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GGG
01-22-2014, 12:44 PM
The more research I do on responsive design, the more I discover that not all templates are created equally. For starters, I have some general questions:

1) As I understand it, responsive design can slow down load times on certain devices depending how they're set up?

2) Do you know anything about RESS? Are the hosted cart providers using this to help page speed?

3) Bottom line...when I do a total redesign of my store, I want to make sure that it's functioning the best for my customers, and for us.

Anything you care to share about responsive design with your knowledge of the industry would be much appreciated.

Kitty
01-22-2014, 01:04 PM
Thanks GGG. Let's hope this thread is not all questions and no answers while we struggle to get our heads round the next hurdles we need to leap through ;)

In addition to GGG's questions I would like to ask about differences in the way responsive templates are built and what are the comparative strengths and weaknesses of say Foundation v Bootstrap.

All I have managed to figure out is that Foundation is built on SASS so hey ho is this another question

RESS v SASS anyone ??

Foundation claims to be particularly good for Ruby on Rails?

As we are already behind the times with V my take is I want to be as cutting edge as possible if I am rebuilding on responsive.

I see a lot of responsive sites that are horrendously slow but some of this is due to the fact that they are using full screen sliders with massive images and various other overcrowding pitfalls I imagine LEAN applies well to Responsive website design due to the number of extra calls required.

Help.

demitrius
01-23-2014, 07:17 AM
1 - Responsive design uses javascript and CSS in regards to "changing" the views and adapting menu functions and such. This can make your site appear slow, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. Due to cache, this isn't really an issue.

2 - V does not use LESS/SASS or any of that fancy CSS compilers. Using these can benefit wholly since it is a "compressed" version of CSS. It is primarily used server-side, but modern browsers can read it just fine as well (but this also limits your audience severely). Be aware that using LESS/SASS will require you to learn what may as well be a whole new language. Don't worry though, plain jane CSS isn't really going away for a long, long time.

3 - This isnt a question

Kitty
01-23-2014, 07:28 AM
1 - Responsive design uses javascript and CSS in regards to "changing" the views and adapting menu functions and such. This can make your site appear slow, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. Due to cache, this isn't really an issue.



Some brains on the job at last ;) Agree totally that potential benefits outweigh the negatives. I think a lot of it is down to design as well and important to try to apply the basic principles of LEAN design.

Don't know about GGG but I am not just asking about what V do rather the industry in general. I don't expect V will be anywhere near fulfilling a decent responsive template for me anytime soon.

demitrius
01-23-2014, 08:07 AM
I'm not familiar on other providers implementation of responsive, unfortunately, sorry.

Kitty
01-23-2014, 08:42 AM
I'm not familiar on other providers implementation of responsive, unfortunately, sorry.

Million dollar question what do you know about V's responsive design then I didn't think anyone had it yet?

ritchey
01-23-2014, 09:19 AM
Anyone want to set up a betting pool on the release date? My bet is November 2014 the Tuesday the week before Black Friday...


Million dollar question what do you know about V's responsive design then I didn't think anyone had it yet?

ritchey
01-23-2014, 09:21 AM
For responsive design templates, with 3dCart you can get their free one, and a designer created one a little before 3dCart did for and is selling it I think for $99.

Big Commerce per Scott it seems responsive design can be done, but I lack details. The base template seems to not be a true responsive design.

GGG
01-23-2014, 09:31 AM
Don't know about GGG but I am not just asking about what V do rather the industry in general. I don't expect V will be anywhere near fulfilling a decent responsive template for me anytime soon.

Yes, industry/design general questions. (except my 3rd bullet point statement vs. question. thanks for pointing that out, Demetrius. lol) So it's LESS vs. RESS?

As I prowl the carts that are already offering responsive design with operable stores...I see a substantial difference in load times. Some good...some not so good. Obviously, could be the individual store optimization, but I'm also seeing different load times and display of the actual shopping cart's responsive theme.

The more I read, the more I find that responsive design must be approached intelligently...design, optimization for load times, etc. I'm just trying to figure out who is doing it the right way...and yes, I'd love to hear more about a V timeframe.

swilliams
01-23-2014, 09:44 AM
Anything you care to share about responsive design with your knowledge of the industry would be much appreciated.

That's quite open question! :D

Here are a few quick thoughts:
1. Responsive is certainly a broad term (as is web design). There are varying degrees of intricacy and perfection. Most stores would be fine without worrying about Bootstrap vs Foundation or which CSS compiler to use.
2. As Demetrius points out, many of those CSS frameworks are run server side - something you cannot do on Volusion, 3dcart or Bigcommerce. Again, I wouldn't worry about that. Use good, clean CSS. IMO that is not going to make the most critical difference.
3. I would be more worried about the images that are served, but (without thinking through workarounds) it ideally would happen server side (smaller = smaller image used; not just having the visible size reduced by javascript or CSS).
4. I don't think we have been given any indication from Volusion yet how they will roll this out.
5. You have been able to buy Bigcommerce responsive templates for quite a while now. More importantly, (even though 3dcart just "launched" it's own responsive templates with a bit of a overhaul) it has been to implement responsive web design on both 3dcart and Bigcommerce on your own for a while now. You could and can still pay a designer/developer to create any custom responsive template for either of those.

Some final thoughts:
1. Speed is important in responsive web design. I agree with Demetrius though that it would be better to be responsive and a little slow than not responsive.
2. Worry less about things that will save a few bytes of load time and focus on the big savings.
3. User experience should be a key focus - more so than technology.
4. When it comes time, test across numerous devices and look for the breakpoints.
5. The benefits for SEO and online marketing are incredibly important. It would be hard to overstate this in my opinion.


Lastly, if it would be helpful I could possibly write up a blog post that details the benefits, how it works, things to consider, and the process (though obviously I couldn't yet tell you how to achieve this on V). Let me know.

