We all know that mobile web access continues to be a bigger and bigger part of everyday life. We live it every day. Android phones, iPads, iPhones – it seems like everyone is using a mobile device to find information. The question is, how can we present our brand on so many different devices while maintaining the integrity of our message? The answer is to create a mobile friendly website.

While there are many definitions and terms regarding mobile site design, we will stick with two basic terms here:

Adaptive Design
The abbreviated definition of adaptive design is this: a website design that automatically changes to fit a predetermined set of screen and device sizes.

Responsive Design
On the other hand, an abridged definition of responsive design reads like this: web design that fluidly changes and responds to fit any screen or device size.

Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/web-designer/what-is-the-difference-between-responsive-vs-adaptive-web-design/

The main difference between the two design types is how they work. Adaptive design selects popular screen sizes and optimizes for them (iPhone, vertical iPad and a desktop), while responsive design fills the screen regardless of the size of the device.

These techniques are similar in that they both allow the user to easily read and interact with mobile sites regardless of the device being used.

Which design technique is right for you or your client? It’s really a question of budget. If you can afford it, responsive design is the best option. It’s much more flexible and is optimized for the device your target audience is viewing. Adaptive design is a bit more restrictive but certainly better than nothing – especially if you have a limited budget.

Why should I design for mobile users?

The top five reasons to design for the mobile user:

  1. Google loves responsive design. If Google loves it, that can only help folks find your site!
  2. One place to edit. When you design responsively rather than maintaining a separate mobile site, you can update or edit your site in one place.
  3. Simplified reporting. Google Analytics only needs to report on one page, but you can still find out what device visitors are using to view your site.
  4. Faster page loads. When you design specifically for the device used, you can remove items that aren’t appropriate or needed. This speeds up load time and keeps users happy!
  5. A better user experience. This one is pretty obvious, but if you doubt us, try buying something on a site that isn’t optimized for mobile viewing.