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Static vs Responsive and Mobile Websites


If you’re a web designer, you’ll be familiar with the terms static and responsive when talking about websites. As the virtual landscape continues to change and develop, we see a strong shift towards the latter. Recommended by search engines like Google, responsive sites comprise the bulk of websites these days – and, as will be shown, with good reason. Here we provide a breakdown of the terms and an overview of the features of static, responsive and dedicated mobile websites.

The terms refer to the layout of websites, with a static site being one that has a fixed layout. The size does not change at all, regardless of the device that a reader accesses the website from. If you’ve ever arrived on a website from your mobile phone and been greeted by a horizontal scrolling bar or something similar, you’ve seen a static site. This was the only option for website layout in the early days of the internet.

Responsive sites, on the other hand, do what their name suggests – they respond to the size of the screen on the device you are accessing the website from, and adjust their layout accordingly. Relative units and media queries are used to do this. This kind of website has been around for a good six years and continues to grow in popularity due to the optimised viewing experience on offer. Responsive websites are mobile and tablet friendly.

While responsive websites may sound like the best option for all web design in the modern era, they are not without disadvantages. For one thing, they are sometimes slow to load. They also may not integrate well with third-party services on the site, such as booking forms. Responsive sites also tend to be more complex and more expensive to set up, compared to simple static sites.

Other options exist when trying to make the layout of a website more flexible and appealing for visitors. Adaptive sites are one example; they are like static websites in that their layout is fixed, but they offer a number of resolutions and use media queries to load the one that best suits the accessing device. Adaptive sites are less old-school than static sites and are actually a relatively simple and affordable way of improving old static sites without scrapping and redesigning them completely.

Another option is to have a dedicated mobile website. This is a standalone site with its own URL (usually starting with m.). It has its own content and features and is completely separate to the full site. As a result, it requires much more maintenance than a responsive site, which only has one set of content. While mobile sites might provide a very good user experience, they are not very popular due to the extra work and cost involved in their creation and maintenance.

Going forward, responsive websites are likely to continue to dominate the internet. However, websites that rely on other designs, like static and mobile, will be around for a while yet. For any enquiries you can visit www.hublink.co.za

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