Embrace Responsive Design: 5 Best Practices

If your brand has still not embraced responsive design for your website and email, we’ve got some bad news…

You’re in trouble.

Not like go to the principal’s office in trouble, more like you could be losing lots of money in trouble, which for most people is far worse.

The fact of the matter is, mobile has arrived.

It’s no longer something that is predicted to show up in the next few years; it’s here.

The Numbers Behind Mobile Growth

The facts support it.

In March of 2015, mobile only users surpassed desktop only users for the first time.

In May of 2015, Google noted that they get more searches via mobile devices than desktop in ten countries:

And at these times, consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers. In fact, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. This presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to reach people throughout all the new touchpoints of a consumer’s path to purchase.

They have seen such a huge uptick in mobile that they’ve launched a new site: Designing for Mobile Micro Moments that is designed to help brands and marketers create mobile designs that are top of the line.

And when it comes to email, mobile is growing there too.

Take a look at this chart from a March 2016 Litmus study, they’ve found that 55% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. That’s up from 48% only a year ago, in April 2015.

Convinced yet?

The Benefits of Responsive Design (And the Dangers of Ignoring It)

So, just because everyone is jumping on the mobile bandwagon it doesn’t mean you should just embrace responsive design because it’s the cool thing to do (though not a bad idea).

There are actually a number of benefits of responsive design that are going to help your business. In the same way that not being responsive can actually hurt today.

Some of the brands that got burned by the so-called “Mobilegeddon” roll out of 2015 know the feeling.

Here’s one big thing “Mobilegeddon” targeted: search engine ranking results. What this graph shows is the difference between keyword rankings on desktop vs. mobile.

Notice a big difference?

Thought so. What this chart highlights is if your brand is killing it with a handful of targeted keywords on desktop, those same results are quite different on mobile, potentially costing you quite a bit of search engine traffic.

Not good.

To help mitigate that risk, it’s a good idea to understand the benefits of responsive design and how it can help your brand.


The primary benefit of going responsive is usability for your customers and visitors. This should be one of your top priorities, not only because it’s good for the potential bottom line, but because it gives your visitor a much better browsing experience.

Think about the times you’ve tried to access a site from your mobile device and immediately have been turned off because it’s not responsive. Few people today are willing to play around constantly zooming or minimizing a site to try to get it to work on a phone or tablet.

Better usability means a better overall customer experience. Make it easy for users to shop, read, watch, and share right from their mobile devices.

Increased Rankings

As you saw above, rankings on mobile search engines are often showing different results from their desktop counterparts. If you are doing well on desktop results, utilize a responsive design to ensure any keywords you target are also being optimized for mobile.

This is also going to help you with link building. Remember, once you move your site to a responsive one, you still keep all the backlinks and link juice you had before, it never went anywhere. So, all of that content is going to see a little bit of a boost now that it’s mobile.

Reduces Duplicate Content Penalties

Some brands have created not only their standard websites, but also a site that could work for mobile devices. Sounds ok, right? At least they are trying to be responsive so that must count for something?

Not quite, unfortunately. It might have seemed like a good idea, well, until you realize that if you have two sites running with the same content, you’re going to get dinged for duplicate content. With one site, you don’t have to worry about that.

Responsive Design Best Practices

Now that you understand why you need to be going all in on this for your sites, let’s take a look at a couple responsive design best practices your brand can follow.

Quality Experince

Just because your site is going responsive, doesn’t mean that you should strip away everything that makes it look cool and fun for mobile. You want to keep the same high-quality browsing experience for mobile consumers as you would for those who visit via desktops.


Remember, a huge factor in mobile is page load speed. If something doesn’t load quickly, people are much more likely to move on. So, when you’re designing your site, keep in mind not only the types and kinds of visuals you have but their load size, and make the appropriate adjustments.

Prioritize Content

This one is very important, not only for websites but for content like emails and newsletters. What might look great on a desktop could just feel completely wrong on a mobile device. So look at things like the header images, font size, and even icon placement to keep them mobile friendly.

Think Grid

The most successful responsive sites are those that are built with a grid in mind. Using a grid layout is going to let you easily see where your navigation, content, and copy is laid out, and then how to easily shift things around for a better mobile experience. This layout also helps to provide a uniform look.

Always Be Testing

Don’t forget to actually test out your site on your mobile devices, and that doesn’t just mean looking at what it “should” look like on your desktop. Get out your phone and tablet (and ideally a bunch of them) and take a look at every design tweak you do to make sure everything looks good and works well.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, by this point, if your brand is not already using responsive design, you’re ready to take the leap and start doing it. The fact of the matter is, mobile isn’t going anywhere and your customers are going to be using their devices whether you’re ready or not.

So, be ready.

Make your site something that they will love visiting on their mobile devices.

Chances are they are going to be much more engaged, visit more often, and will become loyal customers over time, simply because your site makes it easy for them.

If you haven’t switched over yet, what’s holding you back? If you have, has there been a noticeable difference in your traffic and rankings?

Liz Froment

Liz is a marketing content writer for the Scratch-it team. She loves learning and writing about email marketing. You can find her tweeting about it and a lot more at @lfroment.