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Responsive vs. Adaptive Website Design: Pros and Cons

Mobile phones and tablets have revolutionized the internet and web design further than we realize at first glance. Ideally, one wants a website to look great no matter what device someone else is using to view it. With smart phones and tablets growing in popularity, web designers have had to keep up with the times by employing the use of different web design approaches.
Though responsive and adaptive website designs allow for a better user experience no matter what device one is using to surf the internet, there is a world of difference between them, and they have different pros and cons.
Responsive vs. Adaptive Website Design
The key difference is this: a responsive website design will change to fit the device that one is searching the web with, while an adaptive website design is already predetermined to fit different devices.

Responsive Web Designs

• Use fluid grids and can take more code, making images more flexible, sized in units rather than pixels.
• Match the monitor’s resolutions on different devices, and makes a low-resolution site work well on all devices.
• Use scalable images and adjustable layouts.
• Involves creating a basic site and enhancing it for mobile devices, instead of making an image-heavy site condensed for smaller screens.
• Less control, but also less difficulty in maintaining it.

Adaptive Web Design

• Is a term for progressive enhancement of a website, coined by Aaron Gustofson in 2011.
• Are easier to design, because they only have to be designed for specific viewports, and the screen will simply display whichever one is within its width.
• Works the same way traditional web design used to work when there was only one size viewport, but simply makes the same design again for different viewports (planning for six viewports is the standard, but having as few as three works just as well). Developing it for more than 6 viewports gets too complicated and makes maintenance more difficult.

While an adaptive web design layout can be designed for each viewport, a responsive one can change to best fit any viewport. One has less control but also requires less maintenance. The other is easier to implement but requires more maintenance depending on the number of different predetermined layouts. Either is effective, and they both have their advantages. You can also find cheap website designs online – designs that are beautiful and unique. When deciding which one to employ, the web developer must decide which works bet for that particular website: the one resembling more traditional methods, or its new modern opposite.

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