GGG
01-23-2014, 10:19 AM
That's quite open question! :D

Haha! But see what a fabulous response I got with an open question? :cool:



3. I would be more worried about the images that are served, but (without thinking through workarounds) it ideally would happen server side (smaller = smaller image used; not just having the visible size reduced by javascript or CSS).


I don't have my notes here...but as I understand it, a huge difference in load time depending on those image sizes? And yes, I believe is supposed to happen server side. Do you know if there are hosted carts doing that? Or am I way off base with my question?

Make no mistake about it, I am 100% for responsive design. I can't stand shopping 'classic mobile' sites (I'm the shopper who clicks the full site link) but as an owner I want to make sure that the responsive design we serve up will be the best that it can be.

Like everything else with hosted shopping carts, I would imagine some will do it better than others. I'm just trying to comb through the options. For instance, one provider who is now offering responsive templates has a responsive home page that stinks. Um, out of the running. If they can't do their own properly, why would I trust them with mine?

And yes, V really needs to get on this. I can't compare apples to oranges when there's no freaking orange on the shelf!

Kitty
01-23-2014, 10:38 AM
Thanks for the very useful info Scott.


3. I would be more worried about the images that are served, but (without thinking through workarounds) it ideally would happen server side (smaller = smaller image used; not just having the visible size reduced by javascript or CSS).

This is why I think overall LEAN principles are critical.


4. I don't think we have been given any indication from Volusion yet how they will roll this out. I am not holding my breath... In answer to Ritchey I bet a year of buggy maintenance and roll out in the last quarter if we are lucky and then they will be most likely on a purchase only availability with a high probability you have to use their 'design' services to implement.


Some final thoughts:
1. Speed is important in responsive web design. I agree with Demetrius though that it would be better to be responsive and a little slow than not responsive.
2. Worry less about things that will save a few bytes of load time and focus on the big savings.
3. User experience should be a key focus - more so than technology.
4. When it comes time, test across numerous devices and look for the breakpoints. The wisdom of Solomon...

5. The benefits for SEO and online marketing are incredibly important. It would be hard to overstate this in my opinion. I am sad to say that my business has most definitely suffered exponentially particularly in the last quarter of last year because of this severe shortcoming in the Volusion platform. I am not going through another year with this deficit in the service that I pay for that I expect to be fit for purpose. In my opinion it no longer is.



Lastly, if it would be helpful I could possibly write up a blog post that details the benefits, how it works, things to consider, and the process (though obviously I couldn't yet tell you how to achieve this on V). Let me know.

Please please please...

antiquesparrow
01-23-2014, 11:40 AM
Omg! Huh, what, lol

I don't even know what you people are talking about! I feel like I just walked into a bar and everyone was speaking German. No not German, I would at least recognize that as being the German language. lol No, I walked into a bar and you were all just speaking some fake made up language for a comedy skit.

Huh?

I so need to get a different job!

GGG
01-23-2014, 11:57 AM
Omg! Huh, what, lol

I don't even know what you people are talking about! I feel like I just walked into a bar and everyone was speaking German. No not German, I would at least recognize that as being the German language. lol No, I walked into a bar and you were all just speaking some fake made up language for a comedy skit.


haha! antiquesparrow, if you hang around the brains on this forum long enough (I am not one of them) you eventually soak up a whole bunch of stuff that you never even knew existed. Half the time I'm speaking pig Latin while everyone else is talking Greek.

Live and learn...except for code. I have to draw the line somewhere!

P.S. Google is your friend. Only after you've done hours of research that can be answered by someone in the know within 10 seconds...should you ask the question. ;)

BabyBeauandBelle
01-23-2014, 12:04 PM
Speaking in the context of a hosted e-commerce provider, these are things that you (95% of people) should not worry about. The job of a good provider is to PROVIDE good solutions that work how it should with compliant standards.

For example - I expect when Volusion moves over to a responsive framework that I should be able to upload a product photo at a large pixel dimension and they better take that image and make several high quality duplicates at various pixel dimensions (not unlike what happens now with the image upload) and only serve the proper image to the proper screen dimension making the request, this way you don't serve a 1200px wide image to an iphone.

These are the reasons why we use hosted providers, and hopefully (said very pessimistically) they can deliver proper frameworks so we don't have to worry about all the little details...

GGG
01-23-2014, 12:19 PM
These are the reasons why we use hosted providers, and hopefully (said very pessimistically) they can deliver proper frameworks so we don't have to worry about all the little details...

That's kind of my point, BBB. I'm trying to figure out what I need to know about the proper framework to make sure I'm getting the best. IS V talking about this at all on the official forum?

Because the LAST thing on earth I want to have to worry about is the details...

ritchey
01-23-2014, 02:50 PM
Last I checked the official forums had little activity, and what I have seen for the last couple of years with V and new features until it's actually rolled out (or announced via a webinar), there are no details. Not even an estimated date. I opened a ticket with tech support, and their reply is they had no details. V. got burned badly by the comment, "shock and awe" on V7, which did not.

My gut feeling is if V. was coming out with major enhancements such as responsive design in the next few months, they would be announcing this. It's a big negative for Volusion that now responsive design is available from 3dCart (free) and Big Commerce (costs) since Google is pushing it so hard. If I was in charge of marketing for either Big Commerce or Volusion, I would be focused on that. And if I was Big Commerce, I would make a free responsive template.

I am surprised V's competitors marketing is not using this.


That's kind of my point, BBB. I'm trying to figure out what I need to know about the proper framework to make sure I'm getting the best. IS V talking about this at all on the official forum?

Because the LAST thing on earth I want to have to worry about is the details...

GGG
01-24-2014, 06:54 AM
I again spent last night checking out responsive design sites...on my iPad. What good is a responsive design going to do me if

a) poor design with text running off the right side of page and therefore unreadable? Can't be minimized to read. What is that about? does every individual page on a responsive site need to be optimized for usability?

b) slow load times. My customers won't stick around.

c) If Google prefers responsive, will they take into account an increased load time?

I need this done right, and I'm not a designer/coder. Oy freaking vey...

