We are taking it with us wherever we go. The web used to be on our desktop behind our computer monitor but not any longer, it has been set free and placed on just about every conceivable screen size. We never know as website owners what size screen the visitor will use, so websites need to be elastic to to fit a range of screens. This is known as responsive web design.
It is not about a web design for the iPhone, a design for the iPad and then a design for the computer. If the web development is done correctly the website should respond for all of those devices and for devices that haven’t even been created yet. A flexible design that will adjust like liquid being poured into a container.
Google says that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and even goes so far as to refer to it as industry best practice: One website and one access point for multiple devices.
Internet browsing is transient
People regularly move from device to device to complete tasks. For example, someone searches for a product on their smartphone during a lunch break at work; they find a website with the product they’re looking for and decide to continue on their computer when they get home. Usage patterns show that this is the way visitors are behaving, so much so that the major web browsers have created syncronised browsing. If you are signed in, Google Chrome it will copy open browser tabs from your mobile to your computer and vice versa, totally seamless browsing.
Buying a product online or managing travel arrangements no longer occurs on a single device, most users move between several screens in a single day to complete their tasks. This Infographic on Understanding cross-platform consumer behaviour was published on the Google web development blog. It is all about how people interact with online media via various devices.
It is definitely true that users are looking at websites on their mobile devices when they are out and about and then revisiting those websites when they get home. In fact 90% of people move between devices to accomplish their goal. I very often will bookmark a website on my iPhone for later viewing and the same when I am half watching TV with a tablet device. If I sit to watch TV these days it is always with a tablet computer in hand, multi-tasking and ‘half-watching’ seems to be a way of life for so many of us now.
The message therefore is clear and simple, a website design that is not mobile friendly is going to lose out. Responsive web design is a must for all web development projects.