What Health Marketers Should Know About Responsive Design: Cons

Responsive design offers a great deal of promise to healthcare marketers as patients increasingly use mobile devices for some or all of their Internet browsing. But with the hype come several caveats. Here are the top cons we’ve learned from our project efforts with sites (typically in the 1000+ page range). In a previous post, we focused on the pros. Key takeaway: While there are benefits, don’t leap before you look!

  1. It is difficult for anyone to predict the future of technology and where it is heading. Responsive web design has already caused problems with enterprise-level websites that are built with back-end content management systems. This means that groups and hospitals with certain content management systems will have to weigh the issues carefully before attempting to adopt this design approach.
  2. Responsive Design has received some criticism regarding its trouble supporting some advertising technologies.
  3. Responsive Design is not for those who want to publish different content to mobile and desktop; some groups prefer to offer patients differing experiences with the two. Especially because tiny smartphones and high-resolution computers have varying capabilities, you may want to highlight media content, such as patient education videos, on a desktop version, while offer more condensed and easily readable material on cellphones.
  4. Responsive Design still has trouble with pages that are image- or video-rich. With RWD, even if all the images and scripts associated with your site are not required to display on a mobile device, they all still need to load, slowing down access time and thus decreasing convenience and ease for viewers.
  5. Responsive Design can sometimes mean the desktop site will not be utilizing the most advanced features available. If too much focus stays on mobile viewing, then a whole web experience is missed. Responsive design means trading usability for flexibility, so it’s important to consider the main goals of your website.
  6. A website created with Responsive Design takes time to set up, so it is not for those who need a rush site created. Overall, the additional effort required to implement these sites can increase the project resource effort by a factor of 20% or more.
  7. With SEO, Responsive Design does not allow targeting of titles, descriptions and other metadata to mobile-only users. Marketers are unable to target different titles and keywords depending on what they predict desktop or mobile users will be searching for (think information about coverages vs. nearest location).
  8. Responsive Design sites are not much smaller than desktop sites in download size when viewed on smaller devices and screens. The consequences of this loading time are so extreme that a responsive mobile site can take seven times longer to download than a dedicated mobile site.
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