What Are the Types of Website Design?
In this time of mobile-first design, there are two types of website design that can be used to properly design a site: adaptive and responsive. Understanding when to use each is very important for any Web Designer.
What Is Adaptive Web Design?
Adaptive web design uses at least two versions of a website to fit different screen sizes. There are two main categories of adaptive websites: those that adapt based on the type of device being used, and those that adapt based on browser width.
The benefits of adaptive web designs are that it’s faster to make custom designs more quickly and easily without code. They’re also compatible across different devices and browsers, and pages will load quickly.
On the other hand, you miss out on some effects that can only be used with responsive sites, and if you use the aforementioned category that goes by type of device, your site can look broken in a smaller browser window on a desktop.
An Adaptive Web Design or a Responsive Web Design? This a question worth considering given the importance and challenges of offering a great user experience. For developers, the vast diversity of screen sizes amongst smartphones, tablets, and desktops makes it rather difficult to build websites that adjust perfectly across millions of screens.
As a result, many organizations have adopted an Adaptive Web Design or a Responsive Web Design to offer websites that can adjust and respond to a variety of different environments and configurations. Below, we highlight the differences between these two approaches as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
The Impact of Adaptive Web Design
An adaptative design is an approach to web development where developers create multiple layouts of the same site to fit to specific screen dimensions. An adaptive site will first detect the dimensions of the user’s screen and, based on the available layouts created, will choose the one that is most appropriate. The layout of an adaptive site is not influenced by the size of the browser, but rather the size of the screen.
A number of brands and organizations have embraced adaptive design in order to offer sites that are more mobile-oriented. For example, Apple, Amazon, Home Depot, Adidas, Ikea, Turkish Airlines, and USA Today all employ adaptive sites.
Benefits of Adaptive Web Design
Since adaptive designs require developers to create layouts that work specifically with certain screen dimensions, one may argue that adaptive sites offer a better user experience (UX). Creating a unique layout for your iPhone 8 users, for example, can signal to them that you care about their experience when they browse your site on their smartphone.
In general, it is a good practice to create six layouts. However, this can be increased or decreased based on the devices or screen sizes used by your customers or users.
Furthermore, adaptive design is well suited for sites that use advertisements to generate revenue. Developers can optimize each layout to properly include advertisements to ensure they will be seen.
The Pros and Cons of Adaptive Web Design
Website design methods are not one-size-fits-all. While some developers have left adaptive web design (AWD) principles behind as they have adopted newer responsive web design (RWD) techniques, others cling tightly to AWD for the continued benefits it provides.
Pros of Adaptive Web Design
• Faster Page Loads – Because adaptive delivery only transfers and displays the features that are required for the given device and optimizes all the content to the display’s size and resolutions specs, the page loads much faster. For instance, with AWD, the server will only transfer high-resolution graphics when it detects a high-density screen. This way, users with lower quality displays do not have to wait for high-res images to load.
• Improved SEO – Given AWD’s single URL structure, Google loves adaptive design, which it refers to as “dynamic serving.” Google claims that it “does not favor any particular URL format, as long as the page(s) and all page assets are accessible to all Googlebot user-agents.” However, many developers feel that some Google algorithms prefer AWD over RWD. Any measures that developers can make that make their site easily navigable and Google-compliant will result in improved SERP visibility.
The Cons of Adaptive Website Design
• Labor-intensive – Many developers shy away from AWD because there is a lot more groundwork to lay. Whereas RWD has only one HTML design that simply implements CSS to change the rendering of the page per the device, AWD has different HTML codes stored on the server that is delivered to the appropriate users. And more code, of course, means more time and effort.
• Professional Required – AWD typically requires a solid team of professional developers that know how to handle the complexities of adaptive design. This can be a drawback for some small businesses with limited resources.
Fortunately, these factors can be easily overcome.
Adaptive Website Design (AWD): Websites that are built with adaptive design use CSS media queries to identify specific device sizes (e.g., iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.) and deliver a version of the website optimized for that screen. One of the problems with an adaptive layout is that you need to update your code whenever a new device is released, which isn’t ideal.