Responsive design is no longer an innovative alternative to traditional website creation: The rise of multiple devices and platforms has made it a necessity for brands catering to large, diverse audiences. Many companies have already converted their websites to a one-size-fits-all solution, increasing efficiency and appeal at an attractive price.
But some brands remain resistant to the new technology, despite consequences that can hurt their digital potential. If you continue to run a website without responsive design, your performance is suffering, whether you realize it or not. Here are some of the most common negative effects you might not even know you're facing:
1. Less Referral Traffic
Referrals are a vital source of traffic for websites, and they come from a variety of channels. Not all channels are hurt by the lack of a responsive solution, but several are — and the hurt can be big. Organic search referrals are the first thing to take a hit. Because Google strongly recommends responsive design, as Marketing Tech Blog reports, forgoing this solution could impact your page ranking. Even a minor downgrade in ranking prominence can curb traffic significantly.
If you've never had a responsive solution, you probably aren't aware that you're operating at a disadvantage — but it's holding back your online performance all the same.
2. Higher Bounce Rates
A high bounce rate can happen for any number of reasons, many of them associated with a lack of responsive design. Page load speeds are the most common problem: When websites have slow load times, or even when some elements of a website take time to appear, users get frustrated and bounce before engaging with the site.
You may be able to dress up your website and make it look prettier, but you can't solve problems with your page load speeds easily without switching to something responsive.
3. Damaged User Experience
Though it's sometimes hard to quantify, the user experience is critical to a brand's digital performance. A lack of cohesion can damage that experience, particularly for companies managing an audience across multiple platforms. Website features that don't fit neatly together, a messy or disjointed appearance, slow-loading features and poor formatting across devices may all negatively affect a customer's experience with your site — and responsive design can address all these issues.
4. Reduced Conversions
In some ways, this is a product of the negative consequences already mentioned. Decreases in online traffic, increases in bounce rates and an unsatisfying user experience are all sure to impact conversions — and not in a good way. But, a lack of responsive design can also hurt conversions in ways independent from these factors. A slower site speed, for one, can discourage would-be conversions from the checkout process, costing you transactions that a responsive solution would have facilitated.
In 2015, the responsive approach to website design continues to build momentum as the prevailing solution. Brands don't have to invest in this opportunity — but if they don't, they'll have to be ready to face the resulting challenges.