Going Mobile Friendly: Save Half Your Traffic Without a Redesign

By Neil Sniffen
4 minute read | Last Updated: May 7, 2016

There is an easy way to make your ecommerce site mobile friendly without a complete overhaul—make it responsive

We all know that mobile is the future of everything.

While this is not a shocking assertion, it is shocking how many ecommerce websites continue to ignore this blatant fact and wait with their heads in the sand for this mobile thing to pass.

But as the latest iPhone update sold 10 million units in its first weekend and with 50 million heading to the shelves for the holiday season, we can continue to be comfortable moving aggressively forward with mobile initiatives.

According to Shopify, 50.3% of ecommerce traffic comes from mobile. This is great news for sites that are able to provide a great mobile experience to their customers. And terrible news for sites that are only desktop friendly.

50.3% of ecommerce traffic comes from mobile Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, too many ecommerce sites still sit in the desktop only ditch. This includes sites that have a separate mobile site (—a separate mobile site typically only offers mobile customers a shadow of the full desktop site’s content. Customers are not particularly keen on a separate site and the chance of them adding “m.” before your domain name is zero unless they are automatically redirected. If the consumer is coming to a brand site, they want the brand site, not an abridged version crammed into a standard mobile theme.

Customers want the brand site, not an abridged mobile version

The solution, then, for many brands appears to be blowing up their site and starting from scratch. This is a solution, but it comes with a hefty price tag that is often prohibitive. Other brands seem content to have a derelict mobile website. This is the same as having a retail store with a locked door.

So what’s a brand to do, especially when they don’t want to do a complete redesign? Here are three options listed from least effective to most effective:

Separate Mobile URL

Upside: Separate mobile URL sites are widely used and familiar to many customers. Mobile URL sites (should) automatically detect the device a customer is using and redirect them to the mobile site if the customer is on a mobile device. These sites typically provide scaled version of the full brand site.

Downside: The brand has (at least) two sites to maintain content (double the work for the marketing and digital team), analytics are difficult to compare, and most mobile experiences are only a brief version of the full site, which annoys customers.

Adaptive Web Design (AWD)

Upside: Presents a custom page to a customer based on the device they are using. Does not require a separate URL. Analytics reporting is unified under one URL.

Downside: For every new mobile device, new screen size, the brand’s web developers must test and modify the site to provide an appropriate experience for the new device. This increases the long-term cost of having and maintaining an AWD site.

Responsive Web Design

Upside: Responsive sites fluidly adjust to whatever screen size (and resolution) a customer is viewing the brand site from, delivering the best experience for the particular screen. One site means only one set of content to manage and analytics reporting is unified under one URL (though it can still be sorted by platform).

Downside: Responsive can have a steeper upfront cost, but that cost is offset by the revenue gained from the site and avoids the need to constantly adjust the experience when new devices appear.

What really sets a brand up for success now and down the road is committing to a responsive site. Bell Helmets chose to make their existing sites responsive. Here’s what happened:

Bell Helmets

Bell experienced a revenue increase of 300%

Bell hired The Good to redesign their ecommerce site with a 2 phase rollout: desktop only first, then responsive. Upon the launch of the new desktop site, Bell experienced an increase of 10% revenue. While 10% was nice, there was a noticeably low conversion of mobile and tablet customers.

After taking their existing site and making it responsive, Bell experienced a revenue increase of 300%.

Though the two phased rollout was an exception to The Good’s normal process of going fully responsive out of the gate, it did provide clear and immediate insight into the importance of multi-device support.

There is a realistic and efficient way to ensure that your brand site is maximizing the revenue from mobile customers. By taking a brand’s existing site and making it responsive, the brand is guaranteeing an increase in customer satisfaction, experience, and brand revenue, without all of the hassle and cost of a complete site overhaul.