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Responsive vs. Adaptive
Published by Jane Cirigliano, April 11th, 2014
Jane CiriglianoMobile devices have changed the way we approach website design and development. User experiences can be customized to the specific browsing and buying habits of tablet and smartphone users.
So how do you decide what experience will be best for your audience? We can review how different types of users browse websites and provide content in more relevant and helpful ways based on their choices. The two main options for mobile-friendly websites are responsive and adaptive design.
Why Use Responsive Design?
Responsive design lets you take the same website experience (text, images, etc.) and reformat the information on the fly based on the size of the device being used to browse the website. If a visitor is browsing on a smartphone or tablet, and flips the device, the website automatically responds and resizes. 
With a resonsive approach, all of the elements of your website are visible at every size, but they can be repositioned so that users see the items that are most important to mobile users at the top of the screen.  Menus and other functionality can be customized for smaller screen sizes to enhance the user experience.  Our website is a good example of responsive design in action.
This method is particularly useful if you update your website frequently (and you should) because you make the changes to your site once, and they are transferred to all sizes of your site.  In addition, responsive design lets you streamline efforts for search engine optimization by keeping all of your data in a single file system.
Why Use Adaptive Design?
Adaptive design, or what some people classify as a mobile website, results in a completely separate version of your website for mobile users.  You can even have multiple versions of your website for tablet and smartphone users.
When you have multiple versions of your website, you can target your audience more specifically. For example, if you know that your smartphone visitors use your website primarily for tools such as cost calculators and product data, those items should be prominent and easy to navigate on your mobile site.  Often, adaptive websites are abbreviated versions of the full desktop version of the site, giving users access to the information that mobile customers are typically seeking.
Adaptive websites often include links to "View the Full Website" at the bottom of the page for users who want to access more information or who want to browse the site in a way that is more familiar to them.
To learn more, contact Jane Cirigliano at 800.606.1610.
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