Responsive and adaptive web design – what is the difference

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 - Resource

It is obvious that launching your own online project you need it to run seamlessly on all devices. And to gain this goal there is more than one way. First of all you need to learn more about the differences between them, whether it is mobile app design, or if you need to build a site- responsive and adaptive web design.

responsive vs adaptive web design

The responsive design is based on innovative decision to use percents instead of pixels, which allowed the site page to change according to the size of the browser window, at the same time the design is identical throughout the devices. Thus, you only need to develop one single code set, which will fit all devices. So there is no difference what gadget you open the site on, the content will be shrunk and adjusted in compliance with your screen size and browser.

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The adaptive design went further and relies on different layouts operation, which means you need to create several layouts for different types of gadgets. Usually, the development starts with the layout for the oldest, simplest browser, gradually more and more layouts are added, which lets your site look perfect on the latest browsers. Though you can walk this path backwards – to start with the most complex structure and little by little simplify it to the minimum. If your priority is mostly mobile gadgets than you ought to practise Mobile first standard. In such a way, first of all, you create layouts for mobile phone and then for other devices.

The difference between these approaches lays not only in the ways of development but also in the eventual result. Responsive design guarantees that your site will look the same despite the device and browser you use. While adaptive web design allows you to manipulate the content your user sees according to the device he has.

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Reaching a verdict bear in mind that there is no right or wrong decision, which way to choose depends on your needs and all assets and faults which both approaches have. As advantages of responsive web design we can list:

  • single URL address, which makes your marketing plan much easier
  • your site looks exactly the same whichever gadget you use
  • the development and maintenance of such web portal are shorter, easier and cheaper.  

The other side of the coin is:

  • mobile version may seem overloaded with content sometimes.
  • it`s impossible to customize the content in terms of user`s device.

   On the other hand when we think of assets of adaptive web design, we need to mention that:

  • customer gets the best version of your site according to his type of device
  • the content of the site can vary based on the type of gadget.

However, there are some negative sites:

  • such development requires more investments
  • maintenance of such site is more complicated

Your choice should stand for the purposes of your web platform. If you are time and budget limited and your site doesn`t have too much content, and you want it to be solid, then responsive web design fits the criteria.

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If your priority is mobile phones, and the content should change across the devices, moreover you have enough time and money, then I would definitely vote for the adaptive design.

About the author

Daria R. is a copywriter at Cleveroad. It is a web and app development company in Ukraine that successfully implements various projects of any complexity. Our main aim is to help startups, small, and medium businesses create competitive and winning software.

Responsive and adaptive web design – what is the difference | Fareed Abdullah | 4.5