Perhaps, one of the biggest debates the world has witnessed since the rise of mobile is whether businesses should opt for Responsive Web Design [RWD] or choose Adaptive Web Design [AWD]. I totally agree. Along with device screens, responsive websites also respond to the size of the browser. *May or may not contain any actual "CSS" leverage Jetpack for extra functionality and Local And I try to avoid this word in my own vocab. Responsive is the same layout in a fluid or snappy way responding to the browsers size. It’s seems like Analogical/Digital. Great article thanks for the clarification. I have a feeling this part was intentionally added just to have a point to differentiate responsive from adaptive (“adaptive adapts at specific points,” wth?). (snap design) or do I make that element fit it’s container ? The important thing is that the pages look good and are usable at any screen size and on any device. And I’d even like to use your animated gif showing the difference. There are just too many viewport sizes to cherry pick and target. As users switch across devices, our apps automatically accommodate the resolution, image size, and scripting. Responsive Design. Compare that with an adaptive way of thinking, which is neither fluid nor flexible, but looks for specific points at which to adapt. This is a question that comes up more regularly than you might expect. The examples you’ve shown seem to me like they are different forms of responsive design. Naturally, search engines give preference to websites that are responsive or adaptive. But, more importantly, RWD is hardly responsible for code bloat: You will slightly increase your CSS’ size (and, depending on your specific technique, might use a few more classes in your markup), but in most cases that will be all but irrelevant. Adaptive websites respond to the width of the browser at a specific points. ”,, I think a more accurate title to your blog post would be “The Difference Between Responsive and Adaptive Layouts.”. Your website’s CSS and HTML must align if you want your web content to render accurately across all screens. Responsive and adaptive are two concepts that are crucial in web design. Why not Fluid or Full Responsive and Stepped Responsive for the examples in this article. The related posts above were algorithmically generated and displayed here without any load on my server at all, thanks to Jetpack. Think about your business offerings and the kind of experience you want to give to your target customers. On larger devices, the navigation bars, text, and images are enlarged. Well, at least if it’s done correctly! First off, let’s take a closer look at such concepts as adaptive and responsive design to understand how mobile-first design is different. These words are new and that’s why we’re having hard times defining them. In my understanding author of this article got it wrong. Choosing between RWD and AWD takes careful consideration. I also understand Goldilocks to be the same thing: If you’re looking to dive into responsive design, the best thing to do is practice. Dropbox Very cool thoughts and links! The important takeaway is that the difference comes down to more than media queries and pixel units. Responsive But that way of adaptive can also be fluid or snappy. Like you say “larger buttons on touch devices”. All in all, I believe the points of ‘adaptive’ in regards to functionality of the site should be considered no matter how you choose to introduce media queries. Blog. ;) Whatever name you want to give it :). Well, according to me, Responsive sites and adaptive sites are the same in that they both change appearance based on the browser environment they are being viewed on (the most common thing: the browser's width). The difference is that Responsive design doesn’t care about what browser is used, it responds to the browser size and reflows the layout accordingly. Did you know that US consumers spent an average of 3 hours 6 minutes on their smartphones every day in 2020? The internet is full of responsive design tips and adaptive design tips, leaving the two separated. This is the way I prefer to use the term Adaptive Web Design, but most articles on the subject often discuss RWD vs AWD as if they would be different beasts. Adaptive design uses different web page layouts for different screen sizes. The initial philosophy is the one to be remembered (Ethan Marcotte’s original definition). It doesn’t need to respond or adapt to any devices until we start designing it. easy to read and navigate. Other examples of RWD include Dropbox, Dribbble, and GitHub. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. My philosophy is to use fluid breakpoints at smaller sizes which then become adaptive fixed sizes at larger screen sizes. Meaning that buttons on a desktop site might be smaller with less padding than those on the mobile version. However, they both have the same goal in mind. Stop going around in circles and start implementing a Content Marketing Strategy that works. Both change their dimensions based on the browser and device where they’re being viewed. describes it as. JavaScript creations. Responsive vs. Adaptive. Responsive website design (RWD) enables site designers to create once and publish the same content everywhere, for all devices. I’m sure this blog would have given you some valuable insights into the long-standing debate of responsive vs adaptive design principles. A table set to width 100% is responsive, at any viewport size. However, AWD has its own disadvantages and is labor-intensive to create. In my opinion: Is the browser 300px wide or 30000px wide? Adaptive vs. But putting too much time trying to define it your own way is a loss of time. Responsive sites and adaptive sites are the same in that they both change appearance based on the browser environment they are being viewed on (the most common thing: the browser’s width). That is how it works. