Responsive or Adaptive Web Design – which is best?

Why we need Responsive or Adaptive Web Design

Welcome to our 6th article in the web design Cornwall series which discusses the relative merits of responsive versus adaptive web design.

According to a Google-sponsored survey in the US:

  • 81% of smartphone owners use their phone to browse the web
  • 79% of people use a phone for online shopping.

The increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets means that web designers must consider the functionality of mobile browsers when they are creating a new website.

Smartphones and other web-enabled devices have changed everything. Gone are the days when it was possible to design a website to do exactly what you wanted it to do when it was only viewed on a desktop environment. Now, in order to be viewable by the huge range of devices, it has become necessary to incorporate either responsive or adaptive design techniques into each website.

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive website design is able to respond to each user’s needs depending on the device that they are using. Put simply, a website that has been created with responsive design will automatically scale itself to be viewed properly on many different devices. To achieve this, a web designer will incorporate flexible layouts and grids to enable the site to respond to each device.

What is Adaptive Design?

An adaptive design is built on top of any site that is already in place. The basic concept behind the adaptive design is that it allows designers to quickly take any website and make it ready to use on most mobile devices. The addition of the adaptive technology supposedly enables a website to determine the capability of each mobile browser and render itself appropriately. However, this approach is flawed. If a device is unable to run certain programmes used in the creation of a website, then an adaptive design will omit the sections using that programme.  Therefore, it prevents some users from viewing everything that is on that page – a situation that is far from ideal.

So Responsive or Adaptive Web Design – which is best?

There is no easy way to accurately determine if responsive or adaptive web design is the better choice – they both have their pros and cons. The adaptive option is a quick fix because it does not require as much effort to put into place. However, if you need all of your users or potential customers to be able to fully access your website, then the responsive approach is the best choice by far.

Will One of these Designs become the Industry Standard?

Many companies create separate versions of their websites that are specifically geared at mobile devices, but not everyone can afford this approach. In addition, websites that are specifically made for mobile devices are not able to contain nearly as much data as a traditional website – this can make it difficult for viewers to find the information that they need.

Therefore, it makes more sense to utilise a website that has been properly designed for usage on all devices, thus saving time and money. So when commissioning a new website, insist on a responsive design. We believe there will be a shift towards responsive design as the industry standard.

Share: