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Ever since the debut of the first-generation iPhone in 2007, mobile devices have become more convenient in everyday use. About 2.5 billion people are now using smartphones to accomplish most of their day-to-day activities and this includes browsing websites.

Because more users prefer to use mobile devices over larger computers, web designers have put most of their efforts into perfecting web designs for such devices. During this process, the debate over-responsive vs. adaptive web design has been a recurring one.
Although the differences are apparent, you will notice that each kind of design brings something useful to the table. In order to better understand their unique qualities, we need to look at each of these web design styles separately.

Key Features of Adaptive Web Design

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How do you choose between responsive vs. adaptive design? You can make it easier for yourself first by understanding what each one is and what it can create for your site. Let’s look at adaptive web design first and then proceed to responsive.

Adaptive web design primarily focuses on the various devices that are on the market today. These devices may range from large computers to smaller portable devices such as smartphones. With adaptive web design, your goal is to make sure your site is functional on all mainstream devices.

One of the biggest challenges of web design is getting your site to fit or adapt to any screen size. Adaptive web design uses a number of different layouts that have already been designed for different screen sizes. Everything is made ahead of time, for example, a specific layout for smartphones, computers, etc.


  1. It provides a good UX (User experience) to individuals on any device. The key contributor to the amazing user experience is the fast page loading time performance. Adaptive web design tools are the best in ensuring that every user on any device gets the best UX possible.
  2. Adaptive design helps you use your web content and the intent of the user to improve UX in its development. Users usually have a specific way they prefer to interact with a website. Their intentions are different if they are doing it on a mobile device compared to a computer. In this case, fine-tuning the experience base on the device is accomplished by adaptive designs.
  3. A developer does not need to drastically change the design pattern of an existing site. Recoding is not necessary when you have an adaptive design at your disposal. It is very stressful to redesign your site from scratch and adaptive design helps you save a lot of time and money.
  4. One of the best practices of adaptive web design is its use in all kinds of mobile devices. This is the biggest difference between responsive and adaptive web design. Adaptive web design also considers non-smartphone users; therefore, it has the potential to reach more users.


  1. Creating an adaptive web design is not a simple process. Besides all the advantages, adaptive web design is complex. It involves creating a lot of layouts for different displays and this takes a lot of work. It also makes it difficult to assign particular content on one URL.
  2. It may cost a lot to develop an adaptive site. You will need to hire a large team of developers to create the site for you and this is where most of your money may go to. It is not always easy to support an adaptive site by yourself so this type of design might not be suitable for some individuals.

Examples of websites with an adaptive design

1. Lufthansa airline

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A good example of adaptive web design implementation is the site owned by Lufthansa airlines. You will notice that the desktop and mobile sites have been tailored to help users achieve different tasks. The desktop primarily helps users looking for sites while the mobile site is for those who have already booked their flight.

2. Amazon

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Amazon is one of the biggest retail sites today and is another good example of adaptive web design brought to life. Many users have noticed the impressive loading speeds when they access Amazon pages. This feature is very important for any website as it improves the UX and further helps the business develop.

3. Apple

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Apple’s site is simple but impressive. This website also uses an adaptive design to help users achieve what they want when they are browsing. Because this is a retail site, navigation problems should not be associated with it. It works fine on any screen and it has made the site quite popular.

Key features of responsive web design

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The most important goal of this design is to make the viewing experience as optimum as possible. It was developed to make sure that a website can function on any device regardless of the dimension of its screen.

In order to make this possible, web developers create a fluid grid. This is simply a design that will be able to work efficiently regardless of the size of the screen it appears on.

This UX optimization solution has made it possible for many web developers to create websites faster without having to worry about screen size.


  1. Responsive design increases the amount of traffic to a website. This is primarily due to the fact that many people are more comfortable accessing sites on their mobile devices than large desktops. Creating a responsive website makes it convenient for users who have such a preference.
  2. When it comes to a responsive design vs. adaptive design, it is safe to say that designing a responsive website will be done faster and will cost less.
  3. Another key difference between an adaptive and responsive web design is that the latter is easier to maintain. When compared to having a different website for desktops and mobile devices, responsive web design will require less attention to make sure the site is working on any device.
  4. Responsive web designs also help to load pages quicker. This is a feature that both adaptive and responsive web designs share. Users tend to leave pages that have slow loading speeds and this can affect your website’s traffic. A responsive design can motivate more people to stay on your website, further increasing the chances of conversion.
  5. Responsive website design also optimizes offline UX. Almost all mobile smart devices have HTML5. This means that with a responsive design, all devices with this feature will be able to continue to display content even if the connection to the internet is lost.


  1. One of the biggest problems with such a design is that the navigation can be negatively affected. This is primarily due to the fact that resizing a large webpage on a smaller device can affect the way the user interacts with it.
  2. When compared to developing a normal site, responsive ones are generally more expensive and cost more time to develop. In some cases, creating a responsive site can be as costly as developing two normal ones.
  3. It is almost impossible to run a responsive website on an older web browser. This is apparent because old browsers do not support the media queries needed to provide data about the dimensions of the screen.

Examples of websites

1. Dropbox

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Dropbox is one of the best examples of a responsive website that provide a great experience for users. The website also includes font color that can mimic that of the background. Images are also fluid but retain their quality.

2. Dribbble

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Dribbble is what you get when you add every feature of responsive web design into one project. It has a fluid display which looks great on large as well as smaller screens when it condenses. One of the best changes made on this site was removing additional content, which made the display look tidier, especially on smaller devices.

3. DoLectures

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This is another good example of a website with a design that is convenient for users on both large and small screen devices. You will notice that the content on small screens does not look cluttered and still maintains the appealing look it has on larger screens.

Summing Things Up

When we take a broad look at responsive vs. adaptive web design, we run into some similarities and differences. One thing many web developers can agree on is that these two types of web designs are both effective in improving the UX.

It is a bit far-fetched to come to a conclusion about which one is better. This usually depends on what you want to achieve with your framework and the tools you have at your disposal.

At Fireart.Studio, our team of web developers is ready to help you find an answer to your question about adaptive vs. responsive web design. We will provide you with the service of doing the work for you.