Types of Website Design: Adaptive and Responsive

One of the biggest controversies that we have encountered right from the emergence of mobile devices is whether to choose to develop a responsive website design or an adaptive web design. When you create a website design, you need to prioritize your users, select the best website builder, and balance the visual elements. Adaptive and responsive web signs have their approach and methodology for executing things. This article will explain everything about adaptive and responsive website designs.

Adaptive website design:

An adaptive web design makes use of two or more website versions. These are customized for particular sizes of screens. Adaptive websites are useful when it comes to retrofitting an existing website for making it mobile-friendly. Any reckoned web design agency Sydney facilitates adaptive website design and enables you to take control over the design and development for multiple viewports. There are two main types of categories of adaptive websites about how the website detects what the size it needs to be shown is:

Adapts based on the type of device: When a browser gets connected to a site, the HTTP request includes a field known as “user-agent”. It informs the server about the kind of device that is trying to view the webpage. An adaptive website will understand what site version to show based on the device that it is trying to reach. For example, mobile, tablet, desktop, and others. Issues will occur when you shrink the browser window on a computer because the page will continue displaying the “desktop version” instead of shrinking to the new size.

Adapts based on the width of the browser: Rather than making use of the “user-agent”, the site makes use of the media breakpoints and queries for switching between the versions. Thus, rather than having a mobile, tablet, and desktop version, you will be having 480px, 768px, and 1080px width versions. This will offer more flexibility when you start to design, and also, you will get an improved viewing experience because your site will adapt based on the width of the screen.

Features of adaptive websites:

The primary features of the adaptive websites are as follows:

  • What you see over here is what you get.
  • Without any need for code, you can build custom designs easier and faster.
  • It is compatible with both cross-device and cross-browser.
  • The pages load fast, and hence contributing to the convenience.

Responsive website design:

The responsive websites can make use of grid layouts that are flexibles and are based on each element’s percentage that takes up within the container. For instance, if an element is 35% of the container, it will remain at 35% regardless of the change in the size of the screen. Responsive websites can also make use of breakpoints for making a custom look at each screen size. However, unlike the adaptive websites that only adapt when they encounter a breakpoint, the responsive sites are in constant change based on the size of the screen.

Most of the new websites are using responsive websites nowadays. It had made things easier for the less experienced developers and designers. Minimum effort is required for both maintaining and building. A responsive website is also fluid. When you design a responsive website, you will have to design all layouts. This can lead to confusion and complexity. Thus, you must focus on creating a viewport for medium resolution. Then, you can make use of media queries for adjusting to high and low resolutions later on.

Features of responsive websites:

The popular features of responsive websites are given below:

  • At every size of the screen, you get a great experience regardless of the kind of device.
  • The builders of the responsive websites are rigid. This makes the design difficult to “break”.
  • Tons of templates are available for getting started.

What to consider?

Responsive websites can suffer from low website speed if improperly implemented. A responsive website also requires coding to make it fit every screen size. For an adaptive website design, you will have to separately maintain CSS and HTML code for every layout. It is complicated to modify adaptive websites.

The user experience also needs to be considered. The responsive websites shuffle the entire content for fluidly fitting the window of the device. Particular attention also needs to be paid to the design’s visual hierarchy as it shifts around.


The responsive designs will stay popular, but that may be because we still have not discovered a decent solution for the heavy maintenance that the adaptive websites need. Also, the adaptive website designs are not dead yet. To be more specific, everything depends on your need and what you are using it for. If you are unfamiliar with technology, take expert advice.