March 19, 2013, 10:02 AM

Horze trots out new responsive web design sites

The equestrian supplies retailer has increased mobile conversion by 19%.

Horze, an equestrian supplies merchant headquartered in Oslo, Norway, has jumped into the vanguard of mobile commerce by launching mobile-friendly responsive web design sites for consumers in the U.S. and seven European countries. Since it launched the new sites in February, its mobile conversion rate has increased 19% and pages per visit have increased 20%, the retailer reports.

16% of Horze’s total web sales come from mobile devices. 10% of traffic stems from smartphones and another 10% from tablets.

Responsive design is a technique that enables a retailer to design a single site with a single set of content that detects the kind of device requesting a web page and lays out the page in a way that fits content to the size of the device’s screen. The alternative path is to maintain separate commerce sites for smartphones, tablets and computers.

“For us it seemed going with a responsive site was a natural first step after we had considered the options,” a Horze spokeswoman says. “The positive thing with the responsive site is that we have not majorly changed any of our merchandising operations or design tasks, and the work we do adapts well for mobile. So far the results are promising both internally and how the audience has reacted to it. We continue to research whether our mobile design needs to be refined further, and also whether we should develop an app.”

Horze’s in-house team of developers built the responsive design sites. The retailer declines to say how much the sites cost, but says it took the internal development team three months to build. Horze says it would have taken three times the amount of development time had it gone down the alternate route of building a smartphone site and a tablet site in addition to maintaining a site geared to desktop and laptop computers.

Developers built the responsive site using the free Bootstrap framework from Twitter. Bootstrap uses responsive Cascading Style Sheets to create pages of different shapes and sizes for different computer monitors and mobile device screens. The framework speeds and eases web site development, the spokeswoman says.

Developers created the home page with other areas of the site in mind, namely product category pages. Horze says only a small percentage of shoppers arrive at one of the Horze sites via the home page, so it developed a home page that could be duplicated for category pages to ensure shoppers see important information.

“The new layout gives us more options in getting messages to our customers,” the spokeswoman says. “We know few people land on the site via the home page, so for us it has been important to develop ways to message deals and promotions on many different landing pages.”

While the new sites have been successful at converting more mobile shoppers, Horze says it will continually test usability to make sure it is providing shoppers with the best design.

The retailer’s responsive sites include Horze.com, Horze.de, Horze.se, Horze.ru, Horze.no, Horze.dk, Horze.nl and Horze.fi.

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