Earlier this year, responsive website design was brought to the forefront of website optimization and declared a necessity for websites because Internet users are no longer accessing the Internet strictly from a desktop computer. Responsive web design would scale the size of a webpage to match the size of the screen on which it was being viewed, whether that screen was connected to a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, iPad, or smartphone. Adaptive design, on the other hand, identifies the device being used and provides content specific to that device and the device’s screen dimensions.
Internet users have a short attention span by default because the Internet has the capability of providing them with the content they are searching for on a “right now” basis. The longer they have to wait, the more quickly their interest wanes and they move on to another site that delivers what they want in no time. This speed of data delivery can be crippling to websites that rely on responsive design to deliver data to smartphones and iPads, where an entire webpage’s worth of information has to be scaled down to fit the significantly smaller screen.
Google claims that for every half-second of page load time a website incurs, that site loses 20% of its traffic. Adaptive design provides a very minimalist view of the webpage while focusing on what the website designer considers to be important. Resizing, zooming, sliding the screen view back and forth, and trying to find miniscule links in a compacted page are no longer part of the equation. In fact, the entire equation has changed when it comes to adaptive design.
While responsive web design can greatly enhance a site visitor’s experience when they are viewing webpages via a mobile device, employing adaptive design techniques gives that visitor an experience as if they were viewing the site on their desktop computer. A website can be perfectly optimized for search engines but the ultimate judge of how well a site delivers what visitors want is, and always will be, the visitors themselves.