adaptive website

Oh my gosh, my website doesn’t look the same on my iPad as it does on my laptop! Seriously, could my web design company be any more dumb? They can’t even make it work right! Isn’t that their job?! I need to call them RIGHT NOW, and they better refund some of my money or they won’t be getting my business anymore.

Pause. Can someone say drama queen?

Please, don’t be the person above. Just don’t. Just keep reading and learn more of what to expect from most modern website designs.

Adaptive and Responsive Web Design

Back in the day, us designers had to create designs that could handle displaying on different monitor sizes…on computers…and sometimes that was hard.  Now we have to build sites to not only display well on different monitor sizes, but different devices as well.  If you’re contracting to build a web design or even just buying a template, make sure your design is build to be adaptive or responsive. There are many opinions about which methodology is the best approach to a well build site, but the bottom line is this: either option should yield a site that is built to display well on anything from the size of a mobile phone to a large computer monitor.  We use adaptive web design. Check out MayeCreate on your desktop and your phone to see a prime example.

As your designer begins modifying your design elements, content and navigation to give users a positive experience on their chosen device many challenges may come into play.  As you work to find the best possible solution you may have to compromise along the way.  The site may not be absolutely perfect on every device, and in some cases that may be OK.  And in other cases you need to stick to your guns and keep working to find a solution that will work for your viewer and your budget.

Functionality or Bust

Functionality comes first when making decisions about what to keep tweaking and what to forgive.  The most important goal for your website is to be functional. For example, if you have a shopping cart site and you can’t click on the add to cart button on a mobile device, that needs to be fixed.  Also, if the text on your site is so small that you can’t read it on a mobile device or the buttons on your navigation are too small to use easily without pinching and zooming, that also needs to be fixed.  If a viewer can’t use the site the way it’s intended to be used…it needs to be fixed.

Pick your battles.

Not every device has the same size screen, making it difficult to have the website look the EXACT same on every device. This includes the size of your photos, colors, font size, number of columns and possibly even more.  For example, some tablets are very close to the size of an iPad, but not quite. If your designer has made sure it looks perfect on an iPad it may look a little off on the tablet.  If that particular tablet is often used by your viewership you may consider tweaking the layout to be perfect for the device.  On the other hand, if 1 person a year visits your site on the device you may let it go, because chances are those viewers won’t even notice the differences in your layout.  If the site works well for them, that’s what really matters in this case.

Don’t get caught in the details.

Be realistic and logical about the details you don’t have any control over. For example, each screen and device is calibrated differently and not every color is going to look the same on every device. Try not become emotionally tied to on items you have no control over. Don’t waste time and money on something that’s not feasible.

Instead of having a meltdown under these circumstances, please stop and ask yourself if the website is still functional. If the answer is yes, your life is going to be alright. If the answer is no, then proceed with the meltdown.

Personal Settings

My mom has her computer zoomed in so she can see all of the small font on websites. Does this mean she sees the content the same way I do? No. And can web designers do anything about that? No. There are many personal settings people change on their computer that we have no control over. We have to let the viewer to decide how they experience and interact with websites.

I used to want to cry when I pulled up websites I’d built on my mom’s extra large, super zoomed in monitor.  They didn’t look right to me at all.  To my mom thought they looked just fine.  She views all sites under the same circumstances on the same huge, uber zoomed in monitor. Fortunately, her viewer experience with my websites is similar to what she has with others.  Unfortunately, it’s unrealistic for me to design the site to accommodate every circumstance.  I can only find a good happy medium and deliver a functional site that works well in a range of normal circumstances.

Take a deep breath.

If your website doesn’t match up exactly on every device, don’t worry. Pick your battles and try not to get upset over the small stuff that you can’t change. As long as your website looks correct on the major viewing devices, you’re golden.

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