Rick H.
01-24-2014, 07:52 AM
My concern is that Volusion may roll out their representation of RWD and we will be confined within it. We've seen this in the past with Volusion "features". They get it wrong or half-bake it and we have to live with it.

GGG
01-24-2014, 08:52 AM
Agreed, Rick. Scoping through their corporate site they appear to have most of it right...and pretty fast. They have at least one page that needs to be tweaked, but they didn't ask me for a review :)

However, how V's RWD will apply to client needs is a very good question.

ritchey
01-24-2014, 10:02 AM
Volusion's corporate site www.volusion.com is built using Drupal, not on their own shopping software. http://builtwith.com/volusion.com
I am annoyed Volusion's own site does not use their own software.

They do use their own shopping cart for their store which is on a sub-domain: http://store.volusion.com/

[QUOTE=GGG;20475]Agreed, Rick. Scoping through their corporate site they appear to have most of it right...and pretty fast.

swilliams
01-24-2014, 10:37 AM
I again spent last night checking out responsive design sites...on my iPad. What good is a responsive design going to do me if

a) poor design with text running off the right side of page and therefore unreadable? Can't be minimized to read. What is that about? does every individual page on a responsive site need to be optimized for usability?

b) slow load times. My customers won't stick around.

c) If Google prefers responsive, will they take into account an increased load time?

I need this done right, and I'm not a designer/coder. Oy freaking vey...

GGG,

A - Not every page needs to be optimized individually if you follow various patterns / use templates. The design is key to make sure it responds to all different devices. A properly designed/coded responsive site should not have text that runs of to the side or other issues.

B - Page speed is always important - responsive or not. A responsive site should not be slower though than a full desktop version on a smaller system. That said, do everything you can to speed it up. Unfortunately, with Volusion (and most of the other hosted carts) you will probably not be able to leverage server side processes to speed things up (such as serving appropriately sized images depending on screen size).

C - As we have said before, you are going to come out ahead with Google if you have a responsive site versus one that is serving up separate (and faster) code on another URL.

swilliams
01-24-2014, 10:39 AM
My concern is that Volusion may roll out their representation of RWD and we will be confined within it. We've seen this in the past with Volusion "features". They get it wrong or half-bake it and we have to live with it.

Yes, this will have a lot to do with the new template editor and how much control they give. If they move in the direction of 3dcart and Bigcommerce where you have much greater control over the template layout and where items fall, you will be fine. If they just switch it to a div based code with little flexibility it will be much harder to make a site adapt appropriately.

GGG
01-24-2014, 10:45 AM
GGG,

Unfortunately, with Volusion (and most of the other hosted carts) you will probably not be able to leverage server side processes to speed things up (such as serving appropriately sized images depending on screen size).



Scott, pre-k please. Why can't hosted carts serve up appropriately sized images?

GGG
01-24-2014, 10:47 AM
A properly designed/coded responsive site should not have text that runs of to the side or other issues.


Well, there's a whole bunch of improperly designed/coded sites out there, then!

swilliams
01-24-2014, 10:58 AM
Scott, pre-k please. Why can't hosted carts serve up appropriately sized images?

Not that they couldn't in theory, but that Volusion, Bigcommerce, and 3dcart don't.

Ideally (for speed), the server would detect the screen size and then serve up smaller images on smaller devices. So what happens is you wind up using the desktop version of an image constrained with CSS. This means that you are loading a file much larger than is necessary.

Because we don't have access to the servers on hosted ecommerce platforms, we cannot control this ourselves. The carts would have to build this in themselves.

Note: I have not had time to play around with 3dcart's changes from earlier in the week yet. Theoretically, they may have built something like this in.

Does that make sense? Not quite Pre-K I'm afraid.

swilliams
01-24-2014, 11:01 AM
Well, there's a whole bunch of improperly designed/coded sites out there, then!

Yep! There are a lot of people out there who build "responsive" sites, but don't have a clue how to really do it. Nor do they test thoroughly.

PS, in my opinion (and many others as well), a responsive site should start by designing for mobile first, then work their way up - testing for a variety a device types along the way.

Note: you can test how a device responds to various screen sizes in Firefox and can watch how it adapts along the way.

GGG
01-24-2014, 11:30 AM
Does that make sense? Not quite Pre-K I'm afraid.

Nope, not yet. Fortunately, I gave up my personal pride on this forum a long time ago.


Ideally (for speed), the server would detect the screen size and then serve up smaller images on smaller devices. So what happens is you wind up using the desktop version of an image constrained with CSS. This means that you are loading a file much larger than is necessary.

So you're saying to do this server side is to actually load a larger file vs. smaller? sheesh. I thought it was the opposite, and therefore increased speed. So doing it server side would also increase B/W usage due to file size?


Note: I have not had time to play around with 3dcart's changes from earlier in the week yet. Theoretically, they may have built something like this in.



Shopify, CoreCommerce, and Americommerce also offering RWD templates. Some better than others. V is way behind on this...unless they come out with superior product.

It's official. I have a headache.

swilliams
01-24-2014, 11:40 AM
So you're saying to do this server side is to actually load a larger file vs. smaller? sheesh. I thought it was the opposite, and therefore increased speed. So doing it server side would also increase B/W usage due to file size?


No, I'm saying that it would load the appropriately sized image. So:

If a mobile phone can only fit an image that is 200px x 200px in a certainly location, that is the image that is served up.
If a tablet can only fit an image that is 350px x 350px in a certainly location, that is the image that is served up.
If a desktop can fit an image that is 500px x 500px in a certainly location, that is the image that is served up.

This results in increased load times on the smaller devices. It would also reduce bandwidth because the file size of that smaller image is significantly smaller.

But this has to be done by the server. So, if we don't have access to that or have not been given a template function/technique to do it by the software company (ie Volusion) there is not much we can do on that front.

GGG
01-24-2014, 11:57 AM
This results in increased load times on the smaller devices. It would also reduce bandwidth because the file size of that smaller image is significantly smaller.

Perhaps a difference in semantics here. lol Increased to me means worse. Do you mean better load times for smaller devices? That was my previous understanding.


