Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adaptive Web Design vs. Responsive Web Design

Great post from the Bear Creek Web Blog on Adaptive vs Responsive Mobile Web Design.  Very thorough:

It's official: the Age of Mobile has arrived. Last year, 58% of smartphone users engaged in multiple online sessions per day on their mobile devices. With so many people using their smartphones to access mobile content repeatedly throughout the day, businesses no longer have the luxury of asking "if" they should implement a mobile website.
Instead, the question becomes "how" to implement a mobile website, and the best way to do so successfully. There are two main strategies when it comes to mobile website development: adaptive web design and responsive web design.
While there are some who view these terms interchangeably, in reality they are quite different from one another, each having its own pros and cons. In this post, we'll explore the basics of good mobile web design, and how adaptive web design and responsive web design handle these fundamental requirements.

The Goals of Effective Mobile Web Design

It goes without saying that effective mobile website design is user friendly, but what do we mean by that? At its most basic, effective mobile design must accomplish three broad goals:
  1. Informational: It must provide the visitor with the expected information.
  2. Navigational: It must provide the user with expected options.
  3. Usability: It must provide the user with expected functionality.
The ways in which to accomplish these goals may vary, but the desired end result is always the same – an easy-to-use site that gives the visitor the right information and the ability to take meaningful action once the information is found.
The Responsive Web Design Approach
Responsive web design is so named because it "responds" to the browser the website visitor is using. By defining various breakpoints in browser size, the layout will change to suit the available space. Responsive web design is best-suited to informational pages, and is often used when website owners need a fast way to make their site mobile. 
The Adaptive Web Design Approach
By contrast, adaptive web design requires the use of server-side technology and is a bit more complex. The adaptive website will detect the user's device, and present different versions of the site based on the type of device being used – for example, a cellphone versus a laptop computer.
This approach requires a greater investment of resources, but provides additional benefits over responsive design such as:
  1. A faster experience with loading optimized for the device
  2. Better functionality integration, such as use of touchscreen gestures and common apps such as mapping or click-to-call.
For adaptive web design to be most effective, developers need to conduct careful planning around the needs and expectations of users who are browsing the site from different devices, and create sites that address these needs directly.

Which to Choose?

While both responsive design and adaptive design provide a better mobile experience to users, adaptive web design offers a tighter integration between user expectations and available functionality. If the resources are available for adaptive web design, it is our recommendation that companies take the time and effort to create mobile-specific versions of their website.
For those businesses with large sites that have extensive amounts of content, or businesses that cannot afford to invest heavily in web development, responsive web design offers a viable means to give website visitors a satisfactory mobile browsing experience
If you need help deciding between adaptive web design and responsive web design for your own site, get in touch. We have experts waiting to discuss ways to help your business tap into the mobile marketplace.
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Critical Business Metrics for Your Website, part 3

The final installment on Critical Business Metricsw from the Bear Creek Web Blog:

Today, we wrap up our look at critical website metrics by discussing the bottom of the funnel. The best conversion optimization strategies don't stop at the moment a purchase is made or when your team closes a deal. Total optimization must include both your ability to acquire customers, and your ability to retain them.
When it comes to retention, the two key metrics for the bottom of the funnel that we are going to discuss are churn rates and customer lifetime value (LTV). We tie these metrics back to what we learned in our first post – specifically, cost per customer acquisition (CPCA) and cost per lead (CPL). (If you missed our earlier business metrics posts, you can catch up here with part one and part two.)
While churn rates and customer LTV are not numbers you will find directly in Google Analytics, they are essential to understanding the sustainability of your business model and whether or not your inbound marketing is delivering a solid ROI.

Churn Rates

If you've ever swapped cellphone service or changed internet service providers, you have been a part of what is known in the subscription business model as the churn rate or attrition rate. Simply put, the churn rate is the percentage of users who leave or cancel a service within a set amount of time.
Example: For the month of March, you have 100 current subscribers. By the end of the month 20 of those subscribers have cancelled their service. In this example, your gross churn rate is 20%.
Churn Rate (%):  # of subscribers lost ÷ # subscribers at the start of the month.
In the scenario, you would need to have acquired at least 21 new subscribers in March in order offset your losses. Factor in the CPCA for those subscribers versus the cost of the subscription and you have a clearer picture as to whether or not your subscription model is sustainable.
In the long term, if your churn rates are increasing over the course of several months, this can be an indication of growing competition in your niche or customer dissatisfaction – both key areas to address in order to keep your business profitable.

Customer LTV

The lifetime value of a customer is trickier to calculate, and requires some historical data to estimate accurately.  Let's go back and take a look at the example in our first blog post in this series. Assume that the CPCA is $5.00 and the average cost of a product sold is only $4.00. On the surface, this would seem to be a losing proposition, as we are losing $1.00 for every sale we get.
But let's take it a step further and also assume that on average, a customer makes 10 purchases from our store over the course of one year, and that our business does not see many repeat buyers after a year's time. In this instance, the customer LTV is $40.00 – well above the $5.00 spent on user acquisition. If we can find a way to encourage larger purchases or more frequent purchases, then the ROI improves even further.
We can use a similar method when discussing the cost per lead. If we assume that the average project billed to a new client has the cost of $1000 and that clients hire us for at least 4 projects, we have a customer LTV of $4000. Again, the profit is much higher than the cost per lead of $5.00 or the CPCA of $6.25 that we calculated in our first post.
Addressing Problems with Customer Retention
There are often many underlying causes of poor customer retention. Areas you will want to investigate include:
While pricing is often not the sole factor influencing a purchase, it can be a deciding factor for some customers. If you are competing solely on cost, customer churn can be expected any time a competitor has lower prices than those you advertise.
Value can be tangible, such as providing additional products or service offerings. It can also be intangible – superior customer support, better expertise, more experience, etc. How your customers perceive the value of your offerings when compared to the competition can contribute to churn.
Customer Nurturing
What you do after the sale is just as important as leading up to the sale. Many companies like Sears and ThinkGeek offer incentives for customers to continue shopping at their website. Points, membership perks, suggested products and services – all of these allow you to maintain contact with your current customers and encourage new sales. Customers who are not invested in your brand are more likely to shop elsewhere, leading to retention issues.
Understanding the best ways to optimize your online business requires a holistic view that incorporates metrics from every area of the funnel. By focusing on those areas that directly impact your bottom line, you can improve customer experience and profitability. If you need help understanding essential website metrics for your business, talk to us.
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