This interview with Josh Miles of Miles Design is part of the Convirza Webinar Series. The following is the Q&A portion of the interview.
McKay: Here’s a couple of good question. In terms of types of businesses, I guess the biggest question people want to ask you are when do you know if your business is ready to pursue responsive web design? Is there a certain type of business that you should pursue it first? How do you know? What’s your general rules for when you know you are ready or not?
Josh: That’s a great question. I think going back to one of those early slides, I think just simply breaking down your analytics and looking at what are those device types and browser types that are viewing my site today and which one is the greatest percentage? Is it heavy Android use?
And if so, let’s take a look at what our site and what our experience looks like on an Android device. Is it clean? Is it simple? Can people figure it out? Are they having to zoom in really far to the text to figure this out? I think that will start telling you a lot about if the timing is right for you.
I think as far as industries go, I think its maybe less of an industry question and more of a prospect question. So if you are in E-commerce business, this seems like a no brainer to me. So if somebody like Nixon who is already doing a great amount of e-mail, it’s a no brainer for them to have a really great responsive site checking out watches or doing something on your coach at night on a tablet.
It only makes sense that works smoothly for me. I think this applies just as much in any business-to-business case, especially if you are doing any level e-mail marketing.
McKay: What was the statistic you had – you said this at the very start of the webinar and I didn’t catch it and maybe some other folks didn’t as well, but you had a data point about the number of people that opened e-mails on their mobile devices or something to that effect. You remember that number you threw out there Josh?
Josh: I do. I’ve been using the number 50% and I think depending on which e-mail service provider’s research you are looking at, most of them are between the high thirties and low sixties of percent of opens that happen on mobile device and again, that’s going to be really aggregated over the course of different verticals and different industries. So just like the analytics thing, I think go back in and look at your e-mail service provider’s data on your list. How much of your list and your audience is viewing your e-mail on mobile device and how much of it is happening on just tablet?
McKay: Great. That’s good information. Here are a couple of more questions Josh. So what is the typical time commitment to turn one site to a responsive site? How long does the process take? So how does somebody get started?
Josh: So a couple of interesting things. One, if you are in the mindset of a website re-design in the first place, adding a responsive to the process may add a few days, a few weeks, a few months. Kind of just depends on the breadth of your website.
I would say for a typical 50 to 75 page professional services website for us, responsive might add a week or two at most. A lot of that is just in troubleshooting different elements, because we wouldn’t typically just use the grid and let things fall where they make. We are going to want to troubleshoot and really tie in which elements we want to show where and how we want people to interact on each device? That actually is what adds the time. It’s not so much creating a responsive site so much as troubleshooting and tweaking out the e-mails.
McKay: Great, here’s another question. This one is from Lindsey. She says “Is it better to do at the beginning rather than a whole re-vamp to do it? Or should you – if you haven’t done anything to your site in a while and don’t plan on it, should you attack a responsive web design project or is it better to wait until you are going to re-design the whole thing and start from scratch?
Josh: No, that’s a good question. I think it depends on what stage you are – this is really geeky, it depends on what state you are in. So if a front end developer can get in there and if you are already using WordPress, you’ve already got a great content management system that’s serving public data, really you are just talking about re-slicing the HTML to work in a responsive format and you are not talking about something that has to be a wholesale re-development of your site. It’s really more of a front-end function.
It could be worthwhile if you are not planning to re-design that whole site any time soon. Maybe this would be a great baby step to avoid to drag some more conversion on your current site.
McKay: The other question that we are curious about is obviously your expertise is in responsive web design, but also in branding, given the title of your book and some of the things you have written and what not. How does this whole idea of responsive web design play into the branding of a company and the perception customers have of that company? It’s kind a broad question, but I’m curious about your response.
Josh: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. So for us and for probably most people who consider themselves branding people, we see every touch point and interaction with your prospects as a great opportunity to either build up your brand or have a not so hot experience. So again just playing a numbers game, if you’ve got a lot of prospects that are viewing your site on mobile and it’s not such a hot experience, I think that’s ultimately going to give people a not so great opinion of your brand, whereas being on a site that is just seamless regardless of the device.
If I want to interact with your site, I’m more about you when I’m on the sofa at home or when I’m on my mobile device waiting for meetings to start. That’s really just going to build up my opinion of how you operate as a company and make me feel better about your brand. I can hear people — almost hear their eyes rolling. I’m not going to feel better about you just because your website worked. I think there’s maybe more clearly office set problem which is your website didn’t work when I wanted to use it, so now I don’t feel so great about your brand.
McKay: A couple more questions Josh, before we conclude. In terms of the effectiveness of responsive web design for different businesses, is there a level of priority that you would place on tablets versus phones, what’s the process like I guess? Well people say I want it for tablets because we are getting a lot from iPads versus Androids. What’s the process there? How does one just begin the process of starting to decide and can they choose before they want to begin and end? How does that whole process work? I’m not a very technical guy so that may be a poor way to ask the question that people are asking online, so I apologize.
Josh: Sure, no that’s a great question. I think if you have our site built on a responsive grid and really that’s all you did. You just pushed out into the default grid, you would have certain fall backs that work just sort of buy themselves, so maybe you want to invest more time in dialing that mobile device first.
Maybe just let tablet and other odd devices fall where they do, where they may and until that time, you get more energy or resources available to invest in those, but I think if I were going to tackle just one element of responsive beyond the desktop, it would definitely be the mobile device, especially if you think about iPad or some of the other large tablet devices.
Most websites in their standard view are pretty usable, in a tablet view, so it’s not the end of the world if it’s not responsive. I think one of the most obvious things that you will see really quickly comparing a responsive site and a non-responsive site head to head on your phone is frankly just the text size. So if you look at – again go to our current site, milesdesign.com.
Open that up on your phone you will see the text is really tiny, you really have to pinch out to get and to read the copy. If you pull that Microsoft, you’ve got nice big copy that is easy to read. You don’t feel like you have to pull it up to your eyes or pinch to read stuff. So I think if I were going to tackle just one thing, I would maybe tackle the mobile device.
McKay: Great. That’s good. Good answer. Then finally, I want to piggyback on something Josh you said a moment ago and at the start of the webinar about how this is useful for B2B companies as well. I mean we are a B2B company, right?
We sell to other businesses, marketing firms as well and user clients in the professional services world and other verticals and we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people visiting our site from mobile devices and tablets, so it’s not just the B2C thing. Businesses are looking on their devices, whether it’s at home in the evening or what have you, for websites that they need to buy services from for their business. It’s not just a B2C concern. Would you agree with that, Josh?
Josh: Oh yeah, absolutely. Actually, one of the very first responsive sites that we did was for a company here in Indianapolis called Blue Rock. Blue Rock is a cloud computing company, which is about B2B company as they get. They sell IT to IT guys, and the Cloud.
So if you check out bluerock.com, that site went live almost a year ago to the day, so it was one of the initial responsive sites that we did. It’s very much B2B, it’s very friendly and easy to use and very high content driven. I think that’s a good example of how this applies very directly to B2B and not just B2C.
McKay: Awesome. Josh, thank you very much for your time. Any last words or last thoughts for the crew here?
Josh: Well, McKay, thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed talking to your audience here about responsive website design. When it comes to challenges like this, I just like to think back to the great philosopher Yoda who said “Do or do not. There is no try.”