It is very important to consider designing with multiple devices and screen sizes to be able to deliver your website well. Mobile devices cannot be ignored since there are large number of users who use this to browse the internet. With this, it becomes an interesting challenge to scale your website through an adaptive or responsive design. But the question is, which one is suitable for your website? In this article, we will discuss the differences between adaptive and responsive web design type and eventually help you decide which is best to use for your website.

Adaptive Web Design

Responsive web design

This uses distinct layouts for multiple screen sizes. The layout largely depends on which screen size will be used, so a particular layout is designed for each screen size. So for example, your Sales page looks like this when using an iPhone 8 but the same page can look different when using an iPad since two have different screen sizes. Adaptive design has multiple fixed layout sizes so when the site detects available space, it selects the most appropriate layout for the screen. And when you open a browser using a desktop or laptop, the site chooses the best layout for the desktop screen and resizing the browser does not affect the design.

Responsive Web Design

Adaptive web design

With responsive web design, the layout is fluid and uses CSS media to change styles and adapts to the size of the screen no matter what the device is. The fluid grid enables the page to resize its width and height to adapt to different screen sizes and still looks presentable. If you open a responsive website on the desktop and then change the size of the browser window, the content will move dynamically to arrange itself visually for the browser window. When using a mobile device, the process is automatic. Responsive design is straightforward. The users can access your website on desktop and the same with the mobile device. It requires good planning to conceptualize how users want to see taskbars or CTAs when using mobile.

Read More: 10 Design Tools for Responsive Web Design



Responsive design is harder to make since it requires extra attention to CSS and organization to make sure that it functions well at any possible size. But with adaptive web design, it requires you to come up with different layout designs for different screen sizes which can be tedious in the long term. So if you will consider two scenarios, it is best to spend time making your site responsive since you only need to make it work once and it will automatically fit different screen sizes.

Also, responsive sites load faster which is an important consideration when it comes to managing your website. The adaptive website needs to load all possible layouts before it selects the most appropriate one, while responsive websites only need to load the one that works across all screen sizes and devices.

Lastly, an adaptive website is less flexible. You can design different layouts for known screen sizes but what if there’s a new phone out. But when your site is responsive, it does not matter if the new phone out is using a new screen size.

Overall, we say responsive design is the safest option to go with your site. It always functions well regardless of the screen sizes of different devices.