Moving Beyond Responsive Design

adaptive-designWe all should know about responsive design. Yet design techniques continued to evolve. Adaptive design is one of the latest buzzwords in the mobile web community. In this article I will describe the difference between responsive and adaptive design. I also go into detail when each should be used. Finally, we will explore a way ahead for integrating these methods with your current projects.

Responsive Design

What Is It?

This was our initial attempt to solve the problem of one site for many device types. The browser renders content based on the size of the screen. The layout changes, not the content. That said, sometimes images are cropped or scaled to account for the smaller browser size. But it is always the same content.

When To Use It

Responsive design is the primary method of presenting websites more effectively on mobile devices. It provides a solution to many problems. You have one team creating one set of content on one website. It is a simplistic solution to a complex problem. But it is one that works well for most situations. For more information about using this, check out my two articles on this topic; Approaches to Mobile Website and Responding to Responsive Websites

Adaptive Design

What Is It?

Adaptive design is the strategy of serving up specific content depending on the device. The browser detects the device and passes that information to the web server. The server then sends back content specifically created for that device. This is different because you must create several versions of content. This custom solution can be technology- and maintenance-intensive.

When To Use It

Certain content requires specialized experience. Some multimedia players work better on the desktop than in a mobile device. Another scenario is rendering tables. Large grids of data are what some users want to see. A table of features, or a spreadsheet of financial information is what needs presented. But those usually do not work well for a small screen. These scenarios must be carefully selected. They will create more overhead for your teams. This is for both the development and maintenance of those extra scenarios. But the benefit is a better experience for all devices.

Action Item

The way ahead should not be one method or the other. It is both. To be honest, responsive design solves most church website situations. But some situations need for you to provide unique content and features. The way you will find these scenarios is through testing. Test your site on several devices. This means several operating systems and device types. Then find solutions that fix the problem you encountered. In the end, create an experience that is pleasurable no matter the technology used to view it.

This article was inspired by the talk that Karen McGrane gave at Web Design Day 2016

Photo courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz

Get the Most from a Church App on Wearable Tech

wearable-tech-appsWearable technology, namely watches, are the latest craze. They have become popular for a good reason. They can perform many simple tasks and have a wide range of functions. Essentially, smartwatches have become an extension of your smartphone. Many churches have, or are thinking of creating a mobile application. In this article I will discuss four critical points on how church apps should interact with wearable technology.
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A Social Media Sabbath

social-media-sabbathChurches want their congregation to use social media to promote their sermons and events. Some even post special hashtags to encourage you to share without hesitation. While “live tweeting” during a message can be beneficial, some think we need to take a break. This article will outline situations where a break from social media may be quite beneficial.
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Pros and Cons of Church Mobile Apps

Native ApplicationsCreating responsive websites and native mobile applications for your church is a massive endeavor. If you decide to create a native application, I applaud you for your desire to jump into this market. It is not easy to determine the scope of your app, nor is it cheap to publish a native application to several markets. However, this article is targeted to those of you that have not yet jumped on this trend.
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Responding to Responsive Websites

Don't Shuffle ContentIn my series on mobile I discussed the various kinds of approaches you can take to mobile sites; with a responsive website as the clear leader. Yet I am seeing the term “responsive website” casually thrown around on many other blogs and realize that it is still the latest buzzword with a nebulous definition. Many people understand that it means the website will change to adapt to the size screen and device it is shown on. Yet a responsive website should be far more than just your existing website with breakpoints for tablets and phones. With the correct thought and approach, your church’s responsive website will provide value and not just another feature.
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Church Mobile Web Strategy (Part 5): Content Priority

Many articles ago I talked about a content strategy document, which outlines every major piece of content on your church website. Additional information such as its primary purpose, the responsible party, and how often it should be updated can be layered in as well. Yet this document is the key to truly getting a mobile website correct. Because of the constrained screen size, your navigation, branding elements, text, images, video; everything on your website will be shifted to suit these devices. In this article I will outline how to update content priority and create guides that will help you design great layouts.
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Church Mobile Web Strategy (Part 4): Mobile Device Limitations

tablet computer userThis is the last article in my series on mobile that deals with the physical devices. We may think that mobile devices are quite amazing, and yes they have come a long way in the past few years. New technology pushing the boundaries of size, lightness, speed, and usefulness. Yet these devices do have their drawbacks and limitations. When crafting new layouts or making interface decisions for your church website, these must be considered in conjunction with the many other new factors mobile devices introduce.

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Church Mobile Web Strategy (Part 3): Approaches to Mobile Websites

Websites on mobile devices have changed drastically over the years since their first appearance. Much like the early web, they started as text on small monochromatic displays. With the advent of the iPhone and iPad, mobile computing has exploded and websites have become more and more like their desktop counterparts. However you have more than one way to deliver that content to your visitor’s device. The approaches to mobile websites that best fits your church depends on a multitude of factors; some of which I intend on discussing now.

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Church Mobile Web Strategy (Part 2): Connectivity & Context

If content is king, then context is the kingdom. Understanding what content your visitors want to consume when they visit your church website cannot be separated from how they are consuming it. Gone are the days where we can assume they are sitting at home in front of a traditional computer. The advent of mobile devices puts many other scenarios in play. With a firm understanding of your audience and their behavior, mapping out these use cases will be much easier.
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Church Mobile Web Strategy (Part 1): Mobile Devices

Star Trek Communicator
The inspiration for the flip phone; the Star Trek Communicator

When new technology arrives on the scene, some sit back and see what happens, while others rush in to explore. Due to limited resources, many churches have hung back from exploring how their church should represent themselves in the mobile space. Unfortunately now there are so many mobile devices, operating systems, and screen resolutions that formulating a strategy seems more difficult than ever. This article series examines many aspects of the mobile space and hopefully will help you decide what approach is best for your church.
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Why Churches Should Care About the Semantic Web

Google search of MicrosoftA common phrase in the web community is that “content is king”. If it is indeed king, then context is the kingdom. The most recent change in context is the advent of mobile devices. Yet another shift in context is on the horizon called the semantic web. I will now explain what it is and why you should care.
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