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Monday, February 25, 2013

RWD – A Life Jacket for Our Future Survival

Monday, February 25, 2013
Image Courtesy: Frogsiders

I recently attended a webinar on “Responsive Web Design (RWD) for eCcommerce” conducted by a Philadelphia based interactive agency in association with Magento. This has truly inspired me to share my experience and observations on multi-screen web with all of you.  Overall the webinar was good but the virtual event made me inquisitive to explore more.

Today, RWD is at very nascent stage, and to be honest, there is no best practice for developing a responsive ecommerce portal. It’s all about understanding the context of a business, device-based audience, and users’ experience across multiple devices.  

A RWD per se is not PERFECT. Pros and cons are always there for any new solution that advancement of technology brings in. However, we need to audit the risks and rewards.

RWD is a future proof of any investment whether made by an agency or by a company or by a client. Today, we have a choice –whether we are ready for it or we are not. But tomorrow, we got to go for it sans any option.

A typical customer purchase decision on digital media is a Zero Moments of Truth (ZMOT). Three major devices such as Tablet, Smart Phones, and Desktop (Laptop) shape a user’s decision to make purchase online.  According to Google, % of users searching on a mobile device makes purchase on another. New York Times shares stats of a study that says 61% visiting a non-mobile friendly website are likely to go to a competitor site. Oh, who cares of stats, for many stats is like a bikini hiding only essentials, right? Don’t go by statistics, but go by what we see around us, and how we use multiple device we have for our personal, and professional use. We don’t even use single device when doing research online or make purchase, do we? C’mmon, be realistic!

RWD is a strong platform for mCommerce that we are talking until now. Responsive web provides a strong infrastructure for mobile commerce, the next generation of commerce. Without RWD, mCommerce boom can never take place. 

Undoubtedly, RWD benefits mostly end users accessing content on multiple screens/devices.  I have also observed that news portals like Boston Globe and many corporate sites are the early adopters while the adoption rate for RWD among merchants for eCommerce is relatively low.  The reason is simple.  There are unique challenges in designing and developing a responsive ecommerce site. It is all about understanding the business ‘context’ that depends on the skill-set of a resource. While content (text) driven sites such as news portals clearly see benefits, merchants for e-stores are still considering to capitalize this. In short, RWD ecommerce is in ‘Consideration Phase’ while news and content driven are the early adopters.

Nevertheless, a few store retailers/merchants have made their portals responsive facing off all challenges, and despite resource constraints. And many more are embracing this as an opportunity to give a great buying experience to their customers. After all, who wants to keep audience unhappy?  Kudos to them, these merchants have set example for many of us. 

In summary, RWD is a future friendly, but SMBs need to wait a few months before they jump in the pond without knowing how to swim. At this point of time, they need to provide “swimming training” to their resources for developing ecommerce portals rather than asking them to jump in a pond to be drowned. The management must invest in training of internal resources to scale their skills, and thereby hedging the future risk, for it’s the life jacket for the survival of any SMBs being in web design & development.    

True, we can’t predict the future. Be in the present, be realistic!  
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