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Responsive design is often touted as the future of web design based on little more than a vague sense that it makes websites more user-friendly and looks very cool.

And I’ll admit that one of my favourite things about it is watching how the content shifts around when you resize your desktop browser.

But responsive design isn’t just there to entertain simple minds. Aside from the SEO benefits, case studies are starting emerge that prove the technology can also increase traffic, sales and conversions.

These five case studies from brands such as O'Neill and Time Magazine reveal the potential benefits from adopting responsive design.

Obviously it would be a gross oversimplification to suggest that using responsive design was the sole factor behind the impressive results achieved by each of these websites, but it is certainly an important element.

And for more information on this topic, check out our blogs posts that take a closer look at exactly how responsive design can benefit site owners and highlight 10 examples of ecommerce sites that are built using responsive design.

O’Neill Clothing

This excellent case study from Electric Pulp shows that impressive results that O’Neill Clothing achieved after going responsive.

O’Neill tracked conversions, transactions and revenue for three weeks prior to launching its new site, then monitored the same metrics for three weeks after deploying the responsive version.

Electric Pulp says that the conditions it set in place during the redesign were “typical mobile patterns” that made the site more fluid and user-friendly.

It collapsed the primary navigation menu, allowing visitors to expand it by tapping a Menu link; increased the size of the font, tap areas and detail photos; reduced the number of columns; and spent a lot of time “fixing Magento forms.”

The redesign achieved some fairly spectacular results on iPhone/iPod:

  • Conversions increased by 65.71%.
  • Transactions went up 112.5%.
  • Revenue increased by 101.25%.

Similarly, on Android devices:

  • Conversions shot up by 407.32%.
  • Transactions increased by 333.33%.
  • Revenue increased by a whopping 591.42%.

Skinny Ties

Probably my favourite example of responsive design in ecommerce, Skinny Ties decided to use the technology to both “reinvent the brand’s identity and develop a future-friendly platform to carry the business forward.”

The site was redesigned with touch and click usage in mind, which keeps the interface consistent and compact.

Using a Magento platform, the designers also put a lot of work into perfecting the performance and navigation, as well as laying down strict guidelines for the style of product images.

Skinny Ties quietly launched the site in October 2012, and within a matter of weeks noticed a massive improvement on sales metrics compared to the previous three months:

  • Revenue from all devices increased by 42.4%.
  • The conversion rate improved by 13.6%.
  • Revenue from iPhone grew by 377.6%.
  • The conversion rate for iPhone increased by 71.9%.
  • The site’s bounce rate fell by 23.2%.
  • Visit duration increased by 44.6%.

Time Magazine

After seeing its mobile visitors increase to around 10% of overall traffic at the beginning of 2012, Time.com decided that responsive design was the best way to cater for this growing audience.

Time.com already had a separate WAP site, and one of the major goals of the redesign was to have a cross-platform look. 

The designers from the print side worked hand-in-hand with the digital design team in the early stages to come up with an aesthetic in terms of font treatments, graphic treatments and the right use of photography.

One of the main challenges the team faced was testing the new site on multiple devices to ensure it delivered an excellent user experience – overall the design process took nine months from start to finish.

But the results were worth it:

  • Mobile and tablet traffic has gone from 15% of the site traffic pre-redesign to now almost 25%. The bulk of that was the migration of people who were using the old WAP site migrating to the new site.
  • Pages per visit (PPV), across mobile, tablet and desktop are up “considerably” - for example, mobile PPV increased 23%.
  • On the homepage, unique visits increased 15%, and time spent went up 7.5%, with the mobile bounce rate decreasing by 26%.

Think Tank Photo

Photography equipment supplier Think Tank Photo (TTP) made the decision to rebuild its site using responsive design as mobile visitors had tripled in a year to 13% of overall traffic.

TTP worked with Blast Advanced Media to create its new site, achieving impressive results:

  • Revenue increased by more than 188% from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday compared to 2010.
  • Transactions from users on smartphones and tablets increased more than 96%.
  • Mobile page views increased 224%.


A brief case study to finish – mobile enterprise and point-of-sale hardware company Maxatec switched to responsive design to cater for increased mobile traffic.

As a result:

  • The average time to complete a task has been reduced by 50%.
  • The goal conversion rate increased by 12%.
David Moth

Published 4 March, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1686 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Dan Whittingham

Hello, should that subheading say 'Think Tank Photo'?

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Whoops, thanks Dan! Have updated it :)

over 3 years ago


Tom Gilbert Scott, Visual/UX Designer at Tesco.comEnterprise

I'm struggling to see how these case studies are telling you anything more than that these redesigns were fairly successful. There doesn't seem to be much to support the claim that 'going responsive' was a significant factor in itself.

Ignoring that it is near impossible to quantify a 'redesign', what's to say non-responsive redesigns wouldn't have yielded even more positive results?

Some more rigorous analysis here would be really helpful.

over 3 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk


'rigorous analysis' - yes you're quite right, all too often marketing decisions are based on a basis that a lacks evidence.

Another factor - is what these sites were like before the redesign: were they particularly poor on narrow viewports perhaps? That might partly explain some astonishing improvement percentages?

over 3 years ago


Rudee Garrett

After reading your post you are showing the importance of redesign. I couldn't agree with you more. We just redesigned our website and the response has been incredible. The internet is for ever changing and if you do not keep up, you will be left in the dust.

over 3 years ago

Pete Williams

Pete Williams, Managing Director at Gibe Digital

We have just had the first months data from our new client responsive site www.armitwines.com . Headline figures are Turnover increased by 184%, time on site up 66% and average order value up 97%. We also did a brand redesign at the same time so not just down to responsive treatment but certainly a major driver.
http://www.gibedigital.com/work/case-studies/armit-wines for our case study on what and how we did it.

over 3 years ago


Lior Bar-David

We've recently released a new Responsive CSS Preprocessor tool that helps make the transition to responsive design a whole lot easier. Simply state the context for the css declaration and the preprocessor will do all the math for you. Check it out: joyresponsivecss.com

over 3 years ago


Danny James, Developer at Concept4

How anyone could consider building a website that wasnt responsive these days

over 2 years ago

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