Is your company website adaptive? Or does it respond? Which of the two is the most effective design style for your business needs? This is a frequently asked question and as a top web design company we wanted to discuss the topic a bit. It’s important to understand the difference between responsive and adaptive web design to ensure that your site performs optimally and has the highest possible engagement and conversion rates to maximize online success. Both design styles are useful for connecting to users on screens of different sizes, which can lead to some confusion. Although they have similarities, there are also very clear differences.
What is responsive web design?
Responsive web design (RWD) is a term coined by designer Ethan Marcotte in 2010. The concept was further developed later in 2011 in his book Responsive Web Design. The basic idea is that responsive designs will “respond” to the changes in the web browser. width by adjusting the placement of different design elements to fit any available space.
This allows a website to be correctly displayed on different screen sizes and the content can be moved to best suit the size of the browser window. This is compared to Standalone Design where a user is forced to zoom in and out on smaller screens because the site is built for a standard desktop size. Responsive web design is quite clear when viewed on a desktop and the browser window is reduced; the page adapts smoothly.
Previously, flexible and fluid design styles were used to adapt websites to a growing desktop monitor market, but RWD became mainstream around 2014 when mobile internet access from phones and other small devices began to exceed desktop access.
What is adaptive web design?
Adaptive web design (AWD) was conceived around the same time as RWD by web designer Aaron Gustafson and introduced to the public in his 2011 book, Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences With Progressive Enhancement. Yes, it is quite clear that designers use extremely simple titles for their books!
AWD works by using multiple fixed layout formats. The site detects the size of the web browser by checking the available space and then adjusts by selecting the layout that best suits the screen. For example, if an AWD page is opened on a desktop, the site recognizes the available space and selects the closest fixed layout. Resizing the browser window does not affect the appearance of the site as the layout is fixed at this point.
This can cause sites to look noticeably different on different screen sizes if the designers choose to use a different layout on one screen size than another. Typically, AWD creates six designs based on the most common screen widths, namely 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, and 1600 pixels. Some designers include additional screen widths if the target audience uses other screen sizes, such as with tablets or netbooks.
Is one better than the other?
Both design methods are superior to the old “Standalone Design”, which does not change when the screen size changes. However, between the two, there are clear benefits and Disadvantages for each method.
Responsive Design – Benefits
The design is uniform across all devices, creating a better, more uniform user experience (UX) when switching between devices SEO friendly numerous templates and styles can be included relatively easy to implement.
Adaptive design – Benefits: Provides the ability to create the best user experience (UX) for each individual screen size (device type) automatically detects the user’s environment Ensures optimal ad placement based on screen size.
Responsive Design – Disadvantages: Less control over screen size design, which usually means designs are built for mobile first and then expanded to fit on desktops Elements can move during rescaling beyond the control of designers Ad placement is not fixed Slightly slower loading times on mobile devices.
Adaptive design – disadvantages:
- Needs more time and energy to create
- Doesn’t work very well on tablets and netbooks due to different screen sizes
- Requires additional SEO work to ensure that search engines recognize identical content on multiple layouts.
It comes down to
The bottom line is that understanding the difference between responsive and adaptive web design is very important before creating a new website or current. Each option has very specific positive and negative aspects that must be taken into account in relation to the business objectives and customer user personas should include how customers connect to a website. The final choice should be the option that would provide the best user experience and conversion rate for one company.