Rethinking Your Website Design

Dec 02, 2014


Does One Size Really Fit All?

We all know the drill. Today’s web users want sites that provide an optimal viewing experience, easy reading and simple navigation, regardless of whether they’re on their iPhone, their tablet or their oversized desktop monitor.

Yet with so many mobile devices and screen dimensions out there, many one-size-fits-all websites are having trouble keeping up. Too many devices and sizes are causing chaos for developers—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s where your choice of website design comes in. You’ve got two options–responsive web design (RWD) and adaptive web delivery (AWD). Both can get the job done, but of course, each has their pros and cons. It really comes down to a choice of tradeoffs: time, cost and usage. Let’s take a closer look at the two options.

Option 1: Responsive Web Design (RWD)

This approach delivers a single layout for all devices.

How It Works: Responsive design is client-side, which means the web page is sent to the device browser (the client). It uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and media queries to detect the device’s screen size and then modifies the appearance of the page in relation to the size of the browser window.

Main Advantage: One of the great benefits of responsive design is that a single website code base can serve both mobile and desktop users. It removes the maintenance nightmare of multiple code versions targeted at different device types.

Option 2: Adaptive Web Delivery (AWD)

Unlike RWD, adaptive web delivery provides a distinct layout that’s optimized for each device.

How It Works: AWD is predominantly server-side, which means the web server does all of the work to detect the various devices and load the correct style sheet depending on the device attributes.

Main Disadvantage: While AWD’s customized delivery seems ideal, there are some downsides. The initial construction is time-consuming and costly since so many layouts need to be designed. Also, the maintenance and updates of multiple layouts represent an ever steeper financial investment.

The Goal: Ultimately you want to create a simple viewing and navigation experience with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling, across a wide range of devices. Fortunately, you have two great choices for getting you there.

Need more help? Watch for my next post in this series: Responsive Web Design vs. Adaptive Web Delivery: Which Is Right for You? or Contact Us Today.

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