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Do You Really Need A Responsive Website?

October 10, 2014

Tips & Tricks

Web Design


Search Engine Optimization

The word “Responsive” has turned into a such an overused keyword that people feel is a necessity with web development and they could not be more wrong.  What IS a necessity is having a mobile strategy (I cannot emphasize that enough).  Having a mobile strategy doesn’t mean going responsive with your website.  It can certainly be a solution, but there’s a much better option available: Adaptive Web Design (AWD).

I talk to businesses daily and review specs for new website redesigns and one of the last goals always mentioned is “Oh, by the way… we need it responsive too.”  First of all, why is mobile strategy always thrown in as a last minute item?  It should always be a priority and the building blocks for everything else!  Second, people need to understand there are other options besides responsive and to know the difference (hence the reason for this blog).  Also, don’t be sold by someone dragging the browsers in and out.  That’s all for show and no actual consumer will ever do that (unless they’re really REALLY curious if it’s responsive).

Let’s take a look at 4 different formats of web design:

There’s A LOT of conflicting reports about the percentages of small businesses that have mobile optimized websites.  Most reports say that around 10% of small businesses have a website that is mobile friendly.  I would understand that statistic maybe 2 years ago, but it’s 2014… Why aren’t companies investing in how people are actually viewing their website?!

If you don’t have a mobile strategy, we can help!

Think about “Responsive vs Adaptive” like this:  If you had a gallon of water and you pure some into a bottle, or glass, or cup, the water conforms to the dimensions of the container.  It’s the same exact water (“content”), just reshaped.  That’s how responsive works.  If it were adaptive, you would have full control and be able to customize how the water sits in each container.  Having full control allows for a lot more possibilities and designing the exact UX (User Experience) per device:

Responsive Web Design (RWD)





People who are big WordPress fanatics are all about responsive mostly because they use pre-existing themes that come built for responsive.  The truth is that creating responsive is much more difficult to code if you go custom, but some people just love saying “Our website is RESPONSIVE.”

Adaptive Web Design (AWD)





Adaptive Web Design (AWD) offers all the benefits of responsive design without the drawbacks.  This approach is widely consider a new concept but it is rapidly gaining acceptance and in most cases becoming the primary approach when Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the requested spec from a client.

It no longer is about the design of the content to fit a device but rather take into consideration the functionally of the device, which in turn, delivers a richer user experience based on the context of which the content is being consumed.


I’m not sure who is responsible for starting all the rumors that you NEED responsive, but clearly it was someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.  Through our experience with our clients, we have seen better results in SEO Ranking by building a custom adaptive website instead of going with a responsive option.  When doing ANY website development, take a Mobile First approach!  It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, it will make life A LOT easier and put your business in a much better situation for growth.  While developing that mobile strategy think about how users interact with each device separately and go with an adaptive option.