Anatomy of a mobile web experience: google.com | DeviceAtlas

The first point to note here is that Google serves an entirely different HTML document to each device that I emulated—the superficially similar pages that we see on google.com are in fact radically altered depending on the device you’re holding. Google changes essentially every aspect of the HTML and its delivery to ensure a good experience. At a very basic level, the pages are cosmetically altered (logo resizing etc.) to fit the device perfectly but in fact the adaptation goes much deeper than that: Google change the very document type delivered, whether or not compression is utilized in its delivery, the extent to which CSS and JavaScript are utilized, CSS vendor prefixes and so on. The range of adaption is impressive in its scope—Google go far beyond merely fitting everything onto the screen.

via Anatomy of a mobile web experience: google.com | DeviceAtlas.

This is interesting analysis. I would like to see a study like this done for a broad range of popular site and brands.

Fully optimizing the mobile experience on the full range of mobile devices can’t be done with responsive design alone. Investing in additional HTML formats based on device detection makes sense for Google, Amazon, Facebook and others who can justify it with a tangible ROI.

This does not take any of the value away from a responsive design approach. Responsive Design makes a great deal of sense for businesses who can’t justify the effort required to build and maintain multiple sites or experiences.

What’s more, even if you have custom experiences for less capable devices, you should definitely consider making the rich experience responsive for a range of devices capable of delivering this higher level of experience.

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