Responsive web design vs Adaptive web design

While websites were once primarily accessed via desktop browsers, today we cannot ignore the fact that users can access websites through a browser via any device of their choice be it a desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile, etc in a vertical or horizontal orientation. Hence it is important to design websites that look good when opened using any device in order for them to navigate the website and get the information they are looking for. This ensures a good user experience and in turn leads to higher conversion rates. 

There are two approaches commonly used today to ensure a website looks good irrespective of the device and browser it is opened in and they are namely responsive web design and adaptive web design. 

In this article we will cover what is responsive web design, along with its pros and cons. We will also cover what is adaptive web design along with its pros and cons. 

What is responsive web design? 

Responsive web design refers to creating a single website layout that works across devices by responsively adjusting the user interface elements to fit the screen they’re being viewed on. The adjustments take place when a certain breakpoint (the standard set of different screen widths) is reached. 

When a breakpoint is reached images are scaled, texts are wrapped and the layout is adjusted. For example if the layout is in the form of 4 columns in desktop the same is adjusted to 2 columns with additional rows where required in tablet and eventually a single column with additional rows in a mobile. 

Since responsive web design makes use of breakpoints to decide when to adjust there is a need for only a single codebase thereby making it cost efficient while simplifying the maintenance and updation process. 

Responsive web design is the preferred approach for creating websites that consist of a lot of webpages given its flexibility and use of the same content across all devices.

Pros of responsive web design

Cons of responsive web design

What is adaptive web design? 

In adaptive web design, designers create distinct layouts for each breakpoint. This leads to having a separate design for each breakpoint. 

Since different layouts are being used content can be tailored to the specific needs of users on different breakpoints. Adaptive web design only loads resources necessary for a particular breakpoint thereby improving load time. 

Adaptive web design uses scripts to detect the breakpoint instead of code like in responsive web design. 

Adaptive web design approach is best suited while redesigning websites. 

Pros of adaptive web design

Cons of Adaptive web Design 

To conclude as to which approach you should choose for your website whether responsive web design or adaptive web design depends on your specific goals, target audience and priorities.

Responsive web design is a cost-effective, flexible solution that caters to a wide range of devices. It's particularly suitable for content-heavy websites and those that don't require highly customised experiences on different devices.

Adaptive web design, on the other hand, provides a highly tailored user experience for each device based on the requirements. 

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