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Responsive or Adaptive Web design

Have you heard the term “post-PC world” before? It’s been popularised over the past few years when people have been speaking about the fall of the desktop computer. With recent figures indicating a surge in web surfing from mobile devices, from 30% to 50% according to different studies, are we now living in a post-PC world?

If so… What does this mean to you as a business owner?

The One World Wide Web Approach

The W3C, or the World Wide Web consortium, has invented the phrase “one web approach”. The word refers to the concept of responsive and adaptive design techniques that are used to ensure that the same content and services are available to users, to the extent that is reasonable, regardless of the device they are using.

From a developer’s point of view, this not only means making sure a site works on the smartphones and shelves that exist today, but also ensuring it will work on whatever else tomorrow brings.

As a company, this also means making sure that not only is your website built with adaptive or reactive design techniques, but also that the company engaged in this development is thinking about the future while handling your issues today.

What's the point of One Web ?

This may sound evident to some people but there are sufficient websites that indicate otherwise to be stated; websites that are optimized solely for a screen desktop are an endangered breed. They are like a cave man in the world of today. Even if you follow this alternative, the site will not be optimized for the desktop screen. Even if you follow this option, the mobile site is only optimized for a certain screen size in relation to the existing range of mobile devices, which always causes problems.

Remember that those mobile browsing numbers that are in the 30-50% range will remain stable, if not increase further. This implies that a decent percentage of customers will try to reach your website via a digital device. For sites that aren’t intuitive or don’t resize or load impossibly slowly, this means a quick loss of visitors, which means less conversions.

You must remember that all of the page elements and assets on each and every page must be uploaded before a Page, like ecommerce, can be used. Bigger web pages equal longer load times. While this may not be a big deal for the individual browsing at home with a cable Internet connection, for the shopper on their tablet utilizing Starbucks wifi, the loading speeds are a huge issue. Stats show that your conversion rate drops 3.5% when mobile viewers have to Wait a second. If you believe that’s bad, in three seconds, 57% of those users will have abandoned your site based on Radware’s statistics.

Responsive or adaptive?

So when you are going to use the “One Web” design approach, which design style you should adopt? Let’s review the choices briefly:

Responsive – This is the most popular approach that alters the presentation of a web page according to the size of the display device. There are some design advantages that can ease the developers’ task. For this kind of designing, you will often have to do a full rebuild of the website. This plays well for those designing a site for the mobile user first and then evolving to the desktops. This can cause some challenges for sites that have a lot of features and images, but this is alleviated if there are easier features.

Adaptive – Adaptive is different from a development direction in that it relies on predefined screen sizes. It is usually a more streamlined layered approached that uses scripting to facilitate adapting to devices and screen sizes. In this case, it is the server hosting the website that senses the device from which a request is coming and therefore delivers a different code based on the device. Ideally, this type of site can more precisely capture the user’s intention on a mobile device. In addition, a developer does not have to recode the whole of the existing website from scratch. Lastly, adaptive sites are generally much better in terms of load time performances, allowing for a more positive user interface experience.

The result – The choice between adaptive or responsive design very much depends on the intention of your site, but you certainly should use one or another. We live in a somewhat post-PC world and it only makes good sense to take the “One Web” approach instead of loosing customers and these important conversions.