Adaptive vs. Responsive Web Design: Which Option is Better for Your Company’s Website?
How a website will display on a laptop, PC, tablet, smartphone, or other smart devices always boils down to the website’s design. With the ever increasing diversity and pervasiveness of smart devices, web designers need to cater to the array of screen sizes. Every app and web designer currently faces this fundamental challenge. From the huge PC monitor to the smartphone, there are various means that users can access information online today. Web designers employ fluid web design, adaptive web design or responsive web design when creating a website. A huge number of modern websites use either responsive or adaptive design.
Common Web Design Techniques
Prior to the introduction of data-enabled smartphones, all websites were primarily designed for desktop and laptop computer screens. Due to the limited size of these screens, web designers were restricted to using fluid or fixed design. Here are some differences between fluid and fixed design.
- In a fixed design, the layout of the web pages has a specific width that doesn’t change. This design doesn’t adapt or change to varying screen sizes. The web pages that display a horizontal scroll bar at the bottom use this design.
- In a fluid design, width of the webpage is a percentage of the size of the screen. Web pages that have been developed using this technique are scalable and the content either shrinks or enlarges to fit the size of the screen’s device.
What is the difference between responsive and adaptive web design?
With the increasing number and sizes of connected devices, there emerged a need to design web pages with the ability to adjust to the different kinds of devices and sizes. Responsive web design (RWD) and adaptive web design (AWD) solves this problem. Here are some of the main differences between responsive and adaptive.
Websites that have been developed using responsive design (RWD) respond variations in browser width by changing the position of design elements to fit within the available space. Responsive websites display content based on the existing browser space. Whenever you open a responsive website on a desktop and minimize or maximize the browser window, the content will shift dynamically to place itself optimally for the browser window. This process is automatic on smartphones; the website checks for the existing space and positions itself in the appropriate arrangement.
The responsive design is straightforward since it is fluid and users can enjoy the same online experience on a handheld device as much as they would on a desktop monitor. In order to achieve this, the web designer must have a very fine conceptualization of the website and a deep knowledge of the wants and needs of the end users.
The adaptive design (AWD) is also referred to as progressive enhancement of a website and it was first introduced in 2011. While responsive design depends on adjusting the design pattern to fit the space available to it, the adaptive design relies on multiple fixed layout sizes. Whenever an adaptive site detects that existing space, it chooses the layout that is most suitable for the screen. This means that when you open a browser on a PC, the site will select the best layout for that PC’s screen and minimizing or maximizing the browser will have no impact on the design.
You may have noticed that the layout displayed on a smartphone using the adaptive design may vary from the desktop version. Nonetheless, this is due to the fact that the designers have selected a different layout for the smartphone’s screen rather than leaving the design to rearrange itself. In the adaptive design, it is normal to develop six different designs for the six most common device screen widths available in the market: 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, and 1600 pixels.
What’s an example of adaptive design?
As mentioned earlier, the adaptive design relies on multiple fixed layout sizes. If an adaptive site detects that existing space, it picks the layout that is most appropriate for the screen. This means that when you open a browser on a PC, the site will select the best layout for that PC’s screen and minimizing or maximizing the browser will have no impact on the design. You will notice that the layout displayed on a smartphone using the adaptive design may vary from the desktop version. For instance, Amazon, Apple, USA Today, and About.com are some of the sites that have been quick to use the adaptive design. The sites have been configured to be mobile-optimized.
Is Adaptive Web Design Future Proof?
The adaptive design is meant for varying website layouts for various devices with varying screen dimensions. Whenever a user enters an adaptive website, it immediately detects the type of device and presents the user with an appropriate or corresponding layout. Most companies today develop layouts for three main types of devices: desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. These devices will continue to dominate the tech world in the near and far future.
Adaptive design also has several comparative advantages:
- It ensures faster page loading because it only presents features that are required by a specific device.
- Offers an optimized user experience when it comes to multi-platform browsing.
- It can serve a wider audience due to the fact that not everyone can afford high-end tech gadgets and devices.
The adaptive design is not fully future proof because of optimization for conversion rate. It is better suited for businesses that rely on desktop users to achieve high conversion rates. The responsive design is better suited for conversion optimization because it is more appropriate for mobile devices, which are increasingly dominating the world while desktop sales are decreasing significantly.
If you have a business in the U.S. or Canada and you operate a website or you want to develop one now, contact PearlWhiteMedia today to book an appointment or get a quote on RWD and AWD. We are a Montreal website development agency with over 15 years experience and we have a team of experienced web designers and developers working with different businesses. Our team has always kept abreast with the latest changes and trends in functionality and design so our clients’ websites are always sophisticated, modern and appealing. Contact us today for your free WordPress quote.