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Jun 1
Web Development
Eric Phung

Responsive Web Design vs Adaptive: Which Should You Go For?

Responsive web design is the new solution for your site. Not only making your web page multi-device friendly, but responsive web design also improves it visually on many screen sizes. But is responsive design overrated? Do you really need to use it on your site? Read more about it right here!

Responsive Web Design vs Adaptive: Which Should You Go For?

Responsive web design is one of the most popular terms with business owners, marketers, and designers in recent years. It’s said to help to solve a lot of problems with websites, especially in the rise of mobile usage at the moment. Responsive web design is said to be much more productive and effective than adaptive design. But are there any further explanations for that? 

With responsive web design, it could reformat to fit into whatever devices users are using, creating a much better experience online. However, to finally get to the conclusion of whether you should include it on your site yet, we’ll need to know more about the basics. In this article, we’ll introduce you to responsive web design, adaptive design, and the importance of each within users' experience. The most detailed answer would never come easy, right? Now let’s get into it! 

What is responsive web design? 

We believed that every bit of the word “responsive web design” had shown what it’s all about. It represents the feature of a website, in which one site can be adjusted automatically to any device size. Your site will immediately scale up or down its elements and detail content to fit the screen of its users, so that they won't have to do any extra work. As the number of mobile device users increased, there is a slim chance that they would see your site through any other platform. In fact, up to 70% of the current website traffic is coming from mobile, so you’d want to take advantage of that.


With responsive web design, your users would never have to zoom, turn their phone over, or panning to see all your content anymore. Without all that fuss, you’ll be much less likely to lose any potential customers, or make them frustrated all over your webpage ever again. It creates a seamless experience among devices, and customers will thank you for that. And my friend, that is the main goal of responsive web design. 

Thus, responsive web design also saves you a lot of time. Instead of designing multiple designs for each device (which are endless), you can now just have a webpage that could scale itself to match the device. Your website will look great anywhere, on desktop, tablet, or many phone sizes. And until today, it’s no longer an option anymore. It’s the most important requirement of a website and your customers