Responsive vs Adaptive Websites
Responsive vs. Adaptive Websites: Six Questions To Ask
So before you start building (or improving) your own business website, consider asking and answering the following questions:
- Do visitors interact with the site much differently on mobile versus desktop? When you analyze data, what does it reveal about mobile users? You might find that your mobile users are looking for one or two specific types of information. If that’s the case, create two very different website layouts: one that emphasizes the content mobile users want and one that makes sense for desktop users. In other words, pursuing an adaptive design might be preferable to pursuing a responsive design in this situation.
- What is the primary age range of your average customer? Adaptive sites are faster and sometimes more user-friendly. When dealing with an older customer base, providing the simpler, faster design might be the best responsive solution.
- What is the average customer’s income level? Middle- and upper-class customers are different than working-class customers in two important ways: First, upper middle-class customers are generally more likely to have better, faster smartphones. Second, low-income adults are more likely to access the Internet on their mobile devices than are their wealthier peers. A true responsive design might be the better choice for a primarily upper middle-class customer base, whereas an adaptive design might be the better choice for the working class customer base. The latest-generation smartphone, tablet and desktop computers of the upper and middle class will mitigate the disadvantage of responsive design’s slower speed. A responsive design also looks and feels like the desktop version that those visitors expect to see.
- Are a vast majority of mobile users clustered on two or three devices? When website analytics show that a high percentage of mobile users tend to use one of just a few devices, then making an adaptive website that caters to those devices is not a bad idea. On the other hand, the opposite is true if visitors are using wide variety of mobile devices. This situation indicates that a responsive design would be a better choice.
- Is your website’s content designed for sharing? Blogs, some news sites and even some eCommerce sites have content that is designed for customers to share with friends. This type of content favors true responsive design. If the website project otherwise seems to indicate that an adaptive site would be preferable, I would advise a separate domain name for a blog.
- Is the website design budget a big issue? Time is money, and it takes considerably less of each to design a truly responsive website. Creating the multiple layouts of the adaptive site, by comparison, require much more time and therefore much more money.
With the rise of products like Google Glass, design for mobile devices will only get more complicated. Research your options before committing to a course of action — because companies that have already created some type of mobile site alternative may need to face the unpleasant reality that their existing design does not meet the challenges of tomorrow.
For evidence that proper planning pays off, look no further than Amazon. Almost 60% of all mobile department store visits belong to Amazon. The online retail giant didn’t get to where it’s at today by accident; assessing and reassessing the needs of its mobile shoppers has led Amazon to a responsive website design that puts the user first and boosts mobile sales. Other corporations should take heed, let go of old excuses and plan a website that responds to the future.