Adaptive Or Responsive Web Design are different!! Or no they are same!! Although there is only one similarity which is confusing to many designers and decision makers.  Both the type serves a similar purpose and has its pros and cons.

Both responsive and adaptive web design are used to deliver website different devices by adapting and molding  to a screen size.

Why two versions of website?

With growing number of digital devices, access to web has extended from an 4.2’ screen to smart TV’s. Users have variant choices to access web, while on the go, shopping, resting on couch,.. anything one can imagine of. Accessibility on every device increases spectrum of reach and influences for marketers and advertisers.

Two versions, First version be it a desktop, second version be either mobile or tablet or a smart refrigerator, a website should look and perform flawless on every device.  According to mobile marketing statistics, new age digital devices are getting popularity like smart TV’s, smart watches, game consoles.

With such statistics in hand, marketers can extended their reach to these platforms gathering new data and gaining sales.

What is adaptive web design?

Source :

As term ‘Adaptive’ precepts about its property, adaptive web design is methodology of creating specific layouts in accordance with different devices like mobile, tablet, desktops etc.  These designs wait for getting triggered either by Javascript or directly opting for dedicated subdomain (

The site detects the type of device used, and delivers the pre-set layout for that device.  So instead of firing a single bullet for different sized targets, there is a different size bullet for every varying target.

What is responsive web design?


Responsive responds to screen size of a device. Just like a non-viscous fluid, it adapts to every

container when transferred. Unlike adaptive web design, a viewport meta tag suggests certain media queries to populate website based on device width. A single domain is served across every device, crafting website for optimal viewing experience.

It is like a single bullet changing its shape according to target size (practically impossible.)

Compare Adaptive and Responsive?

1- Delivery:

In Adaptive web design, a client side code detects device being used, and delivers specific template designed for corresponding device type.  Delivery of specific a template assures less delivery and access time on user side.

Javascript is purely responsible for identifying device type and triggering specific template. Every template has its own files resized according to template requirement.

For Responsive web design, a viewport meta tag assures triggering of specific media queries depending on screen size. CSS in responsive design has certain breakpoints which are predefined and manually be defined for different screen sizes. Based on these breakpoints a responsive design adapts itself complementing device width and elements.

A responsive site loads all the the elements, irrespective of screen size making it slower to load (not literally).

Fluid grids use percentage to ensure flexibility and smooth transition from one screen to another. Flexible media files ensures resizing upon different device widths, file size remains same, they stretch and shrink according to breakpoints.

2- Development:

Adaptive web design consume more time compared to responsive web . Different modules need different planning and design sessions, which usually consumes time to execute and test.  Benefit with adaptive here is while working with an existing website or redesign project. It is convenient to make changes to every module, without affecting other modules.

Whereas responsive web design is less of headache while in development and more of a pain while redesigning. A responsive website is designed by taking “mobile first approach”. First template is designed for mobile devices and accordingly it is modified with use of media queries and css.

Before Redesigning, one must ensure changes for every possible breakpoint so that site won’t scatter and malfunction with change in viewport.

Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s of Adaptive Web Design:

  • It does not require a rebuild to change a module.
  • Ideal performance across multitude of devices.
  • Faster Page loads
  • High probability of customizable for every device

Con’s of Adaptive Web Design:

  • Takes lot of time and resource to develop
  • Perception of being an outdated technology

Pro’s of Responsive Web Design:

  • Takes less time in development
  • Full site user experience as a mobile can get.
  • Doing SEO is easy as only one website has to b managed.
  • Easier to implement for new websites
  • Frameworks to instantly create website

Con’s of Responsive Web Design:

  • Takes time to load
  • Rebuilding needs to be done from ground level
  • Less scope of customization in every device

There are many websites which are still using adaptive web design like, etc. and is continuing the legacy of dedicated web design whereas new developers are opting for responsive because of faster development and framework availability.

Opting for any of the design is purely a strategic decision for businesses and as a person.  All the CMS’s have responsive templates .

Both the web designs allow a website to be viewed clean and effectively across all the devices.

And yes, whatever design you choose, use our social sharing widget to help promote your content on social media.

Photo by Eftakher Alam on Unsplash

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