As our reliance on technology continues to escalate and the release of new devices becomes a perennial event, the importance of optimizing websites for a variety of purposes has surged to the forefront.
This objective is typically achieved via two primary methods: Adaptive and Responsive Web Design. Many people are not familiar with the distinctive characteristics that separate these two styles.
Why Website Design and User Interface Are Important
In any endeavor whether it’s for business or simply to communicate with your intended audience, it’s important to consider the end-user. With web design, there is no difference.
You want to ensure that those browsing your website have the best experience possible and this includes loading times, design and user interface. You’ve probably experienced times when you’ve tried to load a website on mobile but the dimensions don’t fit or are difficult to read.
Because of the multitude of devices we use on a daily basis, the businesses that optimize for all formats will have (all other things being equal) higher customer retention which is why you should consider this the next time you build your website.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is one of the most common ways that websites are reformatted and probably the easiest because the site’s layout adjusts seamlessly according to the screen size it’s viewed on.
The technique uses flexible grids and layouts, along with images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. It’s geared towards delivering an optimal user experience, whether on a phone, tablet, laptop, or a large desktop screen.
In essence, responsive design ensures easy readability, effective navigation, and minimal resizing, regardless of the device in use, making a website truly universal. It is a simple and fluid method that allows users to access your website on any device.
What is Adaptive Web Design?
Adaptive web design, on the other hand, is more tricky as it involves creating multiple designs for different screen sizes – from smartphones to PC screens. These layouts detect the device and/or screen resolution through scripts and then unroll the appropriate layout based on the device used.
The programmer of the website defines fixed screen sizes for each design. This means, rather than simply seeing a reshuffle of images and content the user will usually see more drastic variation of the site between their mobile and large screen devices.
Whether you’re a freelancer, web designer or simply looking to create a website, it’s important to know the difference between these two, let’s go through the defining characteristics of each so you’re better equipped for your next project.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Responsive and Adaptive Web Design
Now that we have gone through some of the differences between both designs, let’s dive into their advantages and disadvantages.
Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is great as it is more flexible and will allow everyone to access your URL. Since you’re only using one URL, it means that website maintenance is straightforward.
It is also an SEO-friendly option because having multiple websites might make it harder for your content to rank overall. The disadvantages include the website loading times on mobile due to the size of the content being on smaller screens.
Adaptive Web Design
Adaptive web design does well on loading time and page speed, providing users with the best user experience on all devices. Because each page is tailored for every device designers are certain that every access point for websites is optimized.
The only drawback, though, is the time it takes to build all these options as well as having to perform maintenance for different designs. It can also be difficult to rank on SEO if you have a range of URLs for your website.
How to Choose the Right Approach for Your Project
It can be tricky to know which one is the best for your project, but it really depends on your budget and what kinds of devices your customers are using. For new projects, it is probably smart to use responsive as it can be more cost-effective and later upgrade to adaptive when you have a better understanding of what mediums your customers are accessing your website.
Additionally, if your main focus is SEO with your website it might be better to only use responsive website designs and spend some more time optimizing for the responsive formats.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to web design is that you must think about what your audience needs and how they’ll be accessing your website.
While responsive and adaptive websites have their own advantages, it’s best to weigh these against on your needs.
In some cases one could work much better than the other. So in the end, considering your budget and customer needs will result in the best outcome.