How to take responsive design even further

Responsive design offers a seamless experience across devices for the consumer, but if a brand wants to truly offer the ultimate customer experience, they are also looking at utilizing site optimization techniques, like A/B testing and personalization. The challenge: Few have done it, and even fewer have shared their experience. If you have a responsive website with four breakpoints, a couple of A/B tests, and personalized content, it can get a little tricky.

Fifteen percent of enterprise websites are already using responsive design. The quick adoption of the single site approach provides a consistent website experience across devices, SEO benefits and the removal of team silos for a more holistic website approach. Optimization and personalization are also on many roadmaps as some of Marketer's highest priorities for the year according to Forrester and eConsultancy. Let's discuss how you can avoid the challenges associated with these compounded tactics and where the opportunity lies.

Optimization and responsive design

What is it?
Optimization is a way to test multiple variations of components on your page, and determine which outcome produces the best results.

Do
Analyze each device on an individual level. As we have long known, user behavior is different across different devices. What works on mobile devices may not work on desktop and visa versa. Ensure that your tests measure the impacts across breakpoints. Luckily, despite early responsive or adaptive design rumors, you can indeed tailor content and layout by screen size.

Don't
Stick to one test at a time until you get some practice. With responsive design, you are already dealing with compounded challenges. If you have three, or perhaps five breakpoints (which is not uncommon), you will have to analyze the changes, purchase paths, and more across each device individually, and holistically.

Personalization and responsive design

What is it?
Dynamically serving relevant messages, offers, products, and design treatment in real-time site experiences based on what we know about an individual.

Do
Personalize by device. The beauty of responsive is that it allows you a single and central place to gather, understand, and execute on information about your customer. Knowing where your customer is, or if they are on the go provides you the ability to deliver hyper relevant information.

Don't
Underestimate the amount of creative variations that will be needed. If you are personalizing images, consider that if your responsive site typically has four different images across three different breakpoints, and you are personalizing against three different segments, you suddenly have twelve images to create. Make sure to plan for the extra design approval time.

Optimization, personalization, and responsive design

Do
Involve your technology and analytics teams from day one of this project and you will find the entire process a lot easier. The amount of dependencies in these projects might surprise you.

Don't
Optimizing and personalizing typically can be done simultaneously but should be done at different sections of the site until a baseline is established.

With strong analytics in place, a responsive design site will provide you the avenue to not only deliver a seamless customer experience, but also to more holistically understand your customer. And by taking it to the next step, you have the ability to turn that data into an even more powerful tool through the application of personalized content across desktop, tablet, and smartphone. In other words, if you have the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time, your customer benefits and so does your site performance.
 
Patrick Collins is the SVP of the customer experience group at Merkle Inc.

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