Responsive or Adaptive Design: Which one is better?

By now you must have heard the terms responsive and adaptive designs many times. Web is certainly one of the most important topics of today’s economy and development, so it would be good to learn more about these two types of web design and of course learn more about their individual specifications.

When talking about responsive vs. adaptive design, it is important to mention that the main difference is in the visual appearance, and of course, the accessibility of the provided information on different types of devices, such as a desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets etc. Keep on reading to learn more about the specifications of both, the responsive and the adaptive web designs.

Let us first start with the adaptive web design. This term was first used by Aaron Gufstanson. The concept of adaptive web design actually means that the components which are used use progressive enhancement in order to define the methods of design that mainly focus on the users instead on the browser used. In the adaptive web design, web developers’ start from the bottom, creating a firm foundation which is then upgraded using additional enhancements. The idea behind the adaptive web design is to create an optimal experience for web site users irrespective of the device they use.

On the other hand, the term responsive web design was first used by Ethan Marcotte. He defines the responsive web design as a technique that relies on extension of the progressive enhancement in purely practical and efficient way. This means that when using responsive web design, web designers use conditional CSS and media inquires in order to create fluid and flexible layouts which can be used on any screen. Responsive web design usually concerns hierarchy, layout and browser sizes with the main objective of creating optimal and reliable reading experience irrespective of the device used.

The main debate among web designers is around, which one of these two techniques is better, more reliable to use and which one provides better viewing experience for users. Who is winning the responsive vs. adaptive design battle?

Let us start with the similarities. According to web designers, the most important similarity between the adaptive and the responsive web design is that both types of web design allow users to view web sites on smart phones and other mobile devices in various screen sizes, which ensures excellent user experience.

On the other hand, the main difference between these two designs is the delivery of adaptive and responsive structures. The responsive web design uses fluid and flexible grids, and it can use more implementation strategies and codes as to the fluid grids, as well as rely on flexible foundations. On the other hand, the adaptive web design relies on predefined screen sizes and it employs layered approach and scripting to ensure adaptation to the different sizes of screens and different types of devices.

Finally, if you are a web designer or you are planning on becoming one, then it is up to you to make the final decision. The web design industry is constantly growing and new techniques and approaches appear almost every day, so make sure you keep up with all those new elements so you can advance in your work.