When designing and developing a website, it is essential for companies and user interface designers to think about how users are going to access their website. Would the site be accessed from desktops, tablets, smartphones or multiple devices?
What is the best way to achieve this state of cross-device, cross-browser, cross-platform compatibility? Two of the hottest methods for implementing multi-screen websites are responsive web design (RWD) and adaptive web design (AWD). RWD and AWD attempt to optimize the best user experience on a single website when viewed on various devices. It is important to consider them as options for web application development. Now, let us take a look at both of them in detail.
Responsive design or websites are based on the principle of flexibility. It has a flexible, fluid grid that uses CSS3 media queries to respond to any screen sizes. Responsive web allows dynamic resizing of layout, images, and text, within a browser, so that the content can be optimized for viewing at variable screen dimensions.
The components of adaptive design are similar to those of progressive enhancement. Adaptive design detects the device and then provides the appropriate feature and layout based on a predefined set of viewport sizes and other characteristics.
Page content or content layer: HTML
Presentation or layer: CSS and styling
Both adaptive and responsive design prepare your website for mobile use. Both allow websites to be viewed on handheld devices and various screen sizes, eventually providing visitors with a better mobile user experience. Where the two procedures differ is in their delivery of the structures, with responsive design relying on flexible grids and adaptive design relying on predefined screen sizes.
In RWD, regardless of the device used, only a single template is delivered across all devices. All page elements are downloaded and then auto-resized to fit the screen. On contrary, AWD uses separate templates, dependent upon device, and only the page elements required for a particular screen layout are downloaded.
RWD is the client-side meaning the layout decision is made on a user’s browser. The page is sent to the device browser and the browser then modifies the appearance of the page, with respect to the size of the browser window.
No need to maintain different code bases; one for desktop and another for mobile .
Perform well irrespective of the screen size. Images and content including text can adjust given any browser.
no need to establish server-side redirects to guide desktop and mobile users to view the appropriate site.
It increased page load time as all elements are downloaded, whether used or not.
Incompatible with older devices/browsers
Page load time increase because only necessary elements are downloaded.
UX Design can be tailored to the device it is viewed upon.
Easy to renders on older devices and browsers.
Expensive and resource intensive.
Time consuming as it requires identifying the type of display and then code appropriately for viewing on a certain device type.
In the debate over RWD vs. AWD, it is incorrect to assume that one is better than the other. Each method has its own set of benefits and short-comings, and both approaches provide different solutions for different problems. At the end of the day, it is all about user satisfaction, and providing the best user experience for respective devices is a great practice.
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