Responsive Web Design (RWD) Vs Adaptive Web Design (AWD) and the Right Approach for You.

Responsive design is being increasingly touted as the gold-standard for making websites accessible to a wide range of mobile and tablet devices. In our Blog “Have You Gone Responsive Yet?” we delve deeply on why RWD is imperative to your web strategy. However it is equally essential to assess all alternatives to RWD so that you are assured of taking a well informed decision.

What is Responsive Web Design (RWD)?

In 2010 , Ethan Marcotte wrote ‘Responsive Web Design ’for ‘A List Apart’ in what would become one of the most talked about techniques in the industry ever.

RWD is an approach where a website is built to fluidly change its layout to fit any screen size or device. From large desktop displays down to small, handheld phones, websites built with a responsive approach are made to support all screen sizes. A Responsive Web Design utilizes a specific CSS code to modify the website’s presentation as per the device it’s been viewed on.

Google recommends that webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device

Pros of RWD

  • Eliminates the need to develop a separate mobile website. So you don’t have to reprogram your website from the ground up yielding savings on web development costs.
  • Resizes images, text, forms, and buttons to maximize screen space so text is easy to read, images compliment the screen size and buttons are easily selectable.
  • Fits with today’s web standards. Desktop-only websites can look dated and difficult to manage when uploaded to modern mobile devices.
  • Needs minimal website content updation as responsive site is just a standard website with additional coding we don’t need to update content separately for multiple platforms.
  • Can have a positive impact on your website’s SEO. As it’s the same content as the static site, search engines don’t need to crawl both mobile and static websites.

Cons of RWD

  • Sometimes responsive sites call for web components to be scaled down and cause certain pages to be inaccessible.
  • Some responsive websites can take longer to load as the images on a responsive site are just visually scaled down and not re-sized for fastest load times.
  • Since the website content is now stacked vertically to accommodate smaller screen space, important features can get overlooked by users due to long scrolling.

What is Adaptive Web Design?

The alternative to going responsive is to adopt a technology known as adaptive delivery. Rather than use the one design for all devices, adaptive designs are catered for each user’s device, screen size and operating system. The concept was developed by Aaron Gustafson who wrote a book of the same name.

With adaptive web design , the most significant difference is that the server hosting the website detects the devices making requests to it, and uses this information to deliver different batches of HTML and CSS code based on the characteristics of the device that have been detected.

Pros of Adaptive Web Design

  • By optimizing the experience individually, you can ensure that each user gets the best experience.
  • Fast loading times as users only load the version of the website that they are viewing. Adaptive mobile designs tend to be simplified versions of their desktop equivalents with few images and basic navigation.
  • Advertising Monetization –If you want to monetize your website in the most profitable way, you need to use an adaptive design that is catered for the device it is being viewed on.

Cons of Adaptive Web Design

  •  Bad for Search Engines – Two different designs means that there each section has two separate URL’s.  Search engines do not like identical articles on different URL.
  • Cross-Linking – Linking internally becomes difficult when you have more than one version of your website.

Responsive fluid design allows for one HTML file to optimize for more than one environment. The adaptive design may work better for clients with a smaller budget as you would only need to develop layouts for a few screen sizes.

If you’re unsure of the approach appropriate for your business, we can help you make that decision. Srishti Innovative offers web design services  that integrate seamlessly into existing websites or develop a new website altogether.


Are you planning to build a web or mobile based solution?

We will love to listen to your requirements and discuss them in detail


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