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

Other Uses for Online Church Services

online-churchOne of the latest shiny new gadgets for church communicators is online church services. Some churches are holding back because they do not want to go in that direction. Online church is a fantastic outreach tool. Yet you may want to just focus on your local community. You want to leave digital ministry to the mega churches. The need to reach the entire world with the Gospel is there. Yet your local congregation can also benefit from online church. Here is how.
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Why We Are Slow to Digital Ministry

digital-ministry-adoptionMany technology enthusiasts in the church complain that it has taken us too long to get on the web. We are accused of being reluctant adopters. Digital ministries are often behind the curve and viewed as outdated. On the outside, our slow pace makes us appear averse to change. Yet the hesitation to move into the virtual world was not without merit. Here is my take on why we were slow, and how we can overcome them.
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6 Things To Fix in 2016

new-year-2015As we move into 2016, I want to challenge church web teams to fix a few leaky faucets. These are projects that should have started a long time ago. But if any exist on your website, you need to fix them now. More than ever, your website is viewed as your front door. If it looks outdated and in disrepair, so does your church.
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CWS Podcast – Ep 76: Donations on your Church Website: Tools and Services

cws-podcast-logoReady to add online donations to your website and social media campaigns? You may have wanted to start on this step of picking a credit card processor. Yet this article is to be more of a reminder that you need to do some work in parallel. While your technical and financial teams sort out what makes sense, your writers and communications team has some work. Dig into the first three episodes of the series. If you are a one person team? Well I have no consolation prize or special advice. Get listening and get to work!
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Make Technology Personal in your Church

personal-touchMany people dislike the introduction of technology into their church. They may feel that it removes that comfortable, personal touch. Yet I contest there are ways to make a process digital, but still personable. Show how using technology does not mean only working with a machine. By using trained church members, you can help digital interactions. Show how to extend the church experience throughout the week with social media.
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Security Lessons from Nehemiah (Part 2)

security-tips-2In my first article, I showed how examples of how Nehemiah prepared for security. He used his connections, asked for resources, then inspected his walls. Now comes the part where you must install those processes and measures. Nehemiah rallied the Jewish community. Then he fought attacks while building. Finally, he helped those in need. All of these are great ideas for implementing your digital security plans.
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Security Lessons from Nehemiah (Part 1)

security-tips-1What digital security lessons can we learn from the book of Nehemiah? Many think that the Old Testament cannot be applied to today’s problems. They consider its lessons old and dated. This article walks through the first few parts of the story. Drawing out security lessons for your web team.
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3 Rules for Church Email Newsletters

email-newsletter-tipsEmail is still a viable technology today, and this article will help you make the most of it. Email was first used in 1971, yet it is still one of the most effective methods to communicate with your audience. Social media is quickly becoming a pay to play market. Relying on visitors to regularly check your website is a joke. In fact the only line of communication that gets a higher connection rate is SMS text messages. So let us dig into some ways to make your church email newsletter more effective.
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Growing the Best Digital Team

growing-a-web-teamHow do you most effectively grow your church’s digital team? Through great experiences and learning opportunities. It would be easy to hire the world’s premiere web specialists. It would also be expensive. If you do not have the resources to make that happen, the next best thing is to create them yourself. This article discusses how we can best grow and nurture our digital teams.
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Moving Technology Forward at your Church

moving-tech-forwardMany of my readers are tech enthusiasts. You see new technologies emerge and immediately see the benefits. Your brain is spinning with ideas that will benefit the church. In a flurry of excitement, you present your ideas to your church leadership. Then you are hit with excuses of time, budget, and lack of perceived value. I imagine many of us have thrown up our hands in frustration. Why do our pastors and leaders not see the potential? It is not their fault. We as tech enthusiasts must present simple solutions with clear value to the church’s ministries.
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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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