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Adaptive design vs. Responsive design

Posted on 9 September 2022

Introduction

You may find countless websites, online reading material, and e-books that will contradict what we are going to say. They will describe countless website design types like fixed, fluid, static, etc. However, in this mobile-centric world, there is only two designs that work for you and everyone else. Other combinations could be used, but as a designer, your primary purpose is to design something that will aid your users, so both these designs have their pros and cons that you need to asses before adopting one.

Adaptive designs

As we mentioned in the brief introduction to web designing (make it clickable) adaptive designs are the ones that use two or more versions of the website as per their screen sizes. They are divided into two categories based on the sizes needed by a site.

Design based on device type

As the browser connects with the device HTTP request the field called “user agent” informs the server about the type of device. Thus, the adaptive website will show the version of the design based on the type of device that is connected. However, an issue could arise if you shrink the size of the desktop window because it will have problems shrinking the already adjusted size.

Design based on browser width

In the device type where the user agent plays the main role, in this type instead of the user agent website uses media queries and breakpoints to switch between versions. As for media queries- a CSS feature allows a webpage to respond to different sizes while breakpoints are the width sizes that help a website to switch from one version to another. So, instead of device versions you will have 1080px, 760px, and 480px width versions. It is more flexible to design and gives a great viewing experience as it adapts based on screen width.

Advantages

● Fast and flexible to make custom designs

● Easy to apply the “what you see what you get” policy

● Load within seconds

● Cross-browser and device compatibility

Disadvantages

● Certain limitations compared to responsive websites

● Device type design has visual limitations on small browser windows.

Responsive website

Depending on the percentage that each element will take in a container, responsive websites are made on flexible grid layouts. For instance, if an element- let’s say header comprises 25% of the container then that element will take up that much space regardless of the screen size. However, these websites can use breakpoints to create a custom look at various sizes.

Advantages

● Hard to break design

● Great experience

● Tons of available templates

Disadvantages

●Requires extensive designing and testing

● Custom designs can be challenging without accessing the code

Conclusion

Based on the pros and cons of both these design types, as a designer you could adopt one, or both depending on you. You can make an adaptive design with some responsive features and vice versa. So, choose your design style based on the purpose of your design.

Adaptive designs

As we mentioned in the brief introduction to web designing (make it clickable) adaptive designs are the ones that use two or more versions of the website as per their screen sizes. They are divided into two categories based on the sizes needed by a site.

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