Have you noticed a drop in your internet traffic and in internet-driven leads in the last few years? That’s probably because Google and Bing (as well as other search engines) have moved more and more towards favoring mobile-friendly sites. With the mobile internet traffic expected to surpass desktop within a few years, it is important for SMB owners and entrepreneurs to have a website that is mobile-friendly.
One way to get your website ready to seamlessly handle mobile traffic is through a web architecture known as Adaptive Web Design, or AWD. AWD is similar to Responsive web design and both tactics can be used together, but they are not the same. RWD is a good mobile-friendly tactic, but AWD is in keeping with the current user trend towards favoring customized and instantaneously-delivered content.
AWD can and will increase internet traffic to your website. Google loves a mobile friendly website; not only that, but customers love AWD and it keeps them coming back to your site.
Wait…I Thought Adaptive Web Design and Responsive Web Design Were the Same…
The key difference between AWD and RWD is that AWD is “server-side,” while RWD is “client-side.” This, of course, is about as clear as mud to the average SMB owner. Both styles tackle adaptive/responsive issues, but one responds based on what browser or screen requirements exist, while the other responds based on the device used.
So, a server knows that I am on my SmartPhone. On a site using AWD, the server returns to the user a site featuring different content than it would if I was on my laptop. The client-side style of RWD focuses on what browser is being used by the client. The website then returns to the user a fluid page that fits to the need of the device being used. The key take-away here is that AWD returns different content, based on the device being used, while RWD returns the same content, but with a website that automatically matches the screen being used.
The difference is a subtle one, made even more confusing by the fact that there is no reason the two cannot be used in conjunction (a fluid RWD website designed to conform to the screen but delivers adaptive content based upon the user’s platform.
So, Which is Better for My Business?
It really depends upon your business. Both RWD and AWD have benefits and both have their downsides.
AWD has some significant advantages:
The customized content is great for users who are increasingly expecting a tailored experience. The logic here is that people access your business website via different devices for different reasons. For instance, the airline and travel business Lufthansa assumes that users on desktops will want to focus on scheduling a flight, booking a hotel, and arranging travel. But, they also figured that mobile users will most likely want to access booking and check-in information. They use an adaptive website that is responding to user needs before the user even knows what she needs.
AWD websites load faster than RWD sites because the coding is far less complex. More importantly, AWD websites are designed to understand the device being used and delivers content best suited to the device. If you’re using an older Smartphone, an AWD site understands this, and returns a site that is lower in quality, but loads and functions much more smoothly. This is a great advantage for any business: both Google and Amazon commented that increased load times result in a high level of dropped traffic (20% per ½ second of delay!) and lost revenue (a 1% drop in revenue for every second of delay). AWD decreases on loading times, which drives down dropped traffic from impatient users.
AWD is easier to set up. Because AWD is creating different pages for different devices, you don’t need to redo your entire site. RWD requires the entire website to be completely rewritten.
RWD also has some significant advantages:
RWD can be cheaper than AWD. This cost effective method of design helps startups and entrepreneurs a great deal. This is deceptive because AWD is actually cheaper in the beginning because it doesn’t require the entire website’s code to be rewritten. However, in the end, AWD requires a significant in-house IT presence to maintain and update. Additionally, AWD needs to be updated everytime a new phone or OS update comes out, whereas RWD only needs to be updated on a very limited basis.
RWD is better equipped to handle changing technologies. RWD is designed to be, well, responsive. RWD’s fluid grid is designed solely for this purpose. It provides the best viewing experience for multiplatform clients.
RWD is less complex, overall. The multiple content pages required for AWD results in many different content pages for a variety of devices. RWD has one template and one page – yes it’s a much more robust page that requires more coding than AWD, but it’s one page, one time.
So, which option is best for you? RWD tends to be better for Small to Medium Businesses, while AWD tends to be better for Medium to Large Businesses. RWD has the better pricing option (see a price breakdown for RWD here) and doesn’t require constant IT maintenance. RWD works better for those businesses that don’t target customers who use multiple devices for different reasons.
AWD is a better option for larger companies, with a big budget and an in-house IT department that can handle updating content pages for new updates. It is also a great option for entrepreneurs that expect clients to use different platforms for different needs, as was the case with the Lufthansa website mentioned earlier.
Software Developers India are experts in responsive web design as well as adaptive web design. Of course, AWD and RWD can be used together, combining the fluid grids associated with RWD, while utilizing the multiple content pages of AWD. This is what I would recommend for most SMB. Not only does it maintain the excellent, cross-platform, visual experience associated with RWD (see some case studies of how great RWD can make your page look ), but it provides the customizable content that is quickly becoming the expected norm. SDI has designed some of the best RWD sites for clients in over 40 countries.
I suggest that a SMB starts with RWD, since it’s cheaper and more broadly applicable to any business. As your revenue increases, you can gradually scale up into AWD. Start your AWD project page by page – pick the page that receives the most traffic and move on from there.
My final recommendation is to seek help. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and there is no shame in getting advice from experts. My web design and development company, SDI, has been working with RWD and AWD for years. We have worked with companies like Moxtra, Marvell and Stanford University (here’s our portfolio – take a look) and is a top Silicon Valley tech company.
We specialize in SMB, but we also work with large global companies, like Pepsi. We know what companies do well with RWD and what indicates that AWD might be a more appropriate choice. Email us (or call us at 408.805.2885) to find out which option will work best for your business.