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Selling responsive web design

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort doing my best to sell responsive web design. Believe it or not, not everyone is on-board with it. It’s not an end-all solution, I know that, but there’s no reason not have your site be responsive. It’s the way you build web sites now and anyone (or firm) that thinks otherwise is not going to last. But responsive web design (RWD) is not an easy sell.

Responsive design does cost a lot more up front. More planning time, more design time needed before a line of code is written. RWD tries to serve many devices in one shot so this also means you can’t change one thing without effecting all the others, which is a risk and a pain.

If telling your client or company that RWD means they get a “mobile” web site and “desktop” in one shot and that still doesn’t sell them on it, try this – people use Facebook/Twitter and check their email on their phone. That argument might sound stupid but it’s true, and it’s something everyone knows without a needing a ton of data to back it up. Even the suits you’re trying to convince do all that on their phones (or tablets).

Social sharing is your ace in a the hole

When someone checks Facebook, Twitter or their email on a non-desktop device and clicks on a link that their friends have shared, it opens a web browser on that device – it doesn’t launch an app. And what happens when that destination web site doesn’t display properly on their phone/tablet? Well, that’s hard to say exactly but chances are the person gives up and leaves. They might come back…maybe…but if you can convert that person right there and then, why not? And that’s why RWD needs to be the standard when designing and building a web site.

This isn’t to say you can’t have a native app too, they have their advantages and they can easily fit into a revenue model. You could also rely on having separate code bases for your desktop and mobile web sites, using the server to sniff out device specs, but why would you want to limit yourself? RWD doesn’t care about device, just size, so you have far more control over how your site displays on a device. Will your web server be able to accurately sniff the browser on your car’s dashboard? I know, that’s an extreme example but you never know.

Of course, the one thing that will derail any argument for RWD is a poor (or non-existent) web strategy. Unless you have some sway or someone’s ear, it seems most places haven’t figure out how to sell RWD to the the paying customers (ie, ad revenue). There’s a lot of overhead for a sales team when talking about RWD and often that will be the biggest wrench in your gears. Doing your best to guide them and help come up with a plan is all you can do.

However, regardless of your sales staff’s competency, responsive web design is just the right way to do things.

Originally posted on Aug 5, 2013

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