A variety of mobile devices has inspired web and app designers to build for a wide range of screen sizes. Today we can access information in several ways, from a huge desktop monitor to small screens of smartwatches and other mobile devices. 

That makes designing process challenging, and you might be questioning how you can make sure that your website scales on any device. Both, adaptive and responsive design can address this challenge, but even if they look similar each one has its benefits and drawbacks. To help you define which one will better fit your needs, we will give you a closer look at these two primary methods of mobile optimization. 

Let’s start.


What is Responsive Web Design?

This type of optimization uses only one layout for a web page, and it “responsively” adjusts to better fit the user’s screen, no matter if the person is using a smartphone, tablet or desktop device. Responsive design uses media queries to target breakpoints that scale image, wrap text and it can be done with HTML, CSS, HTML5, and CSS3. 

Whit this kind of design you will only need one website, which should seamlessly adapt and respond to any user’s device or browser. Responsive design is straightforward, but it requires a very good conceptualization of the site and deep knowledge of the needs and desires of the end-users.


What is Adaptive Web Design?

Unlike responsive web design, adaptive web design creates different fixed layouts to adapt to specific screen sizes. To make this simple – you have several different versions of a web page to fit someone’s device, and when it detects available space, it selects the layout most appropriate for the screen. 

Just to be clear – adaptive web design doesn’t mean that you have two separate sites. It still allows you to maintain all your content in one single place and share the same content with all site visitors. Adaptive web design uses a template primed for each device. 


Advantages and Disadvantages of Responsive Web Design

Some of the major benefits of a responsive website are:

  • Seamless experience regardless of the type of device you are using. 
  • Fewer maintenance tasks because the site uses the same content for all devices.
  • More budget-friendly. A responsive website is easier to set up, and faster to implement because you don’t need an additional mobile site. It will help you save on the development, maintenance, and support costs. 

There are many other benefits, but there are also drawbacks such as slower page loading, or difficulty integrating advertisement, so keep that in mind when deciding which web design format is the best for you. 


Advantages and Disadvantages of Adaptive Web Design

In case you decide to use adaptive web design, you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Faster loading time because only the version of the website visitors need will be loaded. 
  • Optimized for advertising with responsive design, the designers need to change the banner resolution to cater to the needs of smaller screens. On the other side, the adaptive design allows them to optimize advertisements based on user data from smaller screens.
  • Reusable existing website – you will not have to re-code your existing website from the ground up., which is great especially for a complex website, where starting from scratch isn’t an option. 

There are also disadvantages of adaptive web design you should keep in mind. It is much more work-intensive, because of the number of technical aspects to consider. It is harder to maintain because you have several different versions for different screen sizes. Aside from being time-consuming, the adaptive design requires a large team of developers which makes it pretty expensive.


Which One You Should Choose?

The key to choosing the right optimization for you is understanding and planning your needs, goals, and budget. Both responsive and adaptive web designs have advantages and disadvantages and you are the only person who can decide which one suits you best. 

However, there is a definite preference for responsive design at the moment, but if you have enough budget, don’t dismiss adaptive design, because Google likes websites that load fast, and so do users. 

In case you need help defining which one is better for you, don’t hesitate to contact us and our experienced West Palm Beach web developers and designers will answer all your questions, and offer the best web design solution.

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