Making sure your website works well on any device is an important consideration for any company. In the past, this problem was solved by creating separate mobile versions of your desktop site. However, over the past few years designers and developers have come up with better, more efficient ways of dealing with the wide array of devices out there. To keep you up on the latest, here are a few of the buzzwords around the subject of device-independent design.
The term “progressive enhancement” describes an overall design philosophy, where web designers create a “core” or baseline experience, and then layer on more enhancements which only display in an environment built to handle them well. The alternative is “graceful degradation,” which means you start with the most sophisticated version, then plan for alternative display on devices which can’t support that experience.
This term refers to a methodology where “sniffers” on your web server determine the kind of device making the request before the page loads, and then delivering code and assets tailored for that device. While adaptive delivery requires a longer and more involved development process, it can also offer faster load times for complex sites where the use case for a mobile visitor is very different than that of a desktop visitor.
A fully-responsive design utilizes a grid layout, as well as special image compression techniques and CSS, to shift elements around and display them differently depending on the environment. Doing fully-responsive website design provides a nice balance of rapid development with the ability to deliver a rich, appealing end-user experience.
In 2014, you can’t afford to ignore mobile devices, tablets, retina displays or any of the various environments where visitors might encounter your website. By planning ahead and using the best methodology for your project, you can be sure to get the maximum impact and longevity out of your new website.