to accommodate expansion, and include an intuitive navigation that enabled visitors to access any piece of information with no more than “3 clicks.”

Utilizing a range of programming and content development techniques, here is how the new site performed:

 A case study of increasing website traffic for one of our B2B clients

6 Months BEFORE the Launch

Visits: 30,855
Unique Visitors: 23,455
Page views: 101,546
Avg. Visit Duration: 1 minute, 29 seconds
Organic Search Engine Visits: 4,214

6 Months AFTER the Launch

Visits: 78,997 ( 156% increase )
Unique Visitors: 57,280 ( 144% increase )
Page views: 266,053 ( 162% increase )
Avg. Visit Duration: 2 minutes, 46 seconds ( 86% increase )
Organic Search Engine Visits: 48,038 ( 1,172.46% increase )

With the increase in organic search engine visits came an influx of website leads. During the 6 months following the launch of the new website, over 1100 leads were generated.

Check out our other work to find out how we can generate sales for your company.

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