But this has to be done by the server. So, if we don't have access to that or have not been given a template function/technique to do it by the software company (ie Volusion) there is not much we can do on that front.

Once again, I expect a hosted cart to do what's best for me without an iota of technical knowledge as to how they're expected to do so. That's what I'm paying them for :cool:

swilliams
01-24-2014, 12:03 PM
Sorry, how about improved load load times.

swilliams
01-24-2014, 12:06 PM
Once again, I expect a hosted cart to do what's best for me without an iota of technical knowledge as to how they're expected to do so. That's what I'm paying them for :cool:

In this case, I would not say what they are doing is harmful. It would just be better if they built that in. That is easier said than done though. It would certainly require rewriting parts of how their templating works on the backend.

GGG
01-24-2014, 12:17 PM
Sorry, how about improved load load times.

Thanks so much for the explanation, Scott! At least I know I was on the right page, just reading it wrong. It's about -28 here with the windchill. My brain is frozen. In the summer, it's overheated.


In this case, I would not say what they are doing is harmful. It would just be better if they built that in. That is easier said than done though. It would certainly require rewriting parts of how their templating works on the backend.

No foul play expected or accused, and huge kudos to the carts who have moved forward on this. I just always want better... actually, the best. Difficult to determine in a feature that's so new to hosted cart platforms.

swilliams
01-24-2014, 12:25 PM
Thanks so much for the explanation, Scott! At least I know I was on the right page, just reading it wrong. It's about -28 here with the windchill. My brain is frozen. In the summer, it's overheated.

Yeah, I know what you mean. It's only supposed to be in the low 70s here in California today. Tough to focus. :p

Kitty
01-25-2014, 08:24 AM
...I would be more worried about the images that are served, but (without thinking through workarounds) it ideally would happen server side (smaller = smaller image used; not just having the visible size reduced by javascript or CSS).

Thanks Scott. Just want to get things clear in my head. I am looking at templates. One example offers the option to upload a smaller image for smartphone/tablet for logo but then it says that product images will automatically be resized. Are you saying that any system that does this 'Automatic Resize' will most likely just be reducing pixel size by CSS/Java unless we have the option to upload a set of seperate images?

Sorry to nitpick for example if you have your site adequately optimized and have a reasonable load time on PC one might think great everything's hunky dory but then are you suggesting that the well optimised Smartphone/Tablet responsive version of a site will be/is running at a different speed benchmark than a similar site (or responsive version of) on PC due to the fact that smaller images can/should be used resulting in overall faster load times for SP/Tab?

If a site cannot optimise images seperately for Pc v SP/Tab then would best practice be to use an image (bit) size optimal for SP/Tab at the risk of lesser quality. Which of course is great unless you are aiming for retinal display which from what I can see demanDs high res images.

Analysis Paralysis!

Kitty
02-25-2014, 03:39 AM
Responsive templates. What Scott said earlier in this thread is spot on:


1. Speed is important in responsive web design. I agree with Demetrius though that it would be better to be responsive and a little slow than not responsive.
2. Worry less about things that will save a few bytes of load time and focus on the big savings.
3. User experience should be a key focus - more so than technology.
4. When it comes time, test across numerous devices and look for the breakpoints.
5. The benefits for SEO and online marketing are incredibly important. It would be hard to overstate this in my opinion.

Scott please tell me if I am wrong but the way I see it from my recent experiences for Volusion to go responsive there are three main ways they can achieve this:

a) Availability of individual Responsive templates,
b) Bespoke responsive rebuilds by the design team
or
c) Creating a totally responsive 'template Engine' as a skeleton framework for all templates to be based on.

Firstly lets consider:

a) Volusion's templates are currently some of the most expensive available compared to pricing in say Big Commerce or Shopify so it is reasonable to expect any responsive templates they may offer to be priced accordingly.

b) For bespoke design as is their current way volusion will most likely charge a bespoke price

c) This would mean a total rebuild of their software from ground up and a migration of all existing sites into the new skeleton framework. The implementations of this would mean that there would then be a skeleton framework for responsive templates and sites to be based on by using say typically a grid system. This would be a vast maintenance heavy overhaul of the existing system any sites with elements over and above the basic skeleton framework would need rigorous testing and adjustments.

From my recent learning curve it is not possible to simply pick up a non responsive site and plonk it into a responsive framework without additional and probably extensive work, no matter how robust the responsive framework or existing site. There is no magic wand that any cart provider can wave to make everyones site suddenly responsive.

Basically you need to consider all your graphics and design, navigation and the lot again from scratch to see what works and test across the key media such as Iphone/smartphone, Ipad/tablet and desktop rendering. There are surprises. Existing graphic elements most likely need to be redesigned and key functionality reconsidered. Again I think the LEAN approach suits responsive best.

If say Volusion used the skeleton framework approach any custom coding on a non responsive site needs to be redone to fit into a responsive framework.

Having thoroughly considered the points above it was not much of a leap for me to consider the move to another provider who already had available live, tested, responsive functionality.

In situations like this it is often easier to knock down the existing walls and just rebuild from scratch.

If I am wrong and there is a magic wand to do this I hope Volusion use it in the next month and then perhaps I wll not move my other site but if I am right I cannot see anything improving radically with Volusion in the 'Responsive Games' until we have eaten most of the year.

KKS
02-25-2014, 04:37 AM
Kitty, yes, Volusion can't just wave a magic wand and give our sites responsive design. Most store owners would have a lot of design work to do. My site is rather simple, but has a lot of fixed width and size elements that I incorporated. I think both Scott and Erik pointed out that even people who are proficient in HTML/CSS would likely have to consult experts to make responsive design work well.

Kitty
02-25-2014, 06:16 AM
Scott and Erik pointed out that even people who are proficient in HTML/CSS would likely have to consult experts to make responsive design work well.

Hmm a bit of a generalisation and as much as I respect Scott and Erik not strictly true at a basic level.

