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Should my mobile strategy focus on responsive design?

Responsive design websites automatically adapt to provide easy viewing across multiple devices, but that alone is not always enough for mobile users.

Responsive design makes websites flexible enough to handle a variety of browsing devices, but is that enough to...

meet mobile users' expectations? When should my mobile strategy focus on responsive Web design?

The simple principle underlying responsive Web design is delivering optimal viewing and interactive experiences for users, regardless of the device. For example, a responsive website allows users to view and access content easily on smartphones, tablets or PCs.

The underlying technologies rely on third-generation Web content management (WCM) systems that manage content in chunks, together with templates that dynamically adapt displays, links and points of interaction to the different screen sizes of various devices.

Responsive Web design is good for multichannel publishing and multichannel interactions -- when one environment spans multiple devices and business contexts. An e-zine is a prime example. The publisher wants to ensure readers can access and view the same content on mobile devices and PCs alike. The viewing experience is simply optimized for particular channels. Thus, navigation links to related content that are displayed horizontally on a full-screen webpage can be automatically transformed into a vertical list for a small-screen smart phone.

However, not all mobile experiences are comparable to using a PC. Mobile users are out and about -- often engaged in various activities and looking for content snippets in the moment. They are snacking on information, not sitting down for a three-course meal. Their devices also generate data, such as current location or camera images, which can help to shape experiences.

Responsive web design is not adequate for optimizing short-duration and task-oriented mobile experiences. For these kinds of use cases, focus your mobile strategy on mobile apps and related back-end environments that mobilize the high-value moments of engagement. This will require investments in additional tools and technologies beyond a WCM system.

Next Steps

WCM evolves for new mobile tasks 

MBaaS improves mobile experiences 

Google shift underscores importance of mobile

This was last published in July 2015

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