When it comes to holding people’s attention spans in an age of constant distractions, every second counts. Even a minor issue with your website can result in a huge increase in bounce rates. That’s why providing an impeccable user experience is more important than ever.
But that’s a lot harder to achieve now that people are using a far greater variety of devices to connect to the internet. In the old days, web designers only had to worry about accommodating a screen resolution of 1024×768, since that was by far the most common. Today, people are browsing the web using their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops with monitors with a wide range of aspect ratios.
Should you prioritize mobile users?
It’s often said that businesses should provide a mobile-first browsing experience, but depending on your customer base, that might not always be the case. While consumers typically prefer to browse on the small screen, many still prefer to shop online using a desktop device. If your target audience is business users, then chances are more of your visitors will be using desktop devices.
However, these are only general rules. Website audiences can vary enormously depending on your niche and your audience. Ideally, your website needs to be able to accommodate all visitors, whether they’re using a tiny smartwatch or a sprawling ultrawide desktop display. This can be challenging, since you need a website that scales to any screen size and, preferably, any aspect ratio and resolution. Both adaptive and responsive design methods can address these concerns, but each option has its benefits and drawbacks.
What is responsive design?
A responsive website automatically scales to the size of the screen it’s being displayed on by rearranging page elements. Responsive websites even scale on a desktop device when you change the size of the window. Also, most of them have components that are miniaturized when displayed on small screens. For example, mobile navigation menus, popularly known as hamburger menus, automatically replace the ones displayed on desktops.
From a technical standpoint, responsive design uses media queries in HTML or CSS to target thresholds that scale images, blocks of text, and the layout of the site. However, almost all premium website themes for popular content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress and Joomla are responsive, so there’s rarely any need to code something from scratch.
What is adaptive design?
At first glance, an adaptive website might appear to be the same as a responsive one, but there are some important differences. Adaptive design defines fixed layouts for screen sizes it supports, rather than having a single, static page as with responsive design. Adaptive websites also use enhancements that change the underlying code depending on the device capabilities.
As with responsive design, you will only need one website, so there’s no need to share content across different ones. But in adaptive design, a distinct template is designed with each device category in mind and is automatically applied. This means that while adaptive design provides a highly targeted experience to each user, it lacks versatility and is harder to implement.
Which method should you use?
For most small businesses, by far the quickest and easiest method is to use an open-source content management system, install a responsive theme, and customize it with your branding. It’s a versatile, low-maintenance, and budget-friendly solution that’s standard in most industries. But for more complex websites, as well as those that are heavily dependent on high performance, an adaptive design is usually superior.
Cyber Shift Technologies shifts your IT into high gear to turn your technology from a costly liability into an affordable asset that drives business growth. Call us today to request your free consultation.