UX Director Chris Jones, explores the real differences between adaptive and responsive websites. Find out which one will work best for you in this 3 min video.
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Hi, I'm Chris Jones, UX Director here at Blueleaf and I want to spend the next few minutes talking about adaptive vs responsive ecommerce websites.
So a few years ago, responsive came along and everybody adopted it pretty much straight away, as the best way to create websites that work on lots of different devices. Then, more recently, adaptive websites reappeared as a possible way to build websites. In this video, I want to explore the differences between the two.
Starting with responsive websites, one of the good things about them is that they can be relative low maintenance. You have one set of templates so every time you make a change it takes effect across all devices, because the template resizes to suit the device. You could also argue that it gives a consistent experience for all users, again because it's just one template.
One of the reasons responsive is perhaps not so good is that it can be slower than adaptive. It can take longer to download everything with that single set of templates. The other reason is that by saying 'one size fits all' it's not always a good thing. You'll inevitably have compromise creep in because naturally the way you'd design a mobile ecommerce website is very different to the design for a tablet or desktop.
Now let's look at adaptive, specifically the advantages. One of the main advantages is that you can have a different set of templates for every device, so you don't have the 'one size fits all' solution. You can design a totally different experience for mobile vs tablet and then desktop. You have a very fine degree of control over each template on each device.
Also those templates can be faster because you only have to download exactly what's needed for mobile, tablet and desktop rather than the whole shebang.
The reasons you perhaps might not go for adaptive are that it's not too SEO-friendly because the search engine will see the mobile site as separate to the desktop and tablet so it's not as joined up as the responsive site would be. Inevitably there is also more maintenance involved with an adaptive site because you have different templates for different devices.
So, if I was to tell you which one would be right for your business, the honest answer would be that I can't tell you this off the cuff. It's more of a considered and consultative decision than a snap decision. That said, generally you may want to consider an adaptive site if your brand is very high-end and you really want that fine degree of control over the design and layout of your website. Or if you work for a business where you want to serve a totally different experience on mobile, tablet and desktop.