Web design is an evolving field that always comes up with innovations. Back in 2000, when there exist static and text-heavy websites. At that time, designers only focus on developing websites for one screen size because desktops were the only device we used to have. As technology revolutionized with time, we started having websites on a smaller screen such as smartphones and tablets. Problems with designing the user experience (UX) still take place even with the advancement in technology. Responsive and adaptive web designs are the two best solutions to fix these problems.
The simplest way to distinguish these approaches is that a responsive site has a single fluid layout that fits any screen size. Adaptive sites channel multiple static designs along with breakpoints that have the right layout as per screen type. As more and more devices are introduced, people are quick to adopt them. In this article, we have a quick overview of responsive design vs. adaptive design. Let’s get into the details of each approach and know which is best for designers.
Responsive Web Design
A responsive website is based on a flexible grid. Whether the user is on tablet, mobile, or desktop, the website elements will remain constant and align on that grid. For an instance, a desktop design typically uses a 12-column grid, a tablet is on 4 to 8 columns, and the phone shows in a single column. In technical words, responsive websites utilize specific media queries to mark breakpoints that scale wrap text, images, and layout. It can be achieved with HTML5 and CSS3 or HTML and CSS.
Advantages of Responsive Web Design
- A single URL for every page features all screen sizes. Since technology has always revolutionized, this advanced feature stays ahead of problems before they happen.
- The overall design procedure requires less time.
- Responsive designs are SEO-friendly.
- It offers consistency for all devices that’s significant for a better user experience.
- Most of the Content Management Systems are built with marketers, instead of keeping in mind backend developers or IT technicians.
Disadvantages of Responsive Web Design
- Responsive websites require more time to load.
- These designs need more development time due to their multiple chunks. Since responsive web design needs to fit any screen size, therefore, a lot of assessing is required to build the website.
- Elements can move in responsive web design. It makes it easier for images to change or text sections to be wide or narrow as per user preferences.
Adaptive Web Design
This web design is less popular than responsive web design, but it can be helpful for various websites. Adaptive websites use different fixed designs that appear on display screens. When you resize the browser, it doesn’t affect the design at all. This design approach is compatible with desktops and smartphones. An adaptive web design is likely to become the best choice as it offers customized designs for different screens. However, the drawback is that it increases the work burden for designers.
Advantages of Adaptive Web Design
- This web design has faster page speed.
- The UX designer can control every single layout and prepares the ideal designs for different screens. Due to multiple layouts, designers can subtract or add content as per the screen. It can be understood with a simple example:
A restaurant selects an adaptive design for its website. They know that people accessing their site from mobiles are usually looking for a menu or location. But, a user from a desktop might look at the background information as well. For this, you can display different content on the home page with the help of an adaptive approach.
- Adaptive designs are perfect for existing complex websites that need a mobile version.
- You can adapt to someone’s location and connection speed with the help of adaptive design.
Disadvantages of Adaptive Web Design
- Adaptive web designs are not easy to create. They require great thinking skills, more time, and effort.
- Duplicate content on websites can affect your rankings in Search Engines.
- As adaptive web designs are expensive, they require more developers to build the design.
- These web designs are difficult to maintain for different websites.
Comparison between Responsive Design and Adaptive Design
For the people who don’t have information about web design, the difference between responsive and adaptive web design is so subtle. Let’s have a look at the major components of these two approaches to check the comparison.
In a responsive web design, the layout is determined by the site visitor’s browser window. An adaptive design is decided on the backend, not by the browser or client. This design offers unique templates that fit any device. The server identifies factors such as operating system and device type for an appropriate layout.
No one prefers a slow responding website. People get irritated and bounce if a site doesn’t load within two seconds. Adaptive designs can load faster as compared to responsive designs. It happens only because adaptive design transfers imperative resources to devices. For an instance, if you see an adaptive website on a high-quality display, the image will load faster based on the user display.
Adaptive designs are less flexible because a new device with a screen size could affect your layout. It means you’ll be required to edit an old layout or add a new one. Screen sizes are constantly changing and highly variable with innovation.
A responsive layout will need less maintenance in the long run. Responsive sites are flexible to work by default, even a new device or screen size introduces. But adaptive designs will require rare maintenance.
It can be a significant point to notice. Some people consider that adaptive designs are complex to develop. Responsive designs need a single layout that is easier to implement. As responsive designs have a single layout across all devices, they need more effort and upfront time.
Which Web Design Approach Should a Designer Choose?
The selection of responsive design vs. adaptive design is an imperative task for designers and developers. They need to keep the user requirements in mind foremost. Considering your potential users will provide insight into their routines, including what device they use to visit the website. It becomes easier to select the design if you know they use mobile phones to access the site on the go or desktop for content-heavy pages.
Time is another factor while choosing the web design. Adaptive sites need more up-front work since the designer is developing 4 to 6 different websites on the surface level. On the other side, responsive sites are more complex and come up with performance and display issues. After knowing the differences between these two design approaches, the designer can improve the user experience by selecting the right web design.