It depends entirely on the parameters of what you are trying to achieve.

Frankly it is possible to go into Shopify for example and easily set up a basic responsive site in a day with no problem whatsoever but however if you are trying to make an existing non responsive site with all it's gubbins fit into that template you will hit problems.

My point is more about fitting a square peg into a round hole which can be difficult or impossible without adjustments and a reiteration of the point that there will most likely be no easy fix for people with existing non responsive sites on the Volusion platform if and when they ever pull some responsive functionality from the hat.

My aim is to share my experience in the way I would want others too so we can be prepared for pitfalls.

Maybe not anyone I tend to converse with regularly on this forum but there may be people who think that if Volusion roll out some Responsive functionality it will be simpler than migrating to another platform from the design and functionality aspect (excluding implications of SEO) this is not necessarily completely true.

So now could be a good time for others, not just me, to consider their motivations for and benefits of staying with Volusion. Unless a person plans not to move with the times responsive design needs tackling some way, some how, at some stage.

KKS
02-25-2014, 06:34 AM
Hmm a bit of a generalisation and as much as I respect Scott and Erik not strictly true at a basic level.
You cut off my "I think" -- I could be completely wrong -- my apologies to Scott and Erik if so. Let me go back and look for what I am thinking of.

I was referring to making an existing store like mine responsive. Volusion couldn't just flip a switch.

Of course I think it would be easier to start with a fresh, fully responsive design and plug in text and photos.

KKS
02-25-2014, 07:09 AM
Kitty, clarification, this is what Scott wrote in another thread -- I was reading this through my fears that my skill level may not meet the requirements of responsive design:

http://www.convergent7.com/forum/volusion-forum/general-volusion/volusion-news/2386-volusion-google-page-ranking-letter-ceo-new-theming-engine-apps-2.html#post20159


One more thought for you all. Modifying a pre-built, responsive template is going to be more complex than a fixed width template that doesn't respond.

Whereas with a fixed-width template you can essentially focus on replacing items and just making sure you don't mess it up (across browsers), with a responsive template you are not only swapping out items but ensuring that they respond properly across the various devices the template will encounter.

For example: say the template has a key section that is 500 pixels wide on a standard desktop screen. Now you decide to push it to 700 pixels wide. You not only need to get it to work in the first scenario but help it respond properly as you work your way down to smaller and smaller devices. You are not just designing for 1 screen but for all of them.

This can manageable and entirely possible. And if you focus on swapping out dummy sections and images for similar items you should not encounter many issues. I'm just pointing out that the level of effort and complexity is greater for responsive. The is no magic responsive design code plugin. It takes effort, some know-how, and plenty of testing.

Hope I didn't just scare some of you.

Marc_NY
02-25-2014, 07:16 AM
I use my HTC EVO 4G LTE phone quite often when I am not in front of my desktop(s). To me there is nothing worse than having a site reduce the content to what it feels is appropriate for me to view. I would much prefer a full site where I can enlarge / reduce and navigate to exactly what I want. I'll be the judge of what content I want to see and how I want to see it not you. Besides most of the responsive sites look like shit anyway.

Kitty
02-25-2014, 07:27 AM
Yep I agree with all that Scott says there:

One more thought for you all. Modifying a pre-built, responsive template is going to be more complex than a fixed width template that doesn't respond.

My point is that exactly modifying existing sites to become responsive is a chore. Quite possibly easier tackled by starting with a clean slate and updating the design completely. For people other than Marc of course who may want to go responsive it is probably just as easy starting with a clean slate and bringing a 2 - 5 year or older site inline with more modern features by a fresh start.

Which in this discussion which is becoming rather circular takes me back to my point;


So now could be a good time for others, not just me, to consider their motivations for and benefits of staying with Volusion. Unless a person plans not to move with the times responsive design needs tackling some way, some how, at some stage.

Marc excepted ;)

Kitty
02-25-2014, 07:35 AM
Just for Marcs benefit I can understand that things may work fine for him as they are as he is in the commodities market. Selling Washing machine parts is a bit like car parts.

My partner buys car parts from sites that look like crap as long as they function and offer good service at the right price.

When you are in the market of selling pretty things which are discretionary purchases this is a different psychological game altogether and a quite different set of rules apply.

KKS
02-25-2014, 07:56 AM
Isn't responsive design the new name for liquid layouts -- which were all the rage for awhile and fell out of favor because they tend to be messy?

GGG
02-25-2014, 09:59 AM
I use my HTC EVO 4G LTE phone quite often when I am not in front of my desktop(s). To me there is nothing worse than having a site reduce the content to what it feels is appropriate for me to view. I would much prefer a full site where I can enlarge / reduce and navigate to exactly what I want. I'll be the judge of what content I want to see and how I want to see it not you. Besides most of the responsive sites look like shit anyway.

haha! This is exactly what I think of both mobile and responsive sites, but I thought it was because I'm old. I will ALWAYS click to full site if given the chance. And I haven't yet seen any responsive sites that trip my trigger despite hours of searching. Blech!

However, since Google seems to have a preference for mobile/responsive vs. full site...I made a strong request for implementation in the last product advisory council survey.

Who am I to argue with Google even if I think they're wrong?

deanp
02-25-2014, 11:17 AM
Why can't hosted carts serve up appropriately sized images?

Because that would require resources to recode. Instead, companies would rather spend those resources marketing their increasingly out-of-date software, rather than keeping up, staying ahead of the curve, or *gasp* innovating.

Compare the costs associated with the Volusion Van to, say, a market value annual salary. There you go.

Kitty
02-25-2014, 12:51 PM
haha! This is exactly what I think of both mobile and responsive sites, but I thought it was because I'm old. I will ALWAYS click to full site if given the chance. And I haven't yet seen any responsive sites that trip my trigger despite hours of searching. Blech!

However, since Google seems to have a preference for mobile/responsive vs. full site...I made a strong request for implementation in the last product advisory council survey.

Who am I to argue with Google even if I think they're wrong?

