Responsive web design is not a long-term solution to mobility

AppIconSource:  Forrester Report published Feb 2, 2014

With responsive Web design projects proving more complex than expected while still lacking the ability to leverage key mobile functionality, the answer to how to efficiently deliver experiences across multiple devices is still forthcoming, according to a report released today by Forrester.

The survey forming the basis of the report found that 63 percent of companies using responsive Web design today believe it is not suitable for long-term use. With many companies looking for ways to address the significant growth in mobile traffic to their Web assets, the report suggests that responsive delivery and HTML5 may be better long-term solutions.

One of the biggest things that came out of this was that responsive Web design was viewed by the majority of the respondents as a tactical short-term solution.   They do not view responsive Web design as a long-term strategic answer to mobility.

Simpler solutions needed
The report is based on a survey of 146 United States-based companies across a range of industry sectors evaluating the results of various leading mobile development and deployment strategies. A key finding was that a responsive Web design approach and use of HTML5 were tied as the most frequently-used techniques, with 43 percent using responsive Web design and 45 percent HTML5.

However, the report uncovered some issues with responsive Web design.  One of the main issues with responsive Web design is that it requires the code for a company’s existing Web assets to be completely rewritten, making the project more complex than some expected.  Key findings from the report include that more than 70 percent of the cost, time and effort in responsive Web design projects is spent on the back-end recoding APIs, middleware, integration and infrastructure.

The survey also found 37 percent of respondents had to cut the scope of their responsive Web design projects in order to be able to deliver them on budget. Responsive Web design also does not meet many companies’ needs on the front-end. It is actually difficult to take advantage of mobile-specific features like geo-location, the camera or promotional programs using push notifications.

Longer-term benefits

Going forward, the report recommends responsive delivery as a way to unify experiences across touch points. It also underscores the ongoing importance of HTML5 for building mobile app experiences. By leveraging existing Web assets for both mobile sites and apps and eliminating the need for Web site rewrites, responsive delivery can help improve performance and allow organizations to take advantage of mobile-specific features, thereby providing more strategic, longer-term benefits.

Responsive Web design has a lot of mind share with marketers right now, and I think that once they get through this first wave of projects, they are going to realize that they need something else. Businesses are after a way to unify their desktop, Web and app strategies under one umbrella.

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