The Benefits and Drawbacks Of Responsive Design For an Ecommerce Website

You will often hear web marketing services speak highly about the significance of adopting a responsive web design in e-commerce and for a good reason. Just like everything else, however, it has its own pros and cons both of which need to be weighed carefully before making a significant investment in time and money.

One of the first things business owners need to understand about responsive web design is that it is not just a fad but a real response to the need for websites to service users across a wide range of internet-enabled devices in an effective and scalable manner. In 2013, only 7.8 of websites on the IR 500 used a responsive web design. Today, more and more businesses implement responsive web design to keep pace with the surge of mobile retail commerce revenue worldwide which was worth $1.36 billion in 2017 and expected to reach $3.56 billion by 2021 -- data according to "Statista".

We can expect to see the majority of e-commerce websites going responsive in the coming years. In the meantime, the question of whether you should invest in responsive web design for your e-commerce website now or later is something that you will have to evaluate carefully. You can start by understanding the pros and cons of a responsive design.

Making a case for a responsive web design
One for all

Responsive design works off of a single URL and one set of HTML code as opposed to maintaining 2 or more code bases. Hence you can make updates to your website in one fell swoop which streamlines upkeep and ensures that users have access to the latest content no matter what device they are using to access your site.

Mobile-specific sites require redirects, which can be neglected when different marketing departments develop customized landing pages for various projects. Responsive ensures that all emails, search, display ads social links and affiliate pages show up as mobile-friendly.

Having a responsive web design likewise carries SEO advantages as your mobile site will be able to take advantage of the link graph you have acquired for your domain. Also, it is no secret that Google loves responsive websites as it means less work for Googlebot to crawl and index your site. Google strongly recommends getting a responsive web design although they won't penalize you for not doing so -- yet. The landscape can change in an instant which is why internet marketing services often recommend going responsive as early as possible.

User experience

Responsive websites tend to deliver better user experience as they can be tailored to adapt to a particular device. UX designers do not necessarily have to match the desktop experience and are free to remodel the site to work best with mobile users.

Take note however that users who have become accustomed to accessing your website on a computer may have trouble navigating your mobile site if the latter if it is drastically different from the desktop version. Hence, some degree of consistency is well worth considering.

What are the downsides to responsive web design?
Slow page loading speed

Having gone over the advantages of responsive web design, it is hard to imagine that there are any downsides to hold you back. Still, the fact remains that there are cons about the matter that you would do well to consider. For one thing, there is the disadvantage of responsive design with the most significant impact on user experience concerning site efficiency.

Mobile-only websites can be stripped down to bare bones HTML but that is not the case for a responsive website. Browsers will need to read data from the universal HTML file including the ones that are not applicable to mobile users, not to mention the procedure guidelines to avoid specific scripts, CSS and media (more code).

Slow loading web pages can impact conversion rates, customer satisfaction and loyalty, and even search rankings. While it is inarguably the biggest weakness of responsive web design, it does not mean that responsive websites have to be slow. What we are trying to say is that efficiency should take priority over aesthetics. In most case, it is better to start from scratch rather than attempt to update an existing website.


Because of its intricacy, responsive design tends to cost a heck of a lot more. It's not as basic as crafting mockups in Photoshop and handing them over to a developer. UX designers need to re-architect a site that pleases the needs of users on various devices and orientations that can serve them with a single HTML file. Such a feat is no simple matter and must be accomplished in such a way that development and style complement each other perfectly at every point.

Ironically, it is the largest IR websites that may find switching over to a responsive web design cost prohibitive. While a small e-commerce website can get a responsive website for a few thousand dollars, top IR 500 companies Amazon, Apple and Dell undoubtedly poured millions redesigning their website.


Because responsive style can decrease a site's efficiency, there's a danger of reduced conversion. There's also a risk that conversion enhancement isn't adequate to offset the expense of redesign on the front-end. While responsive can be A/B checked with tools that support client-side adjustments, it's tough to check the ROI while engaged in web redesign and development. For many e-commerce businesses, the change is a risk they cannot afford to make and would rather wait-and-see until the restructuring becomes worth their while.

So there you go - the pros and cons of adopting a responsive web design for your e-commerce website. Whatever you decide, the important thing is that you know what you are getting into.

Copyright © All Rights Reserved