The big question is “Adaptive Vs. Responsive Wed Design” and how do you choose…

The advent of the Internet changed the way that marketing and advertising was conducted forever. Marketing slicks became dynamic websites and newspaper ad copy became banner ads on high traffic sites. It the not so distant past, customers were only able to search the Internet using a desktop or laptop computer, but now that simply isn’t so. Potential customers have the flexibility of accessing your website using smartphones, game consoles, and tablets as well as the traditional methods of laptops and desktop computers, giving you more reach than ever before. With the increase in reach comes the need for solid, secure, and scalable web design. It is important that businesses pay close attention to new design needs and assess potential risks.

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The preexisting model of consumers surfing the web using a desktop computer alone is antiquated. Web designers have responded to this by formatting websites to be flexible. They have, in effect, applied adaptive web design to enable viewing on different types of devices. Fixed width layouts provide consumers the ability to view websites on the various types of tables, game consoles, and smartphones, as well as remaining accessible via desktop and laptop computers. While this practice works, keeping up with the variations of devices and creating unique fixed width layout for each before they hit the market has proven to be a challenge. Hence, the proliferation of response web design.


Responsive web design (RWD) uses multiple fluid grid layouts as opposed to fixed width. Responsive web design changes the way web designers think about making web pages accessible. It suggests that web design should respond to the end user’s behavior and mode of access. This incorporates screen size, orientation, and resolution, among other factors. In essence, responsive web design builds in a response to the consumer’s preferences, seamless switching to different modes to accommodate different tools. The flexibility of responsive web design is incomparable. Instead of requiring many fixed width layouts for the varying devices in existence to be able to run properly, responsive wed design only needs one program for the website. This eliminates the need creating a central site and bending to the whim of each new gadget that hits the market.


Responsive web design is a positive all around. For the end user, the process is seamless. They only know that website they view on the smartphone looks the same as it does on their desktop computer, just in miniature. There isn’t a lot of scrolling to see all of the information or resizing of images; the website is automatically reformatted to fit the size of the screen they are using without involvement from them. For the web designer, RWD provides scalability.


As with everything, there are pros and cons to using responsive web design. Using a single code base for a website is decidedly simpler than what existed before and the consistent experience it provides customers is undeniable. The potential impacts for businesses, like improved SEO and single URL use, are aspects to monitor as this practice continues. But there are limitations to responsive web design that must be considered as well. Banner advertisements and video are not fluid by design and, therefore, cannot be converted properly using responsive web design. Also, there are some web designs that are difficult to translate from the large desktop image to the small smartphone size; websites with several images do not feel natural when reduced to smaller sizes. The images appear very small and interface feels stilted. Finally, it can be difficult to create comprehensive navigation for smartphones using responsive web design. To employ responsive web design, you must create new content management workflows and new image optimization processes. Design objectives will need to be revisited and some of them may be compromised to utilize this new approach.


If you want a website that is complex and sophisticated, adaptive web design is more suitable. The framework you are used to will remain in place using this method, if not the flexibility. If your website can be less specialized in design, yet maintain its informative, eye-catching style, responsive web design may suit your needs. It will provide all the flexibility needed to make your site accessible on multiple platforms without the initial set up and continual maintenance.