by Marc Schmitt
It was an astonishing success story: When US tie shop SkinnyTies.com relaunched its website in October 2012, sales simply exploded. The E-retailer had taken a full year to develop a new responsive web design. In the first six months after the relaunch, sales via smartphones and tablets increased by an incredible 211 per cent. SkinnyTies.com is therefore a shining example of how optimized user experience can translate into positive sales numbers for a company.
German enterprises are increasingly adjusting their websites to responsive design. The reason is obvious: More than 40 million Germans use smartphones, more than 26 million own a tablet device – and the share of mobile surfing is constantly on the rise. The user could sit with his laptop at his desk at home, with his tablet in the metro or with his smartphone at a soccer match: Each time accessing the website with a different device in an entirely different environment. Responsive web design therefore is based on flexible layouts that adapt to the available display resolution. Texts, videos, images and navigation are scaled accordingly. Companies not only benefit from easier customer navigation. But there is less editorial effort compared to having separate websites for the different devices. Moreover, Google explicitly encourages using RWD because it improves user experience. This is rewarded by Google with higher positions in the search engine ranking. Recently, the Californian company even started to mark “mobile-friendly” websites in their search results.
Of the 10,000 most popular websites, 18.7 per cent have already adopted responsive web design, according to a study of US cloud provider Akamai. In the Top 100 this number notably sinks to 11.8 per cent. One reason could be the costs of changing to RWD, which increase with the size of the website. Furthermore, small companies can act with higher agility than big businesses, where decision-making processes naturally take a little longer. Still, a look at the websites of leading German enterprises reveals that RWD is advancing there too. Chemical producer BASF introduced the relaunch of its website in November 2014: With RWD the company promises “intuitive and quick access to all contents” to customers. Previously, insurance company Allianz and consumer goods group Beiersdorf (Nivea) had already established RWD – just like Germany’s biggest soccer club FC Bayern München.
Two more websites that went dynamic in December 2014 are baywa.de and baywa.com. On behalf of Munich trading group BayWa, Aquarius relaunched the company’s website. The result is a flexible web design that custom fits the screen sizes of different devices – uniformly and in the Baywa Look & Feel. Modern, clearly structured and user-friendly: this is how the new BayWa websites present themselves.