ITC President Laird Rixford answers the number one insurance website design question we get... Should my insurance agency website be adaptive or responsive?
Since 2007 the mobile revolution has hit every aspect of our lives. It has changed the way we communicate, shop and entertain ourselves. It has even changed the insurance industry.
Now we can use apps and mobile websites in all parts of the insurance process. This includes research, quote comparison, purchase, payment and management of our policies.
A lot of pixels and ink have been spent telling agencies they need to embrace mobile. The good news, most agencies have. The bad news, they’re not doing it right.
It’s the number one question we get when helping agencies further their online presence. Should my insurance website design be adaptive or responsive?
Adaptive websites change according to the device you are using.
This mobile website design looks at characteristics that identify the user’s device. Then, it displays the appropriate version of the website accordingly.
There are a few drawbacks to using an adaptive website strategy.
First, you must create two separate websites for the mobile and desktop experience. Second, you need to maintain an up-to-date list of device characteristics. This list helps your website determine which version to display.
Finally, you will be creating duplicate content since it will be both on your mobile and desktop websites. This means you run the risk of search engines down ranking you for duplicate content. (Good news. You can overcome this by correctly using canonical tags. More about that below.)
The current rage in website design is responsive.
Most web designers prefer this tactic because it’s easier to deploy one website that meets the needs of both desktop and mobile users.
Responsive websites let you tailor your website for multiple screen sizes. It’s a single website for all devices.
It overcomes the three major drawbacks of adaptive designs. But, it has its own challenges.
First, mobile devices have limited screen real estate. Large amounts of content work well on a desktop but cause a scrolling nightmare on mobile.
Second, it is hard to develop navigation menus and calls to action that work on mobile as well as they do on a desktop.
Third, textual and graphical elements might not work as well as expected when they are scaled up or down depending on the devices.
Finally, a responsive design loads the same graphics for mobile and desktop. But, the two devices have different bandwidth and speed considerations. Large graphics that are better for a desktop experience can slow things down when viewed on a mobile device.
So which one is better for your agency?
Our website platform Insurance Website Builder supports both responsive and adaptive designs. We have more than 4,200 unique insurance agency websites on the platform. Our analytics of more than four million unique visitors to those websites last year alone tell an interesting story.
The answer to whether you should use responsive or adaptive depends on the goal of your website. If your goal is to inform and educate your visitors hoping it will lead to an inbound phone call, then a responsive website is the way to go.
Responsive designs perform better for content driven websites. These are websites that drive education and thought leadership through regular blog posts.
Visitors on responsive websites stayed five times longer than they did on adaptive designs reading an average of two articles per session.
But, if you want your website to generate leads and provide 24/7 client service, then go with an adaptive website.
There are several key factors that determine a website’s performance… time on site, number of pages visited, bounce rate, page load speed, and goal conversion.
Last year, visitors to our clients’ websites spent 11 percent less time on adaptive websites while visiting 19 percent more pages.
Visitors to responsive websites bounced nine percent more often, meaning they left without finding what they needed. This is due to the differences between a curated adaptive mobile experience and responsive designs doing double duty.
Adaptive websites loaded an average of 280 percent faster than responsive designs. This is largely due to responsive websites having graphics that are about 385 percent larger for viewing on a desktop.
Now it’s time for the most important metric of website performance. The money maker… goal completions.
I’ve always said it. The real measure of a website is not the number of pages visited by a large amount of visitors but the submissions.
Since we only build websites for the insurance industry, we have a specific set of goals we track... quotes, service requests, and contacts.
Across all goals per visitor, adaptive websites outperformed responsive sites 6 to 1. When looking only at the ratio of quote submissions per visitor the margin widened to 10 to 1. Meaning visitors on adaptive websites were ten times more likely to submit a quote. The one exception was people making contact submissions, where both designs performed identically.
We explored this oddity further and found the reason adaptive websites perform better. It all has to do with the data that insurance agents collect with their website forms.
Collecting the correct information from a consumer is a delicate process. The more information you can get, the better qualified the lead. But, there are a few fields that can stop the buying process cold.
Mobile devices present a new challenge, the on-screen keyboard. Have you ever typed a VIN number using a virtual keyboard? Jumping back and forth between the letters and numbers gets old quick.
Also what happens when you combine this with asking too many questions? Consumers are quick to abandon the process. This is where a key tenet of responsive design falls short.
In the majority of responsive designs, you ask the same questions on mobile as you would on a desktop.
Adaptive websites are different. You don’t ask the same questions on both devices. They will ask a limited set of questions with mobile friendly entry and leave the full set for the desktop experience.
So, from our research it seems adaptive websites are best for the insurance industry. They provide a better user experience culminating in more leads for the agency.
But what if you have a responsive design already? It’s not the end of the world. There are things you can do to maximize your website’s performance. Check out our blog post (link below) on this research for the 10 tips to make sure your responsive website performs for your agency.
Either way, a mobile friendly website is always a good idea.