Adaptive vs. responsive web approach - two sides of the same coin
With the evolutionary changes the industry has been experiencing in the last decade, web developers are always kept on edge, trying to predict the next trend which will take the industry by storm!
While once PCs were the center of everyone's universe, a new trend has emerged which has shifted the focus of all to consider this era - the starting of a post-PC world. Yes, we're referring to the paradigm shift that the advent of smartphones has triggered.
Now, web developers have to design projects which can accommodate the required specifications of smartphones, using a web approach which supports both PC and mobile phone users. This kind of web approach is referred to as the one-web approach, which ensures that the same information and details are made available to users who access the web, with any device. The need is to incorporate a web approach which is supported by a number of devices, offering the same knowledge to all.
To create a web approach which is compatible across a wide variety of devices, there are two major options that a web developer may consider - responsive, and adaptive web design.
Responsive web design
It is a common web approach which can be used across a variety of devices. Web developers use the CSS media queries to modify the overall presentation of different websites, on the basis of the display size of the target device.
One major benefit of using this approach is that a single template can be used to design a variety of websites for different devices. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to determine how the information is displayed on different device screen sizes.
If a company wants a responsive website, then the entire site would need to be built again. Moreover, web developers find it hard to customize the display and test it for the different display size options. This approach works best when you decide to go for a mobile first priority approach, that is, go for a website which is designed, keeping the mobile display features in mind, and is then later modified for laptop use through progressive enhancement.
A customized user agent detection method along with server side system plugins is used to implement the server side approach to a device. This adaptive approach offers different and distinct templates for each device. This ensures easy customization and also keeps the significantly important device detection logic, available on the server. This lets the much smaller mobile phone web pages to run much faster.
But this approach tests web developers to their potential, as it requires major changes to the back end systems, which can present a lengthy and costly assignment. This approach also suffers from errors in performance when the servers are subjected to a heavy load.
This approach doesn't require web developers to build everything from scratch; they are able to build on the available content. While working on trying to deliver an effective mobile responsive layout, web developers can still keep on working on the content in the meantime.
Since this approach is developed on the existing content of a site and the formerly used code base, it is very important to maintain all those details as the website evolves while being developed with a different web approach.
Every web approach style has its own pros and setbacks. It is up to the web developer to choose the best approach which compliments their project requirements and is suitable for their prospective audience.