Responsive design, like any new technology or technique, does not necessarily increase conversion.
This is because when practicing Web optimization, you are not simply optimizing a design; you are optimizing a customer’s thought sequence. In this experiment, we discovered the impact responsive design has on friction experienced by the customer.
Background: A large news media organization trying to determine whether it should invest in responsive mobile design.
Goal: To increase free trial signups.
Research Question: Which design will generate the highest rate of free trial sign-ups across desktop, tablet and mobile platforms: responsive or unresponsive?
Test Design: A/B multifactorial split test
The Control: Unresponsive design
During an initial analysis of the control page, the MECLABS research team hypothesized that by testing a static page versus an overlay for the free trial, they would learn if visitors were more motivated with a static page as there is no clutter in the background that might cause distraction.
From this, the team also theorized that utilizing a responsive design would increase conversion as the continuity of a user-friendly experience would improve the customer experience across multiple devices.
The design for the control included a background image.
The Treatment: Responsive design
In the treatment, the team removed the background image to reduce distraction and implemented a responsive design to enhance user experience across all devices.
Experiment side by side
The Results: How does responsive design impact conversion?
The responsive design outperformed the control by a relative difference of 56.41%. When we reviewed the control and treatment data across desktop, mobile and tablet devices, here’s what we found:
Free trial sign-ups from desktop and tablet sources increased with the responsive design, however, mobile traffic did not.
What you need to understand
As I mentioned in the opening, responsive design is a limited solution to optimizing the customer experience as its focus is primarily a design solution concerned with size and scale.
Sure, I anticipate some controversy, but responsive design can’t live in a vacuum. It’s not a Hail Mary for optimizing your business online and there are no sacred cows here.
While it may improve the customer experience to a degree, it does not necessarily account for the full scale of changes occurring in the minds of our customers.
Why should it?
That’s not why responsive design was created.
Understanding the true scope of user impact requires you to think outside the idea of responsive design by itself. You have to think about your customers, and if you’re really good – think like them.
You should consider not only how a responsive design will render across a customer’s desktop, tablet and mobile devices, but rather, consider how a customer’s perception of those design changes will affect their decisions.
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