Web Development

Desktop vs. Tablet vs. Mobile: A Unique User Experience

5 minute read

By now responsive design is old news. Every web designer knows that your website should scale to whatever device visitors use to access it. Your site should look just as clean on a cell phone as it does on a desktop. In order to achieve this, many developers initially create their site on a mobile device and then scale it to fit tablets and desktops.

UX & user behavior by device

In some cases, this may not be a bad approach, but it’s important to remember that a user’s experience on a cell phone is much different from their experience on a desktop computer. Although important activities such as online banking are becoming more and more popular on cell phones, more complicated online activities usually take place on desktops or tablets.

For example, if you were going on vacation and had to book a hotel, flight and rental car, chances are you probably wouldn’t do it on a cell phone. Cell phones aren’t used for complicated activities like planning a vacation. These types of activities are usually reserved for larger devices like desktops or laptops.

It’s important to understand the behaviors that happen on each device. Catering your design to specific behaviors will create a much more enjoyable user experience.

Cell phone users tend to prefer simple tasks. They are usually on the go and are often switching between looking up directions, responding to a text, and answering emails. For this reason, cell phone-specific websites should be easy to navigate and should have the most important features front and center.

Tablets are larger than cell phones, but they are still mobile in nature. When considering web design for a tablet, it’s important to consider the limited use of the keyboard. Tablet web sites should be easy to navigate without typing. This might mean adding drop down menus, selection boxes, or swipe-to-turn capability.

Lastly, desktops and laptops are used for the most complex activities. They also tend to be the fastest processing devices. Therefore, desktop specific websites can have the richest and most complex content. They should still be user friendly, but the site can offer more options and content.

If your website is used strictly for content consumption and doesn’t require much interaction, having one responsive website may be appropriate. But if you have an interactive site, you may want to review the way your site is displayed. If you need some help, inSegment’s experienced web development team can create web sites for all sorts of needs.