Owner of a company I'm helping is not happy with the current responsive Bootstrap view shown to mobile users and wants to disable it, showing them the desktop site.

I have a feeling that it may hurt conversions, but we've only been tracking Analytics for a few days and without any goals setup.

I feel our choices are:

  • improve the current responsive design
  • show mobile users a single optimized page, with option to toggle Desktop site
  • just disable the site's responsiveness and see what happens

The website is for a charitable organisation, so I'm hesitant to cause a drop in mobile conversions.

Authoritative data one way or another would be a big help.

Update: Thanks for the answers so far, from authoritative sources, but mostly from 2012. Would be great to see something a bit more modern - 5 years being quite a while in internet-years.

  • 1
    What is the goal of the site? Is there an clearly definable way of tracking a conversion? e.g. a thank you page?
    – dennislees
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 20:01
  • Yes, email signups and donations (single, campaign-related and recurring)
    – ljs.dev
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 10:23
  • 1
    I've just noticed the update to your question and added more recent research accordingly. Most current research focuses on full sites not being as well optimised as mobile sites. There's a general consensus that slower load times lead to higher bounce rates on mobile. Responsive sites should be designed for mobile first to ensure minimal load times.
    – user101673
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 15:41

3 Answers 3


Google's study entitled What Users Want Most from Mobile Sites Today is the most comprehensive and convincing study I've come across:

If you want to reach people on mobile, you've got to start with the basics — a mobile site. Though it seems obvious, this study found that 96% of consumers have encountered sites that weren't designed with mobile in mind. It also found that when it happens, it can be bad for business — 48% reported feeling frustrated and annoyed.

Google's study is definitely worth a read because it's full of statistics which are directly relevant to you.

Shareaholic also did their own research into this in 2012, and noted:

We just optimized the Shareaholic blog for mobile with a responsive design and in just two weeks mobile the redesign decreased our bounce rate 4.63%.

Mediarun similarly researched this in commerce sites, and also attributes the high bounce rate to poor support for mobile:

It is relatively easy to develop a basic mobile platform and present information in a mobile-friendly way and with the market clearly exploding in size this should be a vital next step for all retailers serious about e-commerce.

More Recent Research

OP requested more recent research, which I've added below.

  • Econsultancy (March 2015)
    • 71% of mobile users who encountered a non-mobile-optimised website bounced back to their search results.

  • Google: Why Marketers Should Care About Mobile Page Speed (July 2016)
    • 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

    • Full sites are not generally optimised for mobile, and in turn are less well optimised for shorter load times (a la Mobile First).

Here is a nice article. Outlines some basic problems and may help you strengthen your case.


Summary: Good mobile user experience requires a different design than what's needed to satisfy desktop users. Two designs, two sites, and cross-linking to make it all work.


The design challenge is to place the cut between mobile and full-site features in such a way that the mobile site satisfies almost all the mobile users' needs. If this goal is achieved, the extra interaction cost of following the link to the full site will be incurred fairly rarely.

For some cases, the first choice may not be possible. An overall redesign of the website is needed. And this includes a new content organization/architecture.


One Good Test Is Worth 1000 Expert Opinions

The single best case you can make is with real data from your site

You can find all the supporting theory in the world, but nothing is more convincing to stakeholders than real data.

There is a huge difference between "here is the theoretic affect of these changes" and "here's how your decisions directly affect the bottom line of this organization".

  1. Set as many goals as possible in Google Analytics (destination goals on conversion pages, time on site, pages per visit). You can also track and use metrics like bounce rate without actually setting up goals)

  2. Capture data for as long as is reasonable in the context of your investigation (2-3 weeks might do it)

  3. Turn off responsiveness - reconfirm the approach with the owner and make sure they understand the consequences. It is their idea after all.

  4. Watch for changes. After another 2-3 weeks you'll be able to make much stronger statements about the influence of responsiveness on site performance as a whole.

Alternatively, A/B Test Responsive vs Static.

This complicates the implementation and tracking, but this would ultimately be the most effective way of answering your questions.

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