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We're more than halfway through 2014 -- the year when mobile usage will surpass desktop computing -- but many marketers and technologists are still scratching their heads about the best way to create a satisfying experience for mobile customers.

"Mobile is going to be there all the time. It's going to be in your face. So, really, are you ready for that?," asked Fred Faulkner, director of marketing and digital strategist for ICF Interactive (formerly CITYTECH). During a CMSWire webinar yesterday, he fired off a series of questions to mobile minded managers on the call. (Watch the Webinar)

"Are we ready for the 2.3 billion people who are going to be using smartphones by 2017? Are we ready for the fact that, of the smartphone users today, 62 percent are expecting a mobile friendly website?," he asked.

Understanding Choices

Faulkner joined with Scott Infante, IT manager for business intelligence and integration at FirstEnergy Corp., to help the audience understand its options in mobile. Each path came with some good news and some bad news, so it's important to pick the strategy that best fits a particular business.

A poll conducted during the webinar found that each of the options was being used by at least some of the audience members, but none was being used by a majority. Responsive design and the mobile web were the most popular choices.

Four Paths

Here's a short summary of each option, based on Faulkner's more detailed explanations:

Responsive Design is the most far reaching approach. It translates a specially designed website to any sort of mobile device by finding pre set "break points." Those break points convert a complex page into chunks of content that are stacked in a manner that suits the device. 

The good news is that it's quick to market and less costly because there is just one development team needed. The bad news is that it can't take advantage of many features in smartphones because it isn't designed for that device. Also, those breakpoints make life more complicated for those creating the content.

"It makes a content author have to think about content in what I would call a multidimensional way," he said. "Those of you who have a lot of tables on your website are not going to find responsive design very useful because responsive design doesn't handle tables very well."