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Guest Blog: Adage Technologies on the Pros and Cons of Responsive Design for the Web

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by: Will Schnabel (@wschnabel)
24 June 2013

In today’s technology-driven world, there are multiple channels and platforms available that companies can use to reach their customers. Whether it be a desktop computer, smartphone, tablet or something else, people are interacting with your content in all sorts of ways, giving businesses more avenues to capture valuable information.

One challenge that marketers face today is how to deliver an optimal viewing experience across all these platforms. That is where responsive design comes into play, as it can help solve this problem — though it’s not a cure-all for every situation. In this guest blog, Patrick Emmons, co-founder of Silverpop partner Adage Technologies, discusses the pros and cons of implementing responsive design into your business model.

Patrick EmmonsWith the increase in mobile consumers, companies have to consider their long-term plans and determine where responsive design would fit into their mobile Web strategy. While much debate surrounds the topic, organizations are looking for ways to spend their resources more efficiently and responsive design has helped reach that goal.  

Responsive design is a way to reach all consumers and all their devices in one development cycle. It’s a quick and easy way to “go mobile.” However, there are tradeoffs with this strategy. Devices are built for specific behaviors and managing content on multiple devices quickly adds up in both time and money.

Companies must find the right balance between marketing goals and potential investments. Although responsive design may solve all your problems quickly, it may not be the best way to create innovative user experiences across multiple platforms. In this post, we’re going to look at the different aspects of responsive design for the Web and how you can determine the best approach for your company.

Pros and Cons of Responsive DesignThe Pros and Cons

The most obvious advantage of responsive design is that developers are able to cut costs. By utilizing specific style sheets, a designer can leverage all the same programming to format content to a specific form factor. By doing so, the universal structure on all devices is consistent.

However, since you’re trying to create one solution for multiple scenarios, substantial testing is required. While content might be the same, implementation differs based on device. To ensure the website recognizes and adapts correctly to each device, every scenario and situation must be tested for assurance.

To help offset challenges like this, companies choosing responsive design need to define specific scenarios that  present content in a semitargeted way while ensuring programming is basic enough to work on desktop, mobile, tablets, etc.

Is Added Functionality Worth the Extra Investment?

The key component to being successful with responsive design is to integrate it into your marketing strategy, rather than making it the sole focus of your campaign. The goal of responsive design is to give the most optimal user experience on each device, while doing it at a low cost.  

But what if there’s a specific platform that’s worth the additional allocation of resources? Here is where company leadership must properly weigh cost with ROI.

The LinkedIn app on the iPad is a great example of an organization choosing to spend the additional money for a more innovative user experience. This UI is not something that could be accomplished by utilizing responsive design through a browser. This signifies an investment in adding features that match the behavior and context a user would employ an iPad app.

Clearly, LinkedIn thought it was worth the cost of developing an application that maximizes the usability of iPad form factor. LinkedIn users are invested in Apple’s technology, and the extra investment for functionality is justified.  

Conduct an Internal Evaluation

In short, responsive design is neither the right nor the wrong path, it is simply an option. In fact, for most companies, a hybrid is usually the best way to go. This allows them to limit their investment with responsive design, while at the same time evaluating each platform specifically and determining if a device-specific website is worth the investment. 

Many smart business leaders are using free services like Google Analytics to track the usage on their website and help validate whether a platform-specific app would be right for their customer base.

In the end, it all comes down to finding the best ways to interact and engage your customers. Responsive design is one such strategy, and should be one of the tools in your tool chest. 

Want to learn more about responsive design and how it can fit within your marketing strategy? Send me a tweet @AdageTech.

Adage Technologies helps to deploy Web applications that are not only cost-effective, but also help produce greater ROI as they provide greater Web experiences for your customers. To learn more, visit

Related Resources:
1) White Paper: “Multiscreen Maturation: Email Design Strategies and Tips for Connecting Across Devices
2) Blog: “3 Questions to Drive Your Multiscreen Email Design Decisions
3) Video: “Mobile Context: What to consider when optimizing the mobile experience


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