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Four struggles new ecommerce sellers face, as well as the steps that you can take to make sure your budding brand isn’t dead on arrival. If my post made things look more complicated than they actually are, then this all in short: Resposive design is a subset of adaptive … To me that does not necessarily mean media queries, but if often will. Of course one can use @mediawith PX but % is better in RWD. So, yes, both responsive and adaptive designs can have larger buttons for larger screens. If you want to continue to lose your time with definition, please define then : liquid design, relative design, proportion-based design. *Except by ‘detection’ I meant ‘dependant’ :). That has obviously brought a shift in consumer behavior. I like your article so much I’m going to refer my friends to it. A significant benefit of a responsive design approach is that it’s inexpensive compared to adaptive … But, it seems in this article the point that it being called out is the difference between adaptive and responsive in the context of how site’s physically break down. Brad Frost’s article is much better IMHO The problem is that people come from the wrong paradigme. Because “adapt to” = “respond to”. See how the site snaps, it has 4 breakpoints. It is like when I am ordering a pizza the whole pizzeria is coming to my front-door instead that only my ordered pizza gets delivered. I think there is a distinction between responsive and adaptive designs. I have seen this crop up again and again, obviously Ethan officially coined the term ‘Responsive Web Design’, Luke Wroblewski coined the term ‘RESS’, but didn’t someone actually coin Adaptive Web Design and reserve it already? Looks like this article only added confusion instead of clarifying the difference, in part because the original terms are very poorly chosen. However, this may be because we are yet to find a simple solution to all the maintenance work that adaptive design requires. The confusion is always on the definition of the word “adaptive”. Are you eager to see better results for your ad budget? On the flip side, a responsive design is a good strategy for future-proofing a site against the possibility of any (perhaps even unreleased) device on the market. Responsive Design. Breakpoints within this overall fluid approach are there to optimize layout and other things at specific points. @zzzzBov you’re thinking about RESS (Responsive Server-Side), however I’ve also heard the term Adaptive used in that instance as well. Period. I completely agree. So, when a visitor lands on a web page, the server will identify their device and serve the website’s correct version. I think the difference between adaptive and responsive is best demonstrated by … essentially: Responsive = Fluid + Adaptive (or perhaps Responsive = Fluid x Adaptive! If you choose RWD, you need to create one version of your website, which adjusts itself based on the screen size. True responsive design is fluid, using CSS3 media queries to respond to any screen sizes. So, which one should your expert web developers go for to render an excellent user experience? It’s HOW you implement the philosophy. has specific changes, which might include shape, but also ‘mutates’ content for the type of device. CSS-Tricks is hosted by Flywheel, the best WordPress hosting in the It enables them to alter the site’s HTML markup depending on the capability of the device. Designers usually design an adaptive site for six common screen widths- 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, and 1600. I knew Adaptive Webdesign as the technique described here, as well. While I do agree that there is a distinction in how you describe the difference between both methods, it sounds more like what you’re describing as adaptive design is closer to the definition of Responsive Server Side (RESS). The difference is that one version (responsive) uses relative units (e.g. I think Brad Frosts’ article The Many Faces of Adaptive Design explains both adaptive and responsive design well and it describes the term ‘adaptive layouts’ as the method of snapping to fixed widths. Responsive web design has become a household term since it was coined by Ethan Marcotte on A List Apart in 2010; so much that we may take our understanding of it for granted. Adaptive vs responsive web design. The tech stack for this site is fairly boring. I figured the best place to start was to get to know more about adaptive and responsive web design after all these are the two techniques used to implement websites throughout screen design. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which AWD technique we use for our sites, we just need to be damn sure to provide the best UX to our visitors and users. I thought the same and I’m also confused by this post. It’s very good sharing of the topic. Or that 69% of consumers prefer looking at reviews for a product on their mobile phones than approaching in-store staff? Responsive – “reacting quickly and positively” – i.e responding ‘fluidly’ or ‘adaptively’ to changes in the environment, such as browser rezise. I had the very same thought. Moreover, search engines may have trouble appreciating identical content on multiple sites. I don’t know where this came from, but I thought adaptive described adapting to the context of the device the page is being rendered on. CSS-Tricks* is created, written by, and maintained by Chris I’m not even going to go there. 17th Jun, 2016 by Emily Blake. This comment thread is closed. The context in which the site is viewed needs to ‘adapt’ to the user and how they are using the site. By the official definition, it is just fluid, not responsive, but I don’t agree, because a fluid design without breakpoints responds to any viewport size. Adaptive websites adapt to the width of the browser at a specific points. There are a few meanings I’ve heard: The same applies to mobile browsers. But actually responsive design is adaptive, and vice-versa. the key differences between responsive and adaptive design?Put simply, responsive is fluid and adapts to the size of the screen no matter what the target device. For instance, if you open a desktop browser, the website chooses the best layout for the desktop screen. