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There is more than one way to do responsive web design. The most prominent seems to be adaptive web design, which is more rigid and structured because the elements of the site only change when reaching different breakpoints.

Just because bloggers and media specialists focus on adaptive web design doesn’t mean there isn’t another approach with merit. Both approaches have pros and cons, and both will help you more in certain instances.

Adaptive Web Design

The adaptive approach is best when used on sites that frequently go through design changes. Adaptive design doesn’t have to think too far into the future because adaptive designs require regular updates to make them optimized for the latest technology.

The approach uses breakpoints set with media queries as the only changing visual aspect. Usually, this results in about three different layouts, which provide a good experience on most platforms. The downside is along the outer edges of these breakpoints (for example if the range has a maximum of 620 px and the device used to access the content is 619 px) users will begin to have design issues.

The upsides to adaptive design are you don’t have to test it at every conceivable width to ensure it renders properly, and it makes sure the majority of users will have a good experience. Unfortunately, if you aren’t using the most recent and popular devices, you are more likely to have a problem, and it requires periodic changes to keep up to date.

The Fluid Approach

The fluid approach responds to different viewing widths allowing the design to create a suitable layout on nearly every platform. The viewers are able to get a good experience that is catering to the dimensions of their device, but for the designer, the fluid approach requires a lot of time spent checking the site at different widths to see where the design breaks.

The design doesn’t have a “true form”, but an ever-changing appearance molded to fit the needs of the viewer’s device. The ability to achieve this type of design comes from keeping all of the aspects of the site proportional. Everything is rendered based on the size the screen is viewed on.

The best part of this type of design is fluid designs are practically timeless. It is impossible to really predict what will happen in the industry in a few months, let alone years, but fluid designs have the ability to still look aesthetically pleasing on all devices for much longer than adaptive designs.

Conclusion

Both design approaches have their merits. Adaptive design is feasible to be able to make routine changes to stay current, and offers an almost universally pleasing experience with little testing. Fluid designs don’t require the regular updates of adaptive designs, but you will likely end up spending the same amount of time testing widths.

No approach is ever perfect for everything, but these two should keep you covered in most situations.

For more technical information about these two approaches, read Jamal Jackson’s article from 1stwebdesigner.

 

Now as much as ever, the web design industry and the SEO industry are intertwined. The question that arises anytime a business industry and a creative industry become so connected is whether the business side limits the creative side or not.

Most in the web design industry will agree that SEO shouldn’t limit web designers at all. SEO is important, but limiting art isn’t necessary.

One of the most important things for web designers and SEO professionals to be concerned about is load times. Lots of designers want to make amazing headers, but these lead to slow load times. There are sites where load times do matter less. Portfolio sites should have plenty of quality graphics of work, but in these instances SEO doesn’t matter.

For commercial websites however, fast load times are essential because customers will go elsewhere rather than wait.

For those that think standard navigation practices limit their artistic license, think about this. The job of a web designer isn’t just to create an aeshtetically pleasant site, but to make one that is also functional and user-friendly. Breadcrumbs and easily accessible navigation systems make users happy, and it allows them to see all of the well designed areas of the site.

Overall, if you aren’t designing overly flashy sites, SEO shouldn’t be limiting your abilities as a designer. The latest SEO practices rely on quality content, and the designer’s job is to to deliver this content is a good looking package. If anything, SEO guidelines will help you understand how to create a site your viewers will like.

For some more pros and cons of the relationship between SEO and web design, Rean Jean Uehara has a great article at 1stwebdesigner.

 

 

As a web designer or developer, it’s always important to understand what the client wants. That’s why it is strange how few designers and developers understand online marketing.

Understanding and implementing online marketing give any developer or designer a great advantage in the marketplace and promises much more of a long term reward than those that fail to learn about online marketing. This isn’t to say neglecting your designing or developing skills is a wise decision, but by combining your skills with online marketing, you can do three things:

1) Get more clients – When clients post ads for developers or design jobs, they often get responses detailing what features and formats the person could implement. They promise so many pages, or list how they are proficient in HTML5, jQuery, and W4C standards. This may seem like a great approach for contacting potential employers, but it has a great weakness.

Potential employers want to know what you will do for them, and what they want you to do is make more money. Employers want to hear that you will raise the number of subscribers a certain percent, or will raise their revenue. Wether you use HTML5 or jQuery is not of much importance to them.

There are plenty of good web designers that can make nice looking websites, but there are way less designers that know how to increase sales. Those that know online marketing will get the better clients, and higher rates.

2) Build Your Brand – The biggest problem for every freelancer is building a base of clients. It would be great for clients to just come to you ready to pay however much you want, but that is a fantasy. Or is it?

Building a strong personal brand online attracts clients by exhibiting your skills to them beforehand. This can be fairly difficult and requires a lot of perseverance, but there is a basic pattern. First, you build a popular blog, followed by establishing a decent social media following. Then, you participate in outside activities like conferences, and make yourself known about.

This path does two very important things for you. It establishes you as a reputable expert, and gains you tons of publicity many would pay for. When employers need work done, they go to the experts they know first, and if you’ve built a strong brand, they will know about you.

If you want to know more about building a personal brand, I highly recommend watching the TED talk by Jacob Cass.

3) Earn extra income – Freelancing is far from a stable career and anyone should be prepared for unexpected problems. That is why it is important to make yourself as financially secure as possible before the problems arrive.

One of the best options for securing your finances is to diversify your streams of income between client work and passive income. If you are already perceived as an expert in your field, creating a passive income shouldn’t be difficult. There are a slew of monetization options, such as creating and selling your own products or even simply displaying ads on your site.

It does take effort to create a product, and even more to market and sell it, but it could be extremely important in your future.

Think of it this way, if you want to run a local bakery, you have to be as good at business as you are at baking. Otherwise, the business won’t get off the ground. The same goes for creating a business online. If you want to be successful online, learn online marketing.

 

If you want to learn more about online marketing and the mistakes you can make while starting out, read more at 1stwebdesigner.