Responsive v Adaptive v Artificial Intelligence – The New Argument

Responsive v Adaptive v Artificial Intelligence – The New Argument30 June 2015, Richard Smith

Back in May, I wrote an article discussing why responsive design- although a fundamental part of modern day web design, is sometimes not enough to match the requirements of a multi-device audience. That argument has rumbled on across social media over recent weeks, and so I thought it would be useful to re-visit looking at where responsive is falling down, and the potential superior alternatives.

Re-assessing the shortcomings of Responsive Design

Content remains a secondary priority

Considering the main purpose of RWD – it is about a quick fix in making your desktop based site mobile friendly. Given this ‘quick-fix’, the actual content within the site is simply re-shifted, stacked or positioned to suit the design of the responsive framework- rather than considering the importance or visual prioritisation of that content for the user.

RWD is about a quick fix

This issue is more commonly associated with image placement, and in a world where visual content is playing more and more of a bigger part in effective content marketing – why should multimedia be paying the prices?

Mobile First provides us with a new thought process, whereby we shift away from having a website mentality, to a more mobile centric one. Mobile First is not just thinking about the design and layout of your site, but also ensures your actual content is brought into the consideration process too.

Unique devices need unique sites

Although responsive web design can re-size site templates to fit the dimensions of the device it is being accessed on, this does not necessarily mean the actual content assets within that template are being optimised sufficiently. For example, take a table showcasing lots of statistics and figures – that table may be re-sized to snap to the dimensions of the iPhone it is being accessed on, but the important data within that table will simply become too difficult to decipher for the end reader. Is this really an acceptable proposition for a world whereby 60% of digital media is being accessed on smartphones or tablets?

this does not necessarily mean the actual content within that template are being optimised sufficiently.

Given the plethora of devices and device sizes available on the market, sites need to be properly optimised for each device – providing a truly high end and positive user experience for end users.

Template Apathy

Connected with the issue of content becoming a second priority, given the template driven nature of responsive sites- content composition and layouts become restricted. Rather than personalised content having a personalised design, publishers and content creators have to be led by the boundaries of the boxes given to them. Not only does this make the actual creation of content inflexible and restrictive, but there is the risk of switching a visually driven user base off. When using the same designs and layout again and again, readers may end up becoming aesthetically bored – a critical issue when considering the importance of maintaining a strong customer base for your content marketing strategy.

readers may end up becoming aesthetically bored

Personalised content needs personalised design.

So what about Adaptive Design?

An adaptive approach to web design quite possibly addresses the challenges outlined above:

Content becomes more of a priority

Due to the nature of adaptive design, whereby designs are built based on device size – content becomes much more of a consideration. Rather than have images or text re-shuffled on a screen into a responsive template, content is positioned into appropriate areas or placeholders intentionally. This means that both the layout, as well as the content composition, both play a part in the overall design of the site.

Unique sites are created for unique devices

Adaptive ensures that site designs are truly optimised for the multitude of devices they are being accessed on. iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, iPad, or MacBook – pages can be built to ensure content is sized and positioned according to design preferences and rules, rather than the rules of a fixed template. More intrinsic content can be enhanced to ensure that smaller devices don’t impact on readability.

pages can be built to ensure content is sized and positioned according to design preferences and rules

Design becomes more visually appealing

Moving away from fixed, repetitive templates, results in more flexible and appealing designs. Creative layouts don’t need to just be associated with desktops. Adaptive web design means that layouts can be altered and modified to suit the resolutions of the various devices content is being consumed on. Thinking outside the box opens up opportunities in increasing ROI on your content marketing – capturing and retaining a reader base of customers who long for visual excellence.

Moving away from fixed, repetitive templates, results in more flexible and appealing designs.

Artificial Intelligence – the new kid on the block

Adaptive web design however, is not without its drawbacks. Even taking into consideration the above advantages it holds over RWD, there are still the obvious design overheads required in adapting each design for the potentially many device resolutions on offer. Furthermore, although not as restricted as responsive frameworks, adaptive designs are still driven by templates – meaning that there is still only a finite number of possible layouts on offer. That is again of course, based on the amount of time a designer has available to create new templates – something which has a cost impact strongly associated with it.

Artificial Intelligence draws upon the advantages of an adaptive approach to web design-but addresses the issue of the limited amount of design output and resource a company or individual may have on offer. Multiple adaptive and fully optimised layouts can be constructed in a matter of seconds – meaning the ‘donkey work’ required by a designer building a suitable layout or template, is taken care of. This process can then be replicated across any number of different device sizes or resolutions. The time and cost savings here are potentially vast – multiplying design output without having to multiply the designers.

AI draws upon the advantages of an adaptive approach to web design-but addresses the issue of the limited amount of design output

This does not necessarily mean the death of the designer. Quite the contrary in fact. Artificial Intelligence web design actually becomes the designers friend, freeing up more time and flexibility in allowing the human touch to expend its skills on the more intricate aspects of design – such as imagery, colours, and general aesthetics.

Richard Smith – Contented New Business and Relationship Manager
Contented uses artificial intelligence to create automated content driven designs, without the restrictions of templates. Contact us for more information
www.contented.ai

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