Adaptive or Responsive Design – What Will You Pick Today?

Smartness of an app developer will lie in evaluating both options carefully and picking one.

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Before we get into understanding what is Responsive Design and how it differs from Adaptive Design, let’s understand why we’re even considering this question.Studies show that in 2018 more than 50% of a website’s traffic came from mobile phones, which means that app developers need to follow a One Web approach to ensure that a website works equally well on a phone, a tablet or a desktop, giving a seamless and error-free user experience. When we’re talking about Responsive Design and Adaptive Design, note that each has its own virtues and sins, and the smartness of an app developer will lie in evaluating both options carefully. So let’s get into it.

Adaptive Design

Adaptive Design is used by an app development company to create a website that caters to the needs of the user and the device. Basically, the website will be designed in a way that ensure that users are able to view it in a manner most suited to their own profile and the device they are using to access the website. If a user is going to a site for the first time, chances are they will land on a homepage different from a regular visitor to that site. This happens because a regular visitor will have different informational needs than a first-time visitor. Going a step further, if the same website were to be accessed on a desktop and on a smartphone, then you could see information prioritized in a very different way on both devices, because on your phone you do not want to see the same long-form content that’s better suited for a desktop.

The flexibility of Adaptive Design has evolved with time, the technique itself has been around for quite long. Until a few years ago web app developers and mobile app developers would create a desktop website and a mobile website separately, which can be seen as a very rudimentary form of Adaptive Design.

Responsive Design

Websites developed using the Responsive Design style instantly adapt to any screen size, making the content readable and adjusting the images as per the screen. Even the navigation of a responsive website compresses (or expands) according to the screen size. That is because it uses percentage-based CSS rules to change the style based on the device size.

How do they differ

Before we talk about how Adaptive Design and Responsive Design differ, here’s a quick look at their similarities. The most important thing to remember is that both techniques adjust a website’s content (text and images) in different devices to provide a smoother user experience. The difference lies in how this content is adjusted.

Responsive design is based on the principle of flexibility. For a responsive website, an app developer will only need to create a single design and content adjusts in a logical manner to fit different devices and screen sizes.

Adaptive design doesn’t only adjust the same information to fit different browser sizes, but even looks at who is the user and how he might consume this content on different devices. So a single flexible design approach won’t work in case of Adaptive design. A designer and an app developer will need to work together to create any number of static layouts for a single page. Each design is developed but only one design will load when a particular user loads a page on a particular device.

So what should you choose

When considering whether your next website should be responsive or adaptive, there is no ideal or perfect choice. What you pick has to be based on which of the two styles best meet your website’s objectives.

Here are some points to consider if you’re thinking of Adaptive design:

  • Adaptive websites layout content based on the user and/or device, which allows for a greater consideration of how information can be organized to help the user.
  • Adaptive websites typically take less time to load than responsive websites. Since elements in adaptive design are optimized for different devices, i.e. specific screen resolutions, it allows for faster load times without sacrificing quality.
  • But for these very reasons, Adaptive websites cost more to develop as even app developers have to be more skilled and experienced.
  • Search engines find it harder to index Adaptive sites, because unlike Responsive websites, Adaptive design doesn’t use the same HTML code across devices.
  • Like responsive design, adaptive design can also be complex, because the app developer has to create the same page several times. Think about how many different layouts may be required for a site consisting of numerous pages.

And here’s what you should look at if your app developers want to go with Responsive design:

  • Responsive websites are trending now and are a more popular method of design with app developers, so it will be easier to source high quality talent whether you’re an enterprise or an app development company.
  • Responsive sites can work well on any screen size, which means they will be compatible with any new mobile devices that have been newly launched or might hit the markets in the future.
  • The most obvious advantage of Responsive design is that app developers don’t need to change the code base for mobile, desktop, or any size in between.
  • Responsive sites tend to load slower because the content needs to first download and then re-sized to fit the device screen, unlike Adaptive sites that already have content optimized for specific device screens making them load quicker.
  • However, adaptive design can deliver a personalized user experience that Responsive design simply can’t match.

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Whatever your app developers choose, remember that the choice will impact the overall usability of the website. As more and more mobile devices are released, responsiveness becomes more and more relevant. Consider the fact that while 16:9 is the most popular aspect ratio for computers and many phones, it may not be the aspect ratio of the next breakthrough mobile device, or even of smartwatches. How will Adaptive design adapt then?


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Published Date: August 20, 2019

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