Up until seeing some of the recent responsive templates and how well they render on tablet/phone all the mobile sites I had seen offered by Shopping carts like Volusion really did not appeal to me. On certain sites I do click through to the classic site rather than the mobile version ebay is a classic to say it is such a huge company their mobile rendering is painful.

There is no getting away from the fact though that content heavy sites with complex navigation are difficult for joe average to navigate on a small phone screen. So as much as I resent oligarchs like google taking over the world, I actually think they are right in this respect, and of course now we have google mobile bot to keep happy as well instead of just good old google bot.

Maybe some of you do think that responsive is a fad or unnecessary, I don't. I am sure however, that most likely in a couple of years there will be a new must have that will take over from responsive implementation. These things always keep evolving and all we can attempt to do is keep up with the times.

At the end of the day though for me it boils down to the fact moving one of my sites away from Volusion is giving me the Responsive functionality that I want in a timely manner.

To beat it all, even if I wasn't bothered about Responsive which I am as a cherry on the cake I am now paying less money and getting Free Bandwidth and unlimited products. A deal I am willing to try. Oh forgot to mention improved speed too.

KKS
02-25-2014, 09:02 PM
There is no getting away from the fact though that content heavy sites with complex navigation are difficult for joe average to navigate on a small phone screen.Kitty, this is my concern. The examples I see of "great" responsive design have very simple navigation.

I like this comment I found in an article "10 great examples of responsive design":

Whilst I agree with you around the fact that "responsive" has been over hyped (who'd have thought that this industry would go in for hypes - that has never happened before surely?) and that technically, it's not that hard to make something respond to the screen size, I do think "getting it right" can be difficult. For me, it is less about the code (although this is important) and more about the design and thinking behind the site. As the site "responds" to a shrinking size of glass, the trick is to try and preserve the UX, rather than have it "gracefully degrade" as we used to accept.

PaulH
02-26-2014, 02:32 AM
Here is an interesting article about M and M Direct's new responsive website and the increase in conversions they have seen from it.

http://internetretailing.net/2014/02/mandm-direct-boosts-mobile-conversion-rates-with-responsive-site

Kitty
02-26-2014, 02:32 AM
Kitty, this is my concern. The examples I see of "great" responsive design have very simple navigation.

I like this comment I found in an article "10 great examples of responsive design":

I accept that some people may not like or want responsive design for their business at the end of the day everything is down to personal choice.

My belief for my business is that people like simplicity and that this becomes more and more pertinent all the time.

This is the entire point I am making when I suggest that 'LEAN' principles best suit responsive design.

Have a browse around, there has been some very interesting research done around how reducing choice and complexity can improve conversion in overall commerce but particularly ecommerce web design.

An interesting idea is that if the pundits are right and desktop really is being usurped by mobile and tablet maybe we no longer should be designing for desktop that passes on mobile but turning it on it's head and designing for mobile/tablet that passes on desktop. However, you achieve this be it with a seperate mobile site or responsive design.

I have convinced myself for the last 2 years that mobile/tablet didn't matter very much to my customer base and that because of my personal dislike for any of the mobile implementations I had seen it wasn't something that I wanted or needed for my business.

I actually hold my hands up now and think I was probably quite wrong. That I am already later in the game than I should have been. But if Volusion's mobile solution had ever been credible maybe l would have figured this out much earlier. Now I just wish I had jumped ship last summer I can never get that time lost back.

GGG
02-26-2014, 05:18 AM
Make no mistake about it, I'm always looking ahead to new industry standards. Stay relevant or go home...as far as I can tell (given Google's guidelines) that means responsive design...and the only way my site is going to translate to responsive is with a huge redesign. I can't just turn on a switch. sigh.

However, on a personal level...I dislike mobile sites intensely...(no decision to be made with V since their mobile solution doesn't work for my store)...and I continue to research responsive design because I don't have the first clue where to begin and how I want to proceed. You can't just make it responsive and call it a day...it has to be good responsive. From what I've seen thus far...some sites are, some aren't.

I can't fathom how V is going to migrate 40k sites to responsive design. I would hope not forced, but a slow migration with ample time to make sure that everything is working properly...as other carts have done. Ditto attention to details...like reduced load times, etc.

Fortunately, we continue to grow despite my current state of research, confusion, and exasperation in trying to determine the best path (pun intended) for our customers...and our company.

Kitty, given Shopify's huge lead on responsive and knowing the research you put into everything...I'm sure you're heading to the right destination for your store.

Marc_NY
02-26-2014, 05:45 AM
Honestly, I really am hoping no banking on Volusion not making any attempts at forced responsive design as they will undoubtedly mess that up like everything else they attempt and that will be for sure our last last straw with them.

Kitty
02-26-2014, 06:50 AM
Thanks for the kind words GGG. I am just on a huge learning curve but sick of waiting around for V so just jumping in and giving it a go.


I can't fathom how V is going to migrate 40k sites to responsive design. I would hope not forced, but a slow migration with ample time to make sure that everything is working properly...as other carts have done. Ditto attention to details...like reduced load times, etc.

And I agree wholeheartedly with what Marc says here:


Honestly, I really am hoping no banking on Volusion not making any attempts at forced responsive design as they will undoubtedly mess that up like everything else they attempt and that will be for sure our last last straw with them.

These 2 sentiments have been two of the main drivers to me moving.

From recent experience of Volusion 'improvements' like Marc I dread to think of the 'nuclear fallout' of their attempts to migrate all stores to a responsive functionality. I just don't want to be around when that happens my last memories are that they struggled to implement a simple editor without screwing things up bigtime.

Like GGG having run a store within their existing skill sets (or lack of) the prospect is unfathomable.

So much so I just cannot envisage it happening in any other way than them offering responsive as either premium templates or bespoke design and there is no way I intend to throw more money at Volusion for 'premium' services.

I am just on a big learning curve jumping in with both feet and I am sure I am getting loads of things wrong but I am just giving it a go. Hey ho I enjoy a challenge.

