How to Adapt Your Website to Multiple Platforms and Browsers

With the acceleration of technological development, we have seen a dramatic shift in how people view and use the web since its early commercial inception during the 90s.

It’s safe to assume that at least 90% of the mainstream internet is easily accessible from a mobile device, namely a tablet or a smartphone.

And, of course, the desktop/laptop still rules as king of the internet. For now. The ongoing trends tend to put mobile on the first place in the future. Let’s take a look at what you need to do if you want to get with the times.

The Different Design Philosophies

To get your website running as smoothly as possible and adapt to your userbase’s needs, you first have to understand how your particular target browses the web.

You should know that there are several design philosophies when it comes to developing and adapting websites to mobile devices, and each comes with varying levels of pros and cons. Here are the basic things you need to know regarding this issue:

Responsive Design

The pre-emptive rule of responsive design is to make the website shrink or grow based on the specific visitor’s screen resolution. Basically, the text has to flow and rearrange based on how the user ends up resizing the browser window or zooming in on elements. Images work in the same manner, as they will also shrink or grow in size to adapt with the rest of the elements.

Pros

  • Development goes much smoother since you only really need one version of the website
  • Responsive sites are less complex than adaptive ones, so one change you make will take effect regardless of the platform your users visit the website on
  • Even Google recommends responsive design patterns
  • It looks good regardless of resolution or screen format

Cons

  • The initial cost of a responsive website might be significantly higher
  • If you have an existing website, you’re going to have to eliminate the original version completely, as you can’t just add a mobile template and be done with it

 

Adaptive Design

This philosophy implies having two different websites – one built for desktop, the other for mobile. Using JavaScript and other web development tools and principles, you can make each version of the website run extremely well on the platform that it’s targeting.

Pros

  • You can leave out data-intensive images and processes behind on the version of the website that you’re building for mobile, thus allowing for better rankings and overall user experience
  • If you have an already existing desktop site, you won’t need to redesign it at all
  • You can provide a link to the desktop site or to the mobile site on each version so people can select which option fits best on their specific screen size and resolution

Cons

  • It takes longer to develop an adaptive design site since you practically need to work on two separate versions
  • You’ll have to deal with a lot more maintenance down the line, thus with increased costs as well
  • Many adaptive designs usually leave out tablet users and require them to view either the desktop or mobile version of the site – and sometimes, neither version is extremely good for a tablet

Mobile First Design

This philosophy basically puts focus on developing for mobile first and leaving the desktop version of a site or app as a second thought or even forget about it completely. Two currently famous sites that approach this design philosophy are Instagram and Revolut, who only recently thought of building a desktop app.

Pros

  • Significantly easier to maintain and cleaner than the other two options
  • You will work with a more linear top-to-bottom website format, making it easier for you present everything in an efficient manner
  • No more need for too much rich media that slow down the load times on desktop websites

Cons

  • Your team might be tempted to completely ignore the desktop version, which can be detrimental in some cases
  • The layout prefers users who like to read thoroughly instead of those who like to skim through text

Final Thoughts

If it weren’t for these three design philosophies, websites today wouldn’t have been able to adapt this well to mobile platforms. Just think about how many people spend significantly more time on their smartphone compared to their desktop and you’ll understand why.

In any case, we encourage you to analyze your target’s browsing habits to figure out which method works best for you. As an example, if you plan on creating a betting suite to fit any business’ needs, you might want to go with the responsive design philosophy.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.
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