Mobile Site, App, or Responsive Web Design: Tips from Richard Banfield

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The CEO and founder of Fresh Tilled Soil, a digital experience design firm, Richard Banfield says the answer to whether you should have a mobile site, an app, or a responsive web design (RWD) capable site depends on who your audience is, what they’re doing, and what the experience is expected to be.

In an episode of Landing Page Optimization, Richard explains when it is best to have one of these solutions.

richardbanfield responsive design

If your audience needs to access information or some part of the experience even when they’re offline, then they’ll best served by a native app.

As an example, Richard cites a client that allows customers to connect with personal fitness trainers. When the customers are at the gym, they don’t always get the best connection, but they still need to log hours, find out the best way to do an exercise, and look at information about their food plan.

So, if it’s something that‘s used repeatedly, frequently, and on the go, a native app is recommended. Richard points out, though, that nowadays, there’s a lot of wireless and people are connected for the most part, so a lot of companies can get away with responsive design.

He clarifies, however, that responsive is not just a dumbed down version of your web site. Just creating an infinite scrolling web site is not going to work for most customers.

Responsive is building a solution that’s right for the specific tasks that it will be used for, and that might include building conversion funnels and user journeys that are going to be relevant for that experience.

SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash agrees that with responsive, you have to fundamentally rethink the context and the specific tasks that people are going to use the mobile site for. That means not including everything and stripping it down, so it’s very effective for those specific tasks.

Richard adds that you have to think about how you would behave if you needed to complete a certain task.

If you needed a prescription filled, for example, you probably think about it at an inopportune time – maybe you’re with the kids at a soccer game or a dance recital. It’s never when you’re sitting on the couch and have a lot of time. It’s always a last minute thing when you reach for your smartphone and that’s when you need it to work efficiently for the task that needs to be completed.

You also have to build for the “fat finger moments” when your user multi-tasks (uses the smartphone on one hand and does something else with the other hand). So it’s critical to build and then test with real audience to find out if your design is going to work.

In the same LPO episode, Tim and Richard talk about enhancing the experience for different modalities and designing for a world of augmented and virtual reality. Richard also gives tips on creating high converting experiences.

webmaster-radio-1.jpgListen online or download the “Designing for People in a Multi-Device World with Richard Banfield” podcast from from

First Air Date: June 17, 2014