Which Is Better: Responsive Web Design Or Adaptive Web Design

Responsive web design and adaptive web design are currently talk of the town. Rising traffic from smartphones and tablets is forcing businesses to convert their traditional website into either a responsive one or an adaptive one. Are you wondering which one should you opt for? If so, you will first need to understand what they are.Responsive Web Design vs. Adaptive Web DesignResponsive web design:

Responsive web design, with the help of specific CSS code, modifies the website’s presentation per the device it’s being viewed on. The main advantage of this design is that a single code base for a website works on all kinds of devices – thereby making the life of developers and SEO professionals easy and smooth. Developers don’t have to worry about the maintenance of multiple code versions targeted at different device types and SEO professionals have only one website to optimize.

Adaptive web design:

In adaptive web design, a server will detect the device that’s being used for accessing the website, i.e., whether it’s a desktop, smartphone or a tablet. A separate template is maintained for each device and once the server determines the device that’s being used, it will render the appropriate template. All the versions of the website are housed on the company’s own domain and so the web pages load at a much faster pace.

Which is better?

Both responsive web design and adaptive web design make the website accessible from various devices.

However, which one will suit you better will depend on the answers to the following questions:

  1. Traffic: Study your website traffic and see what kind of information they are looking for. For example, analyze which pages do mobile users access, which sections tablet users visit the most and so on. If mobile users are looking for specific type of information, having a separate website for them would be a good idea. So an adaptive design triumphs over the responsive design in this case.
  2. Users’ behavior: Adaptive websites load faster and are more user-friendly as they offer the exact information that the user is looking for. So when your customers are older, simpler and faster design will work better with them.
  3. Devices: If you are having high number of mobile users from one of the few devices, then having an adaptive website for them is a good idea. However, if you are receiving traffic from a wide variety of mobile devices, go for responsive design.
  4. Website’s goal: If the focus of your website is content sharing, responsive design should be implemented.
  5. Budget: Creating multiple layouts for adaptive website is expensive; while responsive website needs creation of only one design, making it cost-effective.

Few Facts: Adaptive Design vs. Responsive Design

Adaptive Design vs. Responsive Design

Conclusion: Having either a responsive web design or an adaptive web design is a must when majority of your traffic is from devices other than desktop and laptop. However, you need to study your business in detail before deciding on the web design.


  1. William Hirst says

    When we talk about the best website design that gives a good UX, a combination of responsive and adaptive works well. As a user, it doesn’t matter to me which one is being used as long as the website loads fast and the elements like navigation offers easy functionality irrespective of the device that I’m using.

    • says

      Absolutely. The ultimate goal of responsive/adaptive design is to offer enhanced user experience to the visitors. The bottom line for any business is satisfying customers while optimizing operations.

  2. Mark Andrews says

    I’m relatively new in eCommerce business and my store gets traffic from desktops as well as mobiles/smartphones. I studied the percentage of traffic from those devices and it’s more or less the same. Which design should I opt for? And as I’m still in the initial growth phase, I don’t want to spend much.

    • says

      When the traffic is nearly same from all the devices, responsive design is a good idea. Also, when you have budget constraints, responsive design definitely makes sense.

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