Is your company’s webpage mobile-friendly? Is it interactive instead? Which of the two types of design is more suited to your company’s requirements? As a leading web design agency, this is a frequent inquiry. Therefore we’ll spend some time here discussing possible answers. If you want your website to have the best potential engagement and conversion rates, you need to be familiar with the distinction between responsive and adaptive web design. Both approaches to layout help reach customers on various screen sizes, which might cause consternation. They have certain things in common, but there are also significant distinctions.

A definition of “Responsive Web Design”

The term “responsive web design” (RWD) was coined by designer Ethan Marcotte in 2010. Later in 2011, he published a book expanding on the idea called Responsive Web Design. The idea behind “responsive” designs is that they would “react” to the width of a user’s web browser and reorganize their components accordingly.

As a result, a website may look good in every browser window size by adapting its content to match the available space. This is in contrast to Standalone Design, which only accommodates desktop computers and requires users to pinch and zoom on mobile devices. When viewed on a desktop, responsive web design becomes readily apparent when the browser window is enlarged.

Before 2014, when mobile access via phones and other tiny devices began to exceed desktop access, flexible and fluid design patterns were used to adapt websites to a rising market for desktop monitors.

How does one define “adaptive web design”?

Web designer Aaron Gustafson introduced the concept of adaptive web design (AWD) to the general public in his book Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences With Progressive Enhancement, published in 2011. Designers pick very simple titles for their publications.

AWD is functional because it employs several different, predetermined configuration sizes. The site automatically determines the optimal layout for the user’s browser by measuring its dimensions. When a desktop user accesses an AWD page, the site automatically adjusts to fit the available space by using the most suitable fixed layout. The site’s layout is set in stone, so changing the browser window size won’t affect how it looks.

If the site designers decide to use a different layout on one screen size compared to another, the results will be very different on different screen sizes. Generally speaking, AWD offers six distinct layouts catered to the most popular screen sizes (320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, and 1600 pixels). If their intended audience uses devices other than desktop computers, such as tablets or netbooks, some designers also include support for other screen sizes.

Are There Advantages to Selecting One Over the Other?

Both of these approaches to design are enormous improvements over the outmoded “Standalone Design,” which stays the same regardless of the size of the user’s screen. However, there are apparent benefits and drawbacks to both approaches.

The Benefits of Responsive Design

  • All gadgets share the same design. Improving and standardizing the user experience (UX) across devices
  • Search engine optimization friendly
  • Numerous pre-made layouts and formats can be used.
  • Quick and simple to put into action

The Benefits of Adaptive Design

  • Allows for the creation of the ideal user experience (UX) for each particular screen size (device type)
  • Immediately detects the user’s surrounding conditions
  • This feature enables ads to be shown most effectively depending on the device’s display size.

The Drawbacks of Responsive Design

  • Because designers have less leeway to adapt their designs to other screen sizes, mobile-first designs are increasingly becoming the norm.
  • Elements can shift around during resizing, outside the designers’ control.
  • The positioning of ads might shift at any time.
  • Mobile device load times are somewhat slower.

The Drawbacks of Adaptive Design

  • Takes more effort and time to produce
  • Due to differences in screen size, performance suffers on tablets and netbooks.
  • Additional SEO effort is needed to ensure search engines index the same information across different designs.


In conclusion, before developing a new website or redesigning an existing one, it is crucial to be familiar with the distinction between responsive and adaptable web design. Business objectives and consumer user personas, which should include how customers engage with a website, should be taken into account while deciding between the many options, each of which has distinct advantages and disadvantages. When making a final decision, a company should prioritize how well it serves its customers and how well it converts potential customers into paying customers.