KKS
02-26-2014, 07:13 AM
Kitty, most of my customer base is using tablet and mobile. I'm not trying to minimize the importance of catering to their needs and wants. Not at all. I am also very happy for you that you are making your move -- and I am looking forward to hearing your updates on the response you receive.

I'm just trying to work out how responsive design will apply to my site/industry.


My belief for my business is that people like simplicity and that this becomes more and more pertinent all the time.

This is the entire point I am making when I suggest that 'LEAN' principles best suit responsive design.
You know how lean my site is (except for the nested tables and other things I have no control over). It was even leaner when I first opened, the front page. This doesn't work for keeping up with my competitors who have tons of categories, and seems to be at odds with SEO in my industry. In the top 3 criticisms from my customers: I wish you offered more choices/stuff/designers. Customers in my industry want an infinite number of choices.

Kitty
02-26-2014, 08:41 AM
Thanks KKS. You have touched there on an important factor. Each of our businesses are unique and in a way have their own personalities and ecosystems, the problem with ecommerce in general is that we are forced by oligarchs like Google to try and comply with constrained sets of rules and parameters which don't necessarily suit our individual business models.

We are forced to attempt to try and present our businesses in a one size fits all to succeed. Research shows that it only takes 5% of a group to influence the remainder and this is what happens with people's expectations of online shopping which is why mass marketplaces like Amazon are so successful.

Copywriting makes me laugh you have web content experts now dictating how many words should be in a sentence, how many in a paragraph, what register it should be (don't use 'difficult' words)...Let's just throw the English language down the pan...Imagine how many great novels wouldn't have been written if you had some publisher dictating rules like this, that everyone needed to comply to, or your book wouldn't get printed.

That's what the web has become like.

KKS
02-26-2014, 08:58 AM
Don't get me started on what I think of search engines judging our sentence structure, grammar, and spelling. ;)

swilliams
02-26-2014, 09:35 AM
An interesting idea is that if the pundits are right and desktop really is being usurped by mobile and tablet maybe we no longer should be designing for desktop that passes on mobile but turning it on it's head and designing for mobile/tablet that passes on desktop. However, you achieve this be it with a seperate mobile site or responsive design.


Many responsive web designers/developers, myself included, believe that when going responsive you should have a "mobile-first" approach. Start with your mobile phone design and build up adapting and adding features as you scale up the various screen sizes. In my opinion this is more ideal than "degrading" an existing site. That said, often if you don't want the time/expense of a full redesign it may be easier to build in responsiveness to an existing desktop-first design.

swilliams
02-26-2014, 09:53 AM
I can't fathom how V is going to migrate 40k sites to responsive design. I would hope not forced, but a slow migration with ample time to make sure that everything is working properly...as other carts have done.


I may wind up eating these words, but I do not think Volusion will migrate anyone to responsive design - nor do I think they should.

There are several reasons why they would not move you:
1. They would never take on the expense.
2. Custom designs would make this an extremely difficult task.
3. It would be a PR nightmare (though they typically don't seem to care about this I know).

But here is the biggest reason: they aren't even going to move you to the new template system (IMO). You have to understand that the current template system will not be compatible with their new theming engine. I can't be. It will be completely different. Different template files, different variables, etc. There would be no way to efficiently move existing stores, especially given all the customizations out there.

I expect that they will roll out the new theming engine and version of Volusion (V14?) in parallel. I would think they will offer responsive templates that you can make you own as with the existing templates. You could then (initially) rely on the code of these templates for your responsiveness and modify (and break) it on your own.
I see them having to provision a test store or duplicate store on the upgraded version that you could use until ready to flip the switch and go live on the new version.

Responsive web design is not a standalone technology - it is a way of extending the same HTML, CSS, and sometimes Javascript technologies to get your site to respond depending on the screen size. Again, Volusion does not have some sort of limiter than prevents responsiveness; their template system is built on a type of HTML (tables) that is not capable of responding. The solution, then, is not to build responsiveness into Volusion. The solution is to rebuild to the template system in a way that allows for div based HTML where we have greater control of the templates.

I think this is often a point of confusion.

It is for this reason that although 3dcart and Bigcommerce only recently released responsive templates that could be used you have been able to build responsive sites on those platforms for a long time. Because we have deep control of the templates on those systems.

So.... I do not at all see Volusion converting all their 40K stores to a div based system and then further modifying them to be responsive. There has to be some other solution. My guess, again, is that they make it available in parallel with some free or paid templates available that you can use as a foundation.

Hope that helps clear things up as opposed to confusing it further.

Kitty
02-26-2014, 11:44 AM
Agree totally as I have kept hinting they are more likely to offer existing stores a premium template at a cost or want to charge you for design services.

Ha ha like Scott I guess I may end up eating my words when they give something they scraped up of the dev room floor away for free whether that will function or not is another instalment in the next exciting episode of The Hammer House of Volusion.

ritchey
02-26-2014, 12:07 PM
My guess is Volusion will offer Responsive templates, and there will be no way to upgrade your template. You will be able to modify a new template to look like your old one. My understanding with Volusion templates, is different templates have access to different Volusion hard coding currently. So to get the latest and greatest features, you need to be using a newer template as a base / foundation.

I am still thinking Q4 at the earliest.

Kitty
02-26-2014, 01:52 PM
I am sure with Volusions 'expertise' at marketing if they had Responsive templates coming anytime in the next 3 months they would have already started using it on the sign up page.

GoDataFeed
03-02-2015, 01:58 PM
I can't stand shopping 'classic mobile' sites (I'm the shopper who clicks the full site link) but as an owner I want to make sure that the responsive design we serve up will be the best that it can be.

So true. But whatever your stance on responsive design as a user, there's no disputing the value of having a mobile-friendly site as a merchant. Especially now with the announcement that mobile-friendly sites will rank higher on Google organic.


Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

Some might argue that's been the case for awhile, but now it's official per Google.

FYI, here is Google's own tool to check for "mobile friendliness": https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

GGG
03-04-2015, 09:21 AM
Thanks, GDF.

