Consumers are using multiple devices to interact with your business online. This multi-screen behavior is quickly becoming the norm, and understanding it has become imperative for businesses. Most businesses can not justify building mobile apps to support different devices but having a website that is optimized for all devices is imperative.

In August of 2012 Google published a report titled "The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior" where they discovered that 90% of people move between different devices to accomplish a goal, whether that’s on smartphones, PCs, tablets or TV. Although mobile applications which are downloaded to the device can provide a much better user experience on a mobile device people prefer using their mobile browser. In fact, 60% of tablet users prefer reading news on the mobile web than via an app. While there are many cases where a mobile app can be a better solution, the majority of companies should first ensure their website is built to respond to all screen sizes.

The solution, of course, is to make a website that works equally well on every device. This is accomplished by designing the website using "responsive web design" techniques. A responsive web design uses techniques to figure out the screen resolution of the device requesting the website. Based on the screen size, the website layout and images are sized correctly to fit the screen. If you're viewing this website on a desktop browser, for example, try making your browser window smaller. The images and content areas will shrink, then the sidebar will move to the bottom of the web page. On our homepage, you'll see 2 and 3 columns areas shrink to a singular column of content.

Using this type of website architecture also provides the ability to change the site's behavior accordingly. For example, on touch devices different user controls can be used to enable swiping between columns or replacing horizontal menus with dropdown menus.

The benefits of this approach over building mobile websites or applications for each device is obvious: You build a website once, and it works seamlessly across thousands of different screens. One of the best examples of this approach is The Boston Globe website. The images below show how the website adjusts based on the screen size of the device accessing it.

First the website viewed by a large desktop monitor:

Boston Globe Large Screen

Next, here is an image of the same website on a smaller resolution device, such as a 10" tablet:

Boston Globe Tablet

And finally, the website on a mobile phone:

Boston Globe phone

If your website is not optimized for your customers who are engaged in this multi-screen life, contact us today for a quote to upgrade your website for a better mobile experience.