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HomeDesign & DevelopmentAdaptive vs Responsive Web Design: Key considerations

Adaptive vs Responsive Web Design: Key considerations

As mobile internet traffic is rapidly rising, creating a website that will look good on both desktop and mobile devices is a must if you want to design a good user experience for visitors. There are two main approaches to this - adaptive and responsive web designs. Sometimes, deciding which one to go with is not easy as they both have their own pros and cons.

In this article, experts from Alpha Efficiency will give you a list of things to consider when you have to make a choice between Adaptive and Responsive Web Design.

What is Adaptive Web Design

Adaptive web design is a method of creating different layouts for each screen size. This approach gives UX designers more control over deciding how the website will look on each device. For example, you can create completely different homepages of the website that will load according to the user’s viewport.

However, as it is impossible to separately design a layout for an infinite number of resolutions, adaptive websites are usually designed for the six most common screen widths:

  • 320px
  • 480px
  • 760px
  • 960px
  • 1200px
  • 1600px

What is Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a technique of using fluid grids and layouts to optimize a website for viewing on various devices and screen sizes. It is not limited to specific screen sizes or resolutions. Responsive web design instead uses CSS media queries to automatically adjust the layout accordingly so that all of the content fits. Developers accomplish this by using breakpoints. 

The great thing about responsive design is that you won’t have to create separate designs for every popular screen size, as it could potentially look good on infinite resolutions

This approach usually requires less up-front work for UX designers. However, don’t let this fool you, as setting up CSS queries properly is a time-consuming task, so designing a responsive website will require more coding.

Consider these when choosing - Adaptive vs Responsive Web Design

As you can see, adaptive and responsive design are similar - yet very different concepts. Here is the list of a few key considerations to have when choosing between the two: 

  • Who is the target audience of the website?

If your target audience usually visits the website on one type of device - choosing adaptive web design will give you more control in creating a great user experience for most common resolutions. However, if people tend to visit your website from both desktop and mobile devices, responsive web design might be a better option as it will look better on unusual screen sizes that are released from time to time.

  • How much time do you have for designing a website?

Responsive websites require less work from UX designers. However, they’ll have to work closely with developers to ensure that everything looks good across different devices. On the other hand, an adaptive website will put a heavy workload on UX designers as they’ll have to create separate designs for each screen size, but such websites are easier for developers to code.

  • How important is SEO for you?

Responsive web design might show better results in search engine optimization as it is considered more mobile-friendly. With adaptive web design, you can easily run into trouble with duplicate content. You’d be using more than one URL for the same web page which could hurt your rankings on Google. However, please note that adaptive websites load slightly faster thanks to their static layout. But if you manage to get your responsive website to load within 3 seconds this shouldn’t concern you.

  • Do you want to show different content to desktop and mobile visitors?

Adaptive web design will allow you to create a completely different look of a website’s homepage for each screen size. This might be useful to certain businesses, as sometimes their mobile and desktop visitors don’t have the same needs.

  • Do you want a website with content that changes based on the user's input?

If your answer is yes, adaptive web design might be a better choice for you. It will give you more control over placing elements in desired places on the screen.


Both adaptive and responsive web designs have their applications. But, before you choose one of them, consider all the slight differences that separate those concepts. That’s the only way to ensure that your website will suit business needs and provide a great user experience to its visitors.

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