Adaptive Design vs. Responsive Design

Adaptive and responsive designs are standard approaches for designing in a range of devices. Let’s look at these designs in detail.

What is adaptive design?

The adaptive design uses a more fluid approach that employs several sizes of a fixed design. It is useful when retrofitting an existing website to make it more mobile-friendly. The tool enables you to take control of the design to develop it for specific multiple viewports.

Essentially, an adaptive design automatically detects the user’s device type to adapt the template being used. It allows you to have better control of elements and experiences. However, one disadvantage of the adaptive approach is that it is a time-consuming process when tailoring it for each device type. Typically, adaptive is designed to detect the screen size and load the right layout for it. You can design an adaptive site for the following six screen widths:

  • .320
  • .480
  • .760
  • .960
  • .1200
  • .1600

What is responsive design?

Typically, responsive design allows for configuring all the critical elements viewed on a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Responsive design uses one layout and adjusts the page’s elements, navigation, and content to fit the user screen. This innovation is significant for phone and PC users who find the devices more friendly.

Most modern websites now adopt a responsive design as it has been made easier for novice designers and developers. It features good themes that can be accessed through several CMS systems like Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.

If you opt for this design, ensure you consider all the devices and screens that the user may view the website form. Certain elements will work perfectly and align well on a large desktop view but will resize poorly on smaller screens.

Although the responsive design doesn’t offer much control like the adaptive design, it takes much less work and effort to build and maintain it. It also allows for designing with all layouts in mind. This makes the responsive design ideal for new projects.

One crucial factor that should inform the approach you use is the type of audience visiting your website. Determine who the audience is and what sort of device they use to access your website. Once you know the kind of audience and their devices, it will be easier to choose the right design layout and content that meets their expectations and needs. Other factors to consider are time and budgets. If you have tight budgets and time constraints, it is advisable to go for a responsive approach.