The increase and perhaps dominance of mobile devices has caused many changes in web design. Of course, every website should work well on phones, tablets and desktop devices.
One of the options to be considered is if the site should be a responsive or adaptive design.
The adaptive design adapts to different screen sizes. Designers must create layouts for the most common screen sizes in order for this to work. The adaptations of the design are limited to what the designer created for the website.
Responsive design style automatically resizes its layout depending on device size and environment. Only one design is needed, but coding must be hierarchical so that modules stack in the right order on smaller screens. Regardless of the device type, the design fits the screen.
It sounds like responsive design is the way to go, but despite its limitations, adaptive design has been a popular choice for web design over the years. Adaptive design is useful if you’re looking to add a mobile version of your website without redesigning all of your existing work. If you have a website and don’t have the time or budget to create a new, responsive one, adaptive design is a useful tool for retrofitting your existing site.
Another consideration is whether or not your mobile visitors have significantly different goals than your desktop visitors. If there are big differences, then it might make sense to choose adaptive design. An example is a website for a doctor’s office which might offer a full suite of capabilities on its desktop site, but offer easier, limited access to appointments and directions on an adaptive, mobile version. Then again, adaptive design means you need layouts of all size screens. Most designers would design for the most common screen sizes.
Retrofitting a website or adapting it for mobile is a good reason to go adaptive.
If you are starting from scratch, you’ll want to go responsive. More and more platforms, like WordPress and Squarespace, use responsive design templates. They only require one layout, so there’s no need for additional coding and design like there is for adaptive web design. Updating and maintaining your website is easier because there is only one layout to edit.
Responsive design also (usually) has a better UX because there is more consistency when viewing your website.
Are there any cons to using responsive? From a designer’s point of view, it lacks flexibility because having only one layout means you’re limited in terms of customization for different devices and screen sizes. Some people think these designs have slower load times because it requires additional code.
Conclusions? Adaptive design can be a good choice if you don’t have time to redesign your entire website or if you’re looking to simply add a mobile-friendly version. Responsive design is the modern approach to web development and if you’re creating a new website or completely overhauling your current one, it might be time to invest in responsive design.