People access the internet from a variety of devices, be it desktop, tablet or smartphones; it is predicted that soon mobile & tablet traffic will overtake desktop-based access.
Responsive Web Design
We have already noticed a significant shift on all of our clients websites. Mobile traffic now accounts for at least 50% of their traffic.
Google and other search engines now give mobile friendly websites a higher ranking priority when searches are realized from a mobile device. Making "Responsive Web & Adaptive Design" more important than ever.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is "fluid" and the website will adapt to any size of screen no matter the target device. RWD uses "css @media queries" to change styles based on the target device such as display type, width, height etc.
Adaptive Web Design (AWD) uses "static" layouts based on breakpoints which will not respond once the page has been initially loaded. AWD works by detecting the screen size and then loads the appropriate layout. In general you would create approximately a design for at least 6 of the most accepted screen widths.
AWD is an effective way useful to modify an existing desktop site to make it mobile friendly.
Mobile First Design Principle
When designing a new website we take the "mobile first" approach. This means that we design for the smallest screen first showing only the most essential content that the user needs to see.
This approach is better than designing for desktop first because its easier to add elements than to take them away.