One of the largest mobile phone debates among developers is between developing mobile websites using an adaptive or responsive web design. If you’re accessing a website using your mobile phone (and it’s easy to view), the developer probably built the site using one of the two designs. Both methods can prepare your website for mobile use, but they do it in very different ways.
Understanding Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design offers an optimal viewing experience regardless of the device used to access the website. Furthermore, it provides users with a friendlier navigation and reading experience, as it involves minimum scrolling, panning, and resizing. No matter how much you adjust the screen, the same layout will automatically configure to that size.
Understanding Adaptive Web Design
Adaptive web design utilizes several distinct layouts for various screen sizes, with the layout depending on the screen size used. A web designer makes these layouts in advance and ensures that there’s a layout assigned specifically for a device. These designs wait on standby until a user visits the site. Once the site detects the device type, it will load the preconfigured layout for that device.
Considering Screen Size
If you are using a responsive web design strategy, it may be hard for your site to adapt to various screen sizes. You’ll need to pay close attention to the site’s CSS to ensure that it views properly on any possible size. On the other hand, while it’s easier to design an adaptive website, the webpage will only look great on a predefined number of screens. Thus, if companies like Apple or Google release a device with a new screen size, there’s a possibility that none of your adaptive layouts will show the site well.
Considering Site Speed
When considering site load times, an adaptive website will lag as it needs to load all possible layouts. Conversely, responsive websites are faster as it will only load one layout for all platforms. While responsive websites may seem to have an edge, its site load speed may suffer if the developer does not implement the codes properly.
This comparison should help you in choosing a web design strategy. No matter what design option you choose, always consider your audience first. It will be easier to make the best choice when you know who they are and what devices they use to access your site.