One of the biggest arguments since the boom of mobile is whether you should develop a responsive, adaptive web design (AWD) or a separate mobile site (with its own URL). Standalone mobile might seem to be a less optimal solution for businesses as it is created separately, adding development and maintenance costs. But is that point crucial in winning the battle for customers? Let’s dive into the topic and see if we can make an informed decision on this matter.
WHAT IS ADAPTIVE WEB-DESIGN?
Adaptive web design is the building of a website structure, which automatically changes the page depending on the user's screen size. In simple terms, it is a webpage layout that automatically adjusts to the size of the user's screen. This feature can be realized through different solutions and called differently (which is a bit confusing): adaptive, responsive, dynamic web design.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADAPTIVE AND RESPONSIVE DESIGN
In simple words, responsive is fluid and can adapt to any size of the screen no matter what the device is. With the help of CSS media queries responsive web design changing styles get data from the target device data such as display type, width, height, etc.
Moreover, only one of these parameters is needed for the responsive website to react adapting to different screens.
On the other hand, there is adaptive design realized through a number of static layouts that don’t change once they’re loaded.
Adaptive website detects the screen size and loads the corresponding layout – normally there are six screen widths used in adaptive web design: 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200 and 1600.
BENEFITS OF ADAPTIVE WEB-DESIGN
Responsiveness is considered as the most important requirement for a modern website, especially in the current environment of search engine optimization and mobile. These are the main benefits of adaptive websites:
CONVENIENCE FOR USERS
Such sites are convenient for viewing on any device: from smartphones and tablets to TVs. If the page remains readable only on the desktop, and the mobile user has to make some effort to tap on the element or even just read the content, the bounce rate on the site increases dramatically.
Without adaptability, the site loses a huge segment of the audience that is associated with mobile devices. And, of course, the traffic that they could bring.
HIGHER CONVERSION RATE
There are studies that show that responsive web design can lead to a 10.9% increase in visitor-to-buyer conversion rates. Responsiveness is critical for commercial web sites, where inconvenience directly leads to lower conversions and a drop in business profits.
IMPROVED AND MORE ACCURATE WEB ANALYTICS
Having only one site (not two, as with the mobile version) makes it easier to calculate key business performance indicators.
MORE ECONOMICAL IN THE LONG RUN
Instead of designing a site for different screen sizes every time, responsive web design can only be created once and forever.
SEAMLESS USER EXPERIENCE
For example, in retail, a customer may start their journey on a mobile device and continue on a desktop or laptop. You can maintain the user experience at every touchpoint.
One site is faster and easier to manage.
There is no duplication of content, as is the case when there are two or more versions of the site.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADAPTIVE AND MOBILE WEBSITE
Technically, a mobile version of a site on a subdomain is a separate, independent site. An adaptive site is a mobile and desktop in one package, as it can adapt to any type of user device. It is worth noting several advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.
SEPARATE MOBILE VERSION ON A SUBDOMAIN
- Loads faster.
- Better usability.
- Easier to create, as the functionality is significantly curtailed.
- The mobile user can choose which version of the site he needs at the moment.
- Limited functionality.
- Search engines see multiple versions of the same page at once.
- It is not possible to publish all the content available in the full version of the site.
- Possible sanctions of search engines: if you duplicate the already published content of the main version on the mobile version of the site.
- Loading page content may suffer if redirects are used.
- Simple implementation.
- Easier for crawlers to scan.
- You don't need to use redirects.
- It's easier to optimize your site for SEO.
- No need to generate additional URLs.
- Sharing the content of pages is more convenient, since the content is located within the same domain.
- All previously accumulated indicators remain with you, and you don’t need to be afraid that the pages will suddenly fly out of the index or not get into it at all.
- You cannot switch between the full and mobile version of the site.
- Difficulties can occur if the site uses non-standard functionality.
- The loading speed is slower than the mobile version of the site.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE IMPLEMENTING RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Cross browser compatibility
Yes, even in 2022 we have to talk about it. Make sure the site will support it. Ensure that usability remains impeccable regardless of which browser the user is using.
Emphasis on your users type of device
When designing, focus on the specific type of device that brings the most traffic to the site.
Consider the scale of the site
If we are talking about a one-page landing that was originally designed only for mobile traffic, there is not much point in creating a complex adaptive design. You can create a universal mobile version for all types of devices.
Testing, testing, testing
Be sure to check the correct behavior of the page on different types of devices. See how all the important elements (like buttons on a contact form) behave.
SOME EXAMPLES OF GOOD RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN:
With technical difficulties (a limited budget, for example), you can make the site partially adaptive: for example, work out only the main sections and pages that provide the most traffic.