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Zava Design
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Re: What is the most important attribute of an e-com site?

I don’t see it as a “can of worms” at all. Mobile device access is a growing ratio of website visitors on every website, ecommerce I would think even more so (but web stats would confirm the exact numbers for an individual site). Indeed for many sites it may be the dominant user access channel.

Load speed? If that’s an issue find another developer. With good mobile first development this should not be an issue.

The big negative is that this solution is much more expensive!

Can be but it should not be. I don’t charge significantly more for the sites I build now that I include responsiveness (which for my mind is not a debate on whether it should be included or not). The “larger” digital agency I used to AM/PM at don’t for their solution which delivers a different version of the site to mobile devices.

And if there were any additional costs, it boils down to a pretty simple question: Can you afford to release a site in 2014 (or beyond) that is not responsive? People may debate the answer, for me there’s enough evidence that there’s no debate. Web usability is about making the experience as pleasant & easy for the user as possible. On a mobile device that should be a mobile optimised version of the site, rather than a desktop version the user has to pinch and zoom and try to click on tiny links to use.

This element might be even more important depending on your target market. If it’s 16 – 24 year olds (for example) then I would expect the mobile device access figures to be significantly higher in most cases. Indeed in some cases that you should be focusing on a mobile device site first and foremost (hence the growing focus on “mobile first” responsive sites/development).