The use of mobile devices to access the internet has increased in recent years more than ever before. This has prompted business owners to create e-commerce websites optimized for mobile users. If you are thinking of how your website can cater to mobile users just as it does for those using desktops and laptops, you will come across the concept of responsive and adaptive web design.
Both of these techniques are designed to ensure that websites deliver a consistent experience across multiple devices. However, it is important to understand what differentiates each approach and which one would be the best option for your website. Read on to learn the key differences as well as suitable situations to use either adaptive or responsive web design.
The Difference between Responsive and Adaptive Websites
Responsive web design (RWD) simply makes use of CSS3 media queries to create a fluid design that adapts to the viewing environment. With this approach, your web designer will use code that creates a flexible grid where text wraps and images shrink to adjust within the browser. Simply put, RWD is a ‘one size fits all’ approach. In other words, responsive websites typically resize themselves to adapt to any screen size they are viewed on, be it a tablet, smartphone, desktop, or notebook.
Adaptive web design (AWD) on the other hand is a technique that makes use of the components of Progressive Enhancement and ultimately tries to focus on the user rather than the browser. Progressive enhancement typically consists of three layers, which include the:
- Content layer created with rich semantic HTML markup
- Presentation layer, designed with CSS and styling
Without all the complex jargon, AWD makes use of several styles and layouts, then detects and loads the most appropriate one for your device. In comparison, responsive web design uses multiple fluid grid layouts while adaptive web design deploys multiple fixed grid layouts to adapt to different devices.
Should You Choose Adaptive or Responsive Design?
While responsive and adaptive web design techniques serve the same role, they might not be ideal for all websites. If for instance a business wants to have a website layout that fits on all devices regardless of size or resolution, then a fluid responsive design would be a good choice. Adaptive websites are perfect in situations where a business wishes to display content on specific devices with a concentrated user base.
With this selective approach, the website code loads only the important content to mobile users who have devices with limited capability, whereas everything would be displayed on desktops.
Whether to go for responsive or adaptive design largely depends on the specific needs of each business enterprise. Before choosing whether to go for AWD or RWD, take time to consider the competitive advantages of both options. A comparative review of both approaches can help you make an educated decision. Talking to a professional web design company can also help you decided what design option best fits your needs.
Charles Gibson is a freelance web and graphics designer with over 10 years experience. He loves to stay on top of the latest trends in the web design world. Charles invites you to click here if you want to learn more about responsive and adaptive web design.