Adaptive VS Responsive; Which is more profitable for me?


We don’t have to dig too deep these days to find hard evidence that mobile has grown exponentially in the last few years.  

The continuous release of new smartphones and mobile devices, and the evolution of their designs and features have transformed the way consumers behave online. This in turn has influenced the way companies have approached their online strategy – opting to think mobile first, and desktop second. The fact is if you don’t have some form of optimised website for your customers, you are more than likely LOSING money. 

The question is, how do you know what type of optimised website is right for your business and how can you be sure it will continue making you money into the future with the introduction of new technology every day (e.g. is futureproof). 
 There are two main approaches to mobile; In order to truly capitalise on this shift in consumer behaviour, your website needs to be effectively tailored to suit your users on every type of device. In this article we’ll look at the two main approaches to website design, and the pros and cons of each. 
 The two main types are; 
 • Adaptive 
• Responsive 

The main difference which sets Adaptive Website Design apart from Responsive is that with Adaptive there are several distinct layouts for multiple screen sizes, instead of one layout that changes to suit.

Adaptive design uses CSS media queries to detect the various widths of browsers used to access your website, and adjust the layout accordingly. For example, an Adaptive layout could ask “If the browser is 800 pixels wide, set the content to be 750 pixels wide “or “if the browser is 1,500 pixels wide, set the content to be 1,450 pixels wide”. And so on. 

Essentially this means there are specific layouts for mobile, tablet and desktops resolutions. These three different designs, for example, would exist on standby and only display to the corresponding device when detected. Unlike Responsive design, Adaptive is server side, which means the server responds to the screen or device detected and resizes the site, while Responsive websites change on the user end.

A good way to understand how Responsive design works is to imagine a text-box in word or Photoshop– when you adjust the width and height of the textbox, the content inside it fluidly changes to best fit the box it is inside. This is a bit like how Responsive design works, there is no minimum or maximum screen width which determines which rows or columns to show, it is a fluid transition. 
Responsive Website design is client side, which means the site will adjust according to the size of your window. Minimise or readjust your internet window manually, and the site will resize itself fluidly. 
How do they compare? 

Responsive is more consistent 
With a responsive design, everyone gets the same experience. Of course, mobile users will get a slightly different layout from desktop users, but everyone viewing your website will get a very similar look. 
Adaptive has faster loading times 
When viewing the website, users will only need to load the version of the website that they are viewing – important for smartphone users. When a Responsive page is loaded, all the information for all devices is loaded – for example a smartphone user will have to download the full 1000x1000 pixel image even though it will be scaled to only 250x250 pixels on their phone. 
Stuck in the middle 
Tablet sizes generally range from about 5” to 11” – a site that is optimised individually for mobile and desktop users may not necessarily work as well for these tablet users. The mobile optimised version may display when really the desktop would be much easier to navigate. 
Advertising restrictions
Responsive design is much harder to monetize with advertising as it is difficult to fit an ad nicely into all resolutions. Adaptive design makes it easier to advertise as the user is delivered a site that is catered for their device.
No matter which way you choose to go, the ultimate goal is to ensure your website always looks its best no matter what screen or device it is being viewed on. For some verticals where a unique mobile experience is important, Adaptive may be the best choice However, Responsive design does seem to be the safer and more widely used design to ensure all users are catered for no matter what device or screen size.
It really comes down to your goals, projects and preferences. If you would like to chat to someone about which design may be better for your situation, please don’t hesitate to give one of our team a call to discuss your options. This article only scratches the surface on the topic of website design and there are plenty of other important considerations to be aware of before deciding what is right for you.

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