Responsive vs. Adaptive Net Design: Which Is Higher?

With the massive adoption of mobile technologies around the world, most users are more likely to visit websites on smartphones and tablets than on desktop and laptop computers. This means that now more than ever, web developers need to make sure they are doing justice to mobile users. These users expect web pages to load quickly and efficiently, with as much information as they would get on larger screens.

Developers can use different approaches to cater to their mobile visitors, but the most common ones are responsive web design and adaptive web design. Both provide a better user experience for mobile viewers, but which one is best for your website? This article will take a look at both approaches, explain how they work, and ultimately give you the information you need to form your own opinion.

Responsive web design (RWD)

The most popular approach is responsive website design. HTML5 technology in web browsers automatically detects the size of the browser window used to display a web page and makes changes based on that information. Try resizing your browser on certain websites and you will see this technology automatically change how the content is displayed. It essentially offers the best possible fit for the device trying to access the content. With a fluid layout, technology simply moves the content on a page, resizes it, and rearranges it to fit the screen of the user’s device. Many large websites use this technology, including CNN and Starbucks.

Adaptive web design (AWD)

Adaptive web design is another widely used approach. Instead of letting the web browser recognize and decide the best arrangement of the content on a screen, adaptive web design uses predefined and designed fixed layout sizes. In general, there will be a different website design for six of the most popular screen sizes. Most devices use 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, or 1600 pixels when viewing a web page. Designers design each page themselves so that when connected to a certain screen size, the website knows which version of the page to display. Two popular websites that have adopted this technology are Amazon and About.com.

Which is the best approach for you?

Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, but many of you may prefer the more convenient responsive web design. You have less work and don’t have to design many versions of each web page. Responsive web design lets the technology in the web browsers do all of the work.

Also, Google has come out in the past claiming that responsive web design is their preference. To support this claim, the search engine usually ranks websites that use RWD higher than those that use AWD.

The biggest downside to using responsive web design is that the pages can be heavier in terms of file size. With AWD, you can customize any page to fit any device. You can remove certain images and other content to ensure faster loading times. Of course, you can mitigate this problem by using RWD. Just use a mobile-first focus and create an effective website first and foremost. Design your website to have fewer images and other media and your mobile viewers shouldn’t have too many problems.

If you have the time, the adaptive approach certainly has its perks. You can create perfectly optimized web pages for any screen size the website could display. It also allows you to analyze the types of devices visited and determine that some sizes will get you more viewers than others. In some cases it can be pointless to keep developing new pages for devices of certain sizes – in order to save time and money.

The problem is, the biggest advantage of AWD is also the biggest disadvantage. You essentially need a new page for each of the layouts. This can be a lot of work, especially if you have a large website with dozens of pages. Of course, if money isn’t an issue and you want to tailor the best user experience possible, AWD is certainly worth considering!

Take that away

The approach you use will depend on your own needs, but you will certainly need to use one of these if you want to serve your mobile visitors. If we had to decide which approach it would have to be responsive website design, and that’s largely because of its convenience and the all-in-one solution it offers. There’s no messing around with layouts and you just let the browser technology move on. In addition, all popular browsers support HTML5 technology, so there will never be problems with a poor user experience for certain viewers.

With the massive adoption of mobile technologies around the world, most users are more likely to visit websites on smartphones and tablets than on desktop and laptop computers. This means that now more than ever, web developers need to make sure they are doing justice to mobile users. These users expect web pages to load quickly and efficiently, with as much information as they would get on larger screens.

Developers can use different approaches to cater to their mobile visitors, but the most common ones are responsive web design and adaptive web design. Both provide a better user experience for mobile viewers, but which one is best for your website? This article will take a look at both approaches, explain how they work, and ultimately give you the information you need to form your own opinion.

Responsive web design (RWD)

The most popular approach is responsive website design. HTML5 technology in web browsers automatically detects the size of the browser window used to display a web page and makes changes based on that information. Try resizing your browser on certain websites and you will see this technology automatically change how the content is displayed. It essentially offers the best possible fit for the device trying to access the content. With a fluid layout, technology simply moves the content on a page, resizes it, and rearranges it to fit the screen of the user’s device. Many large websites use this technology, including CNN and Starbucks.

Adaptive web design (AWD)

Adaptive web design is another widely used approach. Instead of letting the web browser recognize and decide the best arrangement of the content on a screen, adaptive web design uses predefined and designed fixed layout sizes. In general, there will be a different website design for six of the most popular screen sizes. Most devices use 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, or 1600 pixels when viewing a web page. Designers design each page themselves so that when connected to a certain screen size, the website knows which version of the page to display. Two popular websites that have adopted this technology are Amazon and About.com.

Which is the best approach for you?

Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, but many of you may prefer the more convenient responsive web design. You have less work and don’t have to design many versions of each web page. Responsive web design lets the technology in the web browsers do all of the work.

Also, Google has come out in the past claiming that responsive web design is their preference. To support this claim, the search engine usually ranks websites that use RWD higher than those that use AWD.

The biggest downside to using responsive web design is that the pages can be heavier in terms of file size. With AWD, you can customize any page to fit any device. You can remove certain images and other content to ensure faster loading times. Of course, you can mitigate this problem by using RWD. Just use a mobile-first focus and create an effective website first and foremost. Design your website to have fewer images and other media and your mobile viewers shouldn’t have too many problems.

If you have the time, the adaptive approach certainly has its perks. You can create perfectly optimized web pages for any screen size the website could display. It also allows you to analyze the types of devices visited and determine that some sizes will get you more viewers than others. In some cases it can be pointless to keep developing new pages for devices of certain sizes – in order to save time and money.

The problem is, the biggest advantage of AWD is also the biggest disadvantage. You essentially need a new page for each of the layouts. This can be a lot of work, especially if you have a large website with dozens of pages. Of course, if money isn’t an issue and you want to tailor the best user experience possible, AWD is certainly worth considering!

Take that away

The approach you use will depend on your own needs, but you will certainly need to use one of these if you want to serve your mobile visitors. If we had to decide which approach it would have to be responsive website design, and that’s largely because of its convenience and the all-in-one solution it offers. There’s no messing around with layouts and you just let the browser technology move on. In addition, all popular browsers support HTML5 technology, so there will never be problems with a poor user experience for certain viewers.

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