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Choosing between Responsive and Adaptive Mobile Web Design

What’s the difference between “responsive” and “adaptive”? When it comes to web design, these two terms are used interchangeably, but there is actually a difference between the two. These two approaches to web design were developed as a response to the growth in smartphones and mobile device usage to access websites. Since people use different mobile devices, a static website may not look its best across the various devices available in the market.

Adaptive vs. Responsive

Adaptive web design involves creating specific pages for different devices (with different screen resolutions). This web design approach entails programming the web server to recognize the device being used and adapting by delivering the web page version that best fits that web device.  This provides visitors with an optimized user experience on their specific mobile device. Adaptive web design provides pages that load more quickly. However, it is more expensive and is usually ideal only for big companies that have the budget.

Meanwhile, responsive mobile web design entails creating one web page and using CSS media queries and parameters. The webpage will automatically change its layout and format, depending on the screen resolution of the mobile device. This approach is more ideal for small and medium enterprises since this is simpler and more efficient. However, the pages may take longer to load.

Target audience. The choice for utilizing a responsive or adaptive approach will depend on the demographics of your target audience. If your target audience is of the younger generation or is upwardly mobile and can afford more powerful smartphones, the responsive approach is best. If your target audience belongs to more senior customers or those in the lower income bracket, an adaptive approach is recommended.

Types of mobile devices used. You also need to know whether your customers mostly tend to two or three specific mobile devices. If this is the case, you can design an adaptive website for these devices since you are already addressing a large majority of your audience.

Purpose of website. It also depends on whether the website is designed for consumable content. If there is sharable content that readers can link with their social media accounts or with their blogs, the content has to be opened within the pages of that site. Alternatively, it should be something that is quickly read by the readers. In this case, a responsive design approach works well.

Getting the best of both the responsive and adaptive design approaches

Both the adaptive and responsive mobile design approaches has their strengths and weaknesses. You can combine both approaches to harness their respective strengths and avoid their inherent weaknesses.   

You can start off with responsive design  and still incorporate some aspect of an adaptive design approach. This is done by altering certain types of interfaces, content and assets based on whether the user is accessing the site via a desktop/laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Another option is to start with an adaptive design approach and installing specific “device bracket” in the design. Within a certain bracket, you can apply some responsive design, allowing the layout and interface to change based on the screen resolution of the device. Once this bracket is exceeded, you already have a ready design for a different version of the webpage. These brackets may include web pages for desktops, tablets and mobile phones.

In the end, it really depends on your website strategy, as based on your overall goals as a company. For more insights on Utah web design strategy based on your company requirements, you can turn to Adaptivity Pro. It is composed of a team of expert and experienced web designers, artists and programmers that can design your website depending on what design approach you need. Aside from this, Adaptivity Pro provides SLC SEO and social media marketing services.


Article Provided By:
Adaptivity Pro Web Design
Salt Lake City Utah
P.O. Box 951049
South Jordan, UT
o: 801-512-2006