Responsive design considerations and impact on website analytics
July 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM
by Mikul PatelDigital Marketing Consultant at Matraxis
Responsive web design (RWD) has seen a lot of attention recently, Mashable declared 2013 to be the year of responsive design, but before you go embarking on a complete redesign of your website, web designers and content creators need to consider a variety of implications. In this blog I will cover some of the main considerations, particularly website analytics and understanding how users interact with your website.
What is the difference between a responsive and mobile designed site?
A site that uses RWD relies on using only one layout style that is fluid and adapts to a change in screen size. A mobile optimised site is designed specifically for mobile resolutions and can contain different content compared to the desktop version. Also a mobile site may be placed on a different sub-domain e.g. m.yourdomain.co.uk or mobile.yourdomain.co.uk.
By only working from one template, RWD eliminates the overhead of separately managing multiple sites optimised for multiple devices. You can test a website for RWD by simply resizing the browser to mimic using a mobile device. An excellent list of RWD sites can be found at http://mediaqueri.es/
Responsive design considerations
Switching to RWD is not as simple and using a pre-made template and hoping for it to work out-of-the-box. Just some of the extra considerations include:
- Image and media content optimisation
- Device orientation for horizontal and vertical viewing
- The positioning of proportion-based grids for holding content
- Client and server-side loading of page items
- Uniformed design styling
One argument against RWD is the noticeable increase in page loading times even if you view content on a smaller screen compared to a desktop browser.
Measuring usage with website analytics
Analytics packages such as Webtrends make it easy to separately measure your sites especially if you have a separate mobile site. By having a responsive site, you will have a mixture of browser and mobile device statistics when it comes to analysing your reports. This may skew some of your results as the positioning of page elements differ when using RWD.
One way to avoid this could be to create separate individual profiles and filter by device screen resolution. Webtrends makes this easy and you can compare profiles against each other. For Google Analytics, you can achieve something similar by creating custom segments against device name.
TIP: If you look at your Mobile Devices analytics report and see a noticeable difference in visit duration and bounce rate between visits from desktop and mobile/tablet, you may want to consider a RWD or mobile optimised site.
Matraxis are independent specialists in web analytics and helping organisations to get the most out of their website and digital campaigns. If you would like more information about analytics and understanding your website visitors in greater details, please get in contact with us today!
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