- Website Development

Understanding Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design has close links to the client-side and server-side adaptive design

It has been quite some time that mobile device users have overtaken the desktop and laptop users, and this tectonic shift in user behavior has impacted web design significantly.  While web developers have been familiar with the changes, as it is a professional need to stay updated with trends, users also need to understand the difference in the right perspective.  It is essential for users to have some basic understanding of the concepts of web design because it would help them to frame a website RFP.  It seems that the technical jargon needs some explanation.

When you decide to design a new website or redesign the existing one, you have to float an inquiry inviting quotation from some web development agency. The inquiry has to capture the objectives you want to achieve and outline the detailed requirement you envisage from the design. It also includes the scope of work, timelines, and budget. This elaborate Request for Proposal or RFP helps web development agencies to comprehend your requirement in the right perspective and prepare an estimate of quotation for the project. To create an RFP, you should have an idea about the general design concepts that help to envisage your requirements correctly.

The changes in user behavior compel users to bring about changes in website design that now takes a One Web approach.  What does this mean?  It means that the web design must be such that it is capable of serving the same information and available services to users regardless of the device they use. For a web developer, it means that they have to create designs that go beyond the screen sizes of smartphones and tablets and takes care of screen sizes of tomorrow too. In this article, we will discuss the popular approaches in web design that web designers usually follow.

Responsive web design

Whenever we talk about web design, responsive web design holds the center stage as it dominantly demonstrates the One Web approach. Responsive web design is capable of modifying the presentation of the website according to the screen size of the device used for displaying it. It means that the same website design is applicable for desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. There is no need to create separate designs according to devices and does away with a lot of complicated work for designers. Life has become quite simple for web designers, thanks to responsive web design.

The simplified process of designing allows designers to use a single template for all devices and to determine how the content displays on different devices they have to use CSS.  Besides, designers can still keep working with HTML and CSS technologies that they are comfortable in using.  The process of designing responsive websites become easy as designers can access many open source tools that make things very simple.

Ideal for a mobile-first approach

Mobile first approach is the order of the day as Google has vouched for it and is actively advocating the cause of mobile websites that it favors over other web designs. Against this backdrop, responsive web design suits the designing needs perfectly because the web development and design activities revolve around mobile device users while taking a combined approach. The priority of mobile device users drives the development that takes a progressive enhancement approach to address the needs of desktop and tablet users.

Client-side adaptive design

Adaptive design is an extension of responsive web design because it uses the same principles of design but aims at delivering the best user experience on specific targeted devices and context.  Developers use JavaScript to incorporate advanced functionality and customization for enriching websites.  Websites with adaptive design deliver Retina Quality images only to devices equipped with suitable technology while users of standard quality display would experience lower quality images.

Adaptive design can take any of the two approaches – either the adaptation happens in the browser of users which is a client-side adaptation, or the web server has to detect various devices and load the correct template. The adaptive templating approach is advantageous because of its ability to reuse one set of JavaScript and HTML across devices that makes testing and change management much more straightforward.

Client-side adaptive design allows users to build on existing content without the need of making it from scratch and still being able to deliver a mobile responsive layout. This approach is useful only when you want to target specific screen resolutions or particular devices. While responsive design loads all resources on the user’s device, adaptive design loads only required resources. To use this technique, developers need to have a firm grasp of JavaScript but how far the design will succeed depends on the foundation and existing templates of websites.

Server-side adaptive design

Designers opting for server-side adaptive design can do it in many ways. It is possible to accomplish the design by using customer agent detection and even by using the server-side plugin. When you use server-side adaptive design, it means that you have to create distinct templates for each type of device thereby allowing more customization.  Since the design entails that the device detection logic rests on the server, it results in faster loading of smaller mobile pages. Besides, you can make use of numerous server-side plugins for universal content management system (CMS) and Magneto that drives e-commerce platforms.

Although the power of responsive web designs primarily emanates from client-side techniques, components that have to focus on content size, especially images and functionality have to take into consideration the server side adaptive design. Whether to give more emphasis to the client side or server side depends on the website in question.

When you decide to get a makeover done for your website, you must consider the information about the various design options that gives clarity in setting your objectives. What you want to achieve would again depend on what kind of user experience you want to generate from the website design.

Understanding Responsive Web Design

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