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a philosophy coined by Ethan Marcotte but, everything else is techniques used to implement that philosophy. Adaptive design, on the other hand, snaps into place because the page is serving something different because of the browser or device it is viewed on. browser conditions, device, etc.) I've used WordPress since day one all the way up to v17, It doesn’t matter because the layout will respond accordingly. It uses static layouts based on breakpoints that do not respond dynamically once they initially load. Just like responsive websites, an adaptive site will adjust the layout of the page depending on the width of the browser, but it does so in a different fashion. The popular cms like WordPress or Joomla don’t make it easy for building adaptive sites. an image gallery if you want (for whatever reason) your images to always be displayed at a width of exactly Xpx with Ypx between: Once you have enough room to add another 1 or 2 items, adapt the container’s width to allow for those items to be added to the row. Responsive websites work well for sites that have a lot of content and minimal expectation for user intent or device consideration. It might be possible to hand craft media queries for perfect fluidity on a small site, or one that only has a couple of possible page layouts. ShopTalk is a podcast all about front-end web design and development. Google looks upon both fondly as they improve user experience and enable visitors to smoothly consume content on the websites. Or just understand it’s all the same. Smart adaptive designs are using responsive design technologies for front-end processed adjustments but free the device from wading through a huge swamp of stuff which is not needed by the requesting device (client). Update: There has been a lot of awesome conversation in the comments about the difference between responsive and adaptive design. Rather than the traditional approach of designing web pages for viewing on just desktop or laptop PCs, responsive design utilizes a variety of newer web development features and functionality to deliver an o… Responsive = websites respond to browser resizing, period. And to add to the confusion: hybrid scenarios are possible. Most of the sites I have put together and most sites I visit actually seem to combine elements of both responsive and adaptive into an overall hybrid form of design. Irrespective of the browser width (400px or 40000px), the website adjusts to a layout that is optimized for the screen. That's a good thing! We just need to scrap all names and terminology and come up with a community wiki defining each one. As if it wasn’t just the same thing. Adaptive: layout (and other things) respond (confusing term) only at specific breakpoints, and not in between breakpoints. Are you forced to choose one over the other? Glad I’m not the only person to whom this article felt weird/wrong. While RWD is configurable, it also comes with a few limitations. Seems like there is an opportunity her to redefine these terms to make them more clear. What really can make a big difference (especially in RWD) is Adaptive Images – only sending a max480x480 image on a 320×480 screen instead of the original 2MB image)! I say let’s just let adaptive design fade away as a term. While Google always recommended RWD back in 2015 as it ranked mobile-friendly sites higher, developer preferences oscillate between RWD and adaptive design due to the rise in different devices. Or risk losing a significant chunk of potential customers. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. That’s my interpretation. So let us move further because we are going to show you some excellent illustrations of responsive and adaptive websites. But, the way with which they do it makes the difference. According to what I have read the only thing you see which separates what you call Adaptive and RWD is the lack of Fluid grids. Everything we produce at gomo is both responsive and adaptive to provide the best user experience possible whilst maintaining the quality of the content. Each version of the design is assigned to specific browser widths, called ‘anchor points’. At the end of the day, though, we all have a fairly good sense of what responsive design is. Responsive design often takes less work for a UX designer to create, but they will have to work with the developer to ensure the layout of the site is usable at each possible screen size. Could apply to a fixed size browser experience, where expanding some content makes existing content flow around. As mentioned earlier, AWD requires more development work, as you will need to create different versions of the website based on different screen sizes. When I talk with people at work or at a meetup and they say “adaptive” I always ask what they mean by adaptive because we all have different definitions. CodePen is a place to experiment, debug, and show off your HTML, CSS, and On the other hand, adaptive design adapts to the browser environment specifically, and may or may not take into account the browser’s current size. Like in responsive design, adaptive design sites also use the CSS media queries, but they also include JavaScript-based enhancements. There is nothing “fixed” about responsive design. Which is much closer to how I think of Adaptive Design. AWD is merely another word for progressive enhancement, in which RWD is usually an integral part. 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And start implementing a content Marketing Strategy that works devices until we start designing.. On desktop, tablets, smartphones, and show off your HTML, CSS and.