What Is An Adaptive Template and Why Should I Use One?


It is projected that mobile browsing will overtake desktop browsing within the next 2 years.  Social and Mobile marketing is already overtaking traditional web marketing and SEO.  We are preparing our clients to take advantage of these huge shifts in technology and business now, so they're not playing catch up and paying the price in a year or so.

Most businesses and other websites aren't preparing for this yet, so may never have heard of an Adaptive Template.

Traditionally, websites were laid out in two ways:

  • Fixed width: meant the content area was set to a specific width (and usually centered), according to the most common screen resolution on a computer.  This meant the layout was rigid and would always look the same.  This was the most common solution, because of it's consistency. 

    If a window was smaller than the fixed width, the user was forced to scroll horizontally.  In web usability studies, horizontal scrolling is bad because it can hide important information, it takes more effort to scroll horizontally, you feel "boxed in" when content is hidden off screen, etc. 

    It just annoys people! 

    Vertical scrolling is different.  It's more common and natural, and there are easier controls for it (i.e. mouse with scroll wheel, keyboard hot-keys, page-up, page-down, etc), so designers were careful to make fixed width sites well narrower than the expected screen resolution.  960px is common, given that the predominant screen resolution is 1024px wide.
  • Fluid or Liquid layout: was designed to fill the screen regardless of the size of the window.  This typically looked terrible because content shifted, text lines became longer and harder to read.  The "look" was broken along with readability.

Now, an adaptive template can detect how it's being viewed and adjust so that usability doesn't suffer, and your viewer is less frustrated.  Less frustration with your website affects user impression, brand appreciation, and sales.  It will be rare for your visitors on a desktop to be affected by the layout shift because their screen or browser window is too small.  Even if they are, it's an advantage, because the content will be presented more effectively within their viewable area.  So they don't feel boxed in, lost, or annoyed.

We'll be producing training and information on the subjects of mobile and social web presence, and more, in the coming months.

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