Adaptive vs. Responsive Design: What’s the Best Choice? 05Jul, 2018

There are primarily two distinct approaches to web design. One is adaptive web design and the other is responsive web design. For the layman these are mere words but for a web design company or the team of graphic designers that you are going to hire these are the methods via which they are going to enhance your online presence. The way we approach responsive or adaptive design would provide us more clarity as to creating and executing designs that are most suitable for our websites and yield better results across all devices. Needless to mention, the number of innovations that we see almost on a daily basis right from altered screen ratios to notched displays is making website design even more challenging.

Graphic designers today are looking to solve this problem and in order to bridge this gap between diverse devices they have to choose from the above mentioned two options. They can either create an adaptive website or a responsive website. The differentiating line between them might seem a little blurry at this point but it is still very much there.

Responsive Website Design

Ethan Marcotte was the one to introduce us to the term Responsive Website Design. Whenever you hold and drag the browser window to increase or decrease its length or width, you can see the content of the webpage moving and adjusting accordingly to fit better into it. This is what a responsive web design looks like. Now what we see as a final result on our screens with a resized browser window is a dramatically altered presentation of the web content that was once organized in one particular way but now it is displayed in a completely different fashion. A site built on a responsive module will check for the available space within the browser window or the screen of the device and present the content in the most straightforward, fluid and ideal way. For your team to be able to create a desktop or a mobile responsive website they will need to be very thorough while conceptualizing the site and very aware of what your consumer wants from you.


Adaptive Website Design

Aaron Gustafson was the one to introduce us to the term Adaptive Web Design. Where a responsive site layout presents the site within the available space as aesthetically as possible, an adaptive web design takes a different approach. Your Web Designer will not design a site that changes its design pattern to fit the browser window. Instead your site will have multiple fixed layout sizes. What does that mean? In simple words it means that when the user will open your site in their device, the website will detect the available space on the screen and then select the most appropriate layout to display to the user. That means that the user can use any device or any platform whatsoever and the browser will not have any impact on it. When you open the site on a browser on your desktop, the layout will be different from what you will see on your tablet or your smartphone. Some big names such as Amazon, USA Today and Apple have been really quick to welcome the adaptive website design.

Comparing The Two – Adaptive Or Responsive, Which One To Pick?

Responsive Design Is Harder To Create

Your responsive website design team will have to spend more time and effort in understanding the site’s CSS and organization to be able to pull this off. Making sure that the site functions well at any given size is not going to be that simple. Creating one layout that works on any screen size can be a cumbersome task. Adaptive website designs on the other hand will be easier to manage since each layout will need only a little bit of flexibility to suit and work on a particular range of screen sizes. Therefore, it will be easier than making a singular layout that can work for all of screen sizes.

Adaptive Might Turn Out To Be Less Flexible

Talking about flexibility, adaptive web designs don’t always turn out to be winners when it comes to flexibility. Therefore, they won’t always display the best results for a wide range of screen sizes. Responsive site designs on the other hand work uniquely. They are guaranteed to function well on absolutely any screen size. Adaptive design layouts typically fail to detect new devices with new screen sizes. This means you will have to alter them or create a new layout. Responsive sites are pretty flexible in this regard.

Shorter Loading Times with Responsive Sites

An adaptive web design would first need to load all the possible layout sizes and then apply the most suitable one to the page which the user has opened, while a responsive website will just load quickly omitting this one step and will work across all platforms smoothly.

What Choice Do I Have – Adaptive Or Responsive Design?

If you want to play safe, responsive web design is the way to go. They’ll function well regardless of screen sizes. Adaptive is a better option for newer and smaller websites. If you are starting out and want to preserve you resources choosing an adaptive site could play out in your favor. So, which one is it going to be?


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