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This may sound like a daft question, but here it goes.

Faced with a challenge of turning a really old hand-coded website that is left-centered and feels/looks 1990s into a responsive site (using Foundation 5) we discovered we’d need to redo manually approx. 47 pages (individually).

We desperately need to roll out the responsive version at least for the homepage, category pages and search results page, but working on the 47 remaining pages would take for ever.

The question is, from user experience point, if you were to land on a page, view it, then click on another page, view it, and the third one which would look like it’s the same site but VERY old version of it, what’s the effect of that?

We are torn between finishing them all (and potentially losing time + masses of conversions) and having 50% responsive pages and 50% old-looking pages live.

What shall we do?

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I'm not sure why you desperately need to roll out responsive versions of a few pages; they probably still work on an iPhone, and at least the user gets a consistent experience across the site when doing so. And also, there is far more to Responsive Design than 'making it liquid so that everything fits on a mobile screen'. Where is your content strategy? The content would have been written with desktop users in mind so even if you can get all of it crammed into a mobile that's unlikely to be a better user experience than what you currently have. I'd never recommend having only some pages RWD. –  JonW Jan 17 at 11:53
    
...as consistency is important from a UX point of view. The user wouldn't care if 50% of the site is responsive, or if 1% is responsive. They wouldn't even know how much of it is. If they jump from one page to another that looks different then you're breaking their flow. Ideally you'd start everything from scratch, take mobile users in mind from the get-go, plan your full content with that in mind and then rebuild the whole site around the new content. –  JonW Jan 17 at 11:56
    
Thanks @JonW. The desperation comes from dwindling sales, increasing bounce back rate, increasing visitors from tablet/mobile devices and - probably not so relevant in this case - dropping rankings in Google SERPs. The content strategy for the time being is to keep the current content, and I do see the need for it to be rewritten. The visitors on average view 3 pages, and the majority of 'old looking' pages would be the ones that currently are viewed least. Thank you for your tip on going back to the drawing board. –  Jurga Jan 17 at 14:10
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I understand the frustration (speaking from experience!) but in my opinion the best thing to to is tidy up the existing content as-is, make it more relevant, trim all the fat etc. Then work on making a responsive site. 'Keeping the current content' isn't really a content strategy; content needs to be targeted at the user - both who they are and how they're consuming the content. The web has moved on significantly so your content needs to keep pace with that. Making an existing site 'responsive' is just a temporary bandage (that may not actually help) not a solution. –  JonW Jan 17 at 14:15
    
This is an interesting question! Thanks for asking it...I imagine it's relevant to a lot of situations these days. –  DA01 Jan 17 at 18:11

1 Answer 1

I agree with @jonw's comment above, that ideally you would re-design your content from scratch.

If for whatever reason management won't wait that long (still do try to persuade them to redo sometime your content for mobile please!), then I have found the most honest approach and the one which will not break UX fundamentally the following: Break the site into two sites/subdomains:

  • The new site: This contains only the new pages. Its main navigation only gets you to new pages (responsive or otherwise newly designed). Your new site contains one and only one secondary navigation element which will bring you to,
  • The old site: Which is everything you have now, as is. Old users can come here to find stuff. When you've finished the new site, you discard this.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks @ekapros. An interesting suggestion. The trouble is that we intent to keep the same URL structure so it would be impossible to keep the 'old site as is' because some key pages would now be new and responsive, hence they'd be missing from the 'old site as is' section. Does that make sense? Any way around this? –  Jurga Jan 17 at 14:15
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Usually what happens is that you have a folder mySite.com/old/ where you put the old site. mySite.com has the new site. –  ekapros Jan 17 at 14:34

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