I'm confident that most of the forum users know how important mobile friendly is.... the tricky part is getting it done.

eellsworth
03-04-2015, 09:55 AM
Here's my take and your choices:



Use Volusion's mobile version which we know is loaded with usability issues and is not the path Google wants you to go - Cost: $0
Migrate to Volusion's interim responsive system - Cost: $$
Wait for the AngularJS template system and migrate at that time - Cost: $$$
Leave Volusion - Cost: $$$$$


From the volume of stores we work with mobile and tablet traffic is a large portion and 99% have an absolutely poor conversion rate on the mobile side. You're already losing business...even if you have option #1 implemented.

From a business perspective I don't see how you can ignore option #2. Yes it isn't perfect but it accomplishes two main objectives:



Makes your store responsive and provides a better experience than what your clients have now; and
Meets Google's requirements for the 4/21 deadline


Waiting for Option #3: it will be here eventually, but then you have another set of challenges:



You have to wait for the official release
Find a developer (yes, your nephew's bff who knows CSS can't do this for you)
Completely rebuild your entire template
Put it on a sandbox and test and refine
Relaunch your store
Hope that AngularJS will not negatively affect your SEO because of the technology and how it is implemented


IMHO the opportunity lost is already costing you and I am very surprised how many people are not moving forward with something to make their store better. What do you think your competitors are doing? Those non-Volusion stores are adapting their stores and getting better. Every day you wait you're falling behind.

You're going to pay...one way or another. Most of your stores go in lockdown by October 1 for the holiday season so that gives you 7 months. Option #3 is a probably a 3 month process...from the day Volusion releases it. And I doubt many of you want to take the risk of launching a completely new platform on September 30...you'll want the dust to settle and make adjustments. So you will want to finish the migration to AngularJS by September 1. You need to get started by the beginning of June.

Does anyone trust a 1.0 release from Volusion? The matter of fact from any software vendor? There will be issues and a learning curve so you're really talking about a 4-5 month process.

Your window is closing folks. Even when it does come out you're talking about 25,000 stores who will be looking for AngularJS developers...might be a little line.

GGG
03-04-2015, 10:37 AM
Agree on all points, Erik. That's why I ultimately went with option 2 when Google announced. I'll blow more $ after V finally releases the angular... when all is working properly and devs/templates are readily available. I thought you said the slugs (or whatever they're called) were going to help with SEO on the new framework?

Unfortunately, it's STILL difficult to find people who can help with option #2. Total rework of my nav menus, current customizations, styling. God help me because I need a miracle!

Marc_NY
03-04-2015, 11:06 AM
I agree with Erik for the most part. I think the only realistic option available for the majority of Volusion users are either option 2 or 4. Option 1 is not even an option and option 3 is not a viable option for Grandma's of the world. It's not an option for me so it certainly not one for Grandma.

eellsworth
03-04-2015, 11:38 AM
Agree on all points, Erik. That's why I ultimately went with option 2 when Google announced. I'll blow more $ after V finally releases the angular... when all is working properly and devs/templates are readily available. I thought you said the slugs (or whatever they're called) were going to help with SEO on the new framework?

Unfortunately, it's STILL difficult to find people who can help with option #2. Total rework of my nav menus, current customizations, styling. God help me because I need a miracle!

Triple G...we're about to finish up 12 responsive sites (non-Volusion) so if you or others are looking to meet the April 21 deadline, please reach out to me as we are setting priorities now for the V sites we're about to migrate.

ritchey
03-04-2015, 11:40 AM
For option 2, do you need to use a Volusion paid template, or is their Free one workable?

GGG
03-04-2015, 12:08 PM
I agree with Erik for the most part. I think the only realistic option available for the majority of Volusion users are either option 2 or 4. Option 1 is not even an option and option 3 is not a viable option for Grandma's of the world. It's not an option for me so it certainly not one for Grandma.

GASP!!!!!!! No way I'm going to let that one pass.

I said when/if it's working properly and templates/devs are readily available for hire and up to speed.... about three years from now. (sarcasm... still smarting from the January 2014 announcement when this thread was started)

If I can't do it, then neither can about 30k or more Volusion stores without devs on hand. So a huge waste of V's time? Most of us are not devs, designers, or coders... just entrepreneurs. I suspect that's why they run optimizely in my admin. Probably an 'average' customer.

I may be a proud Grandma, but I'm not stupid and I'm not above asking questions. Lots of them. I'm not dead yet, so don't count me out. (and YOU'RE gonna' miss me when I'm gone... who else would try your patience!). ;)

eellsworth
03-04-2015, 12:10 PM
For option 2, do you need to use a Volusion paid template, or is their Free one workable?

We can work with the free one as a basis of migration.

The premium templates really only add some nice-to-have bells and whistles. They add in some framework stuff and extra JS for functionality but the overall coding is basically the same.

If you like features from the premium templates we can typically just add them.

Rick H.
03-05-2015, 11:37 AM
Errg. Just studying the free responsive templates. Specifically, the category pages. Volusion hard coded in some the the css. Seriously? More stupid crap from Volusion.

Rick H.
03-05-2015, 11:44 AM
Errg. Just studying the free responsive templates. Specifically, the category pages. Volusion hard coded in some the the css. Seriously? More stupid crap from Volusion.

Specifically, the so-called grid they just updated. Unbelievable if it it was any other company. Totally believable with all the stupid shi* that Volusion does.

Phil
04-13-2016, 04:19 PM
Volusion mananger to intern on discovering all the senior coders have gone to lunch/ sxsw/ wherever: "Hey, just tweak the category page design will you, the bosses wife says they should be pink".

Volusion intern working on responsive template: "Oh sure, I can just put that in here, ok?"

Manager: "fine, whatever, I'm missing my massage".

KKS
04-14-2016, 08:49 AM
Phil, which changes are you referring to? I saw the change of the responsive subcategory thumbnails. I thought that was a new option. Haven't had time to look at it yet. Is that what you are using? Would like to see an example of it in use.