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How a Designer Differentiate Responsive vs. Adaptive Web Design?

The year 2013 has witnessed the greatest slump in the sale of desktops and laptops in the course of the last two decades. According to Reuters, the PC sales figure has dropped by about 14%. This phenomenon has been largely attributed to the increase the use of smartphones, tablets and other touch devices. As a result, the number of users accessing internet from their smartphone and tablet has also increased and thus requiring the webmaster to develop responsive website so that the tablet or smartphone users can navigate through a website easily.

Web developers primarily use two techniques for developing interactive websites, responsive oradaptive web design in accordance with the technique used. These are two analogous solutions for solving identical problem. There are some minor differences in the method used for creating these two web designs. A brief description about these two web designing method as well as point of their point of differentiation is being mentioned here to provide the readers with a clear concept:

Responsive Web Design


Responsive web designs comfortably accommodate itself to gadgets of different sizes, dimension and pixels. In these web designs fluid grid structures and fluid images are being used. As a result the website can easily adapt itself to the width and breadth of different kinds of devices and provide the users with clear and appropriate view of the website from different devices. Even if you resize the dimensions of the browser from your laptop or desktop, then a responsive web design will respond accordingly and provide the viewers with a comprehensive view of the website.

Adaptive Web Design


In adaptive web design different kinds of styles are being preloaded in the website and it will change over from one to the other in accordance with the size of the gadget and the screen size. The change over takes place mainly surrounding three different layers i.e. content layer, presentation layer and client side scripting layer and thus it adapts itself to different gadgets of varying screens sizes.

Difference Between The Two Methods

Both these techniques have been developed with the aim of providing the mobile and tablet users with a better browsing experience from their wireless gadgets of different screen sizes. However, there are two primary dissimilarities between the two techniques. Firstly, in the responsive websites the grids are fluid and the foundation remains flexible. Therefore, responsive website automatically adjusts itself to different screen sizes. However, in the adaptive web design certain predetermined size combinations are already present and the website adjusts itself in accordance with the predefined sizes.

Secondly, for developing responsive web designs the developers have to use a lot of codes and other implementation strategies. However, the technique used for developing adaptive web designis simpler and requires the developer to follow a set procedure and make use of scripting language for making the websites adaptive.

As the use of wireless touch gadgets are persistently increasing the webmasters need to use one of these two techniques for making their website responsive. There are some drawbacks in both these methods but it is possible to overcome such drawbacks by using other latest technologies. So make the best use of technological advancements to get an edge in this age of cut throat competition.

Authors Bio : The above article is written for designsmag by Rosette who specializes in Graphic Designing and has vast experience in this field. She advises you to check the latest forum script which she has created for php developers. Currently she is associated with, a web designing companies as a consultant.

About the author


Naaz is a web designer and loves to find new tips and tricks for creativity purposes and likes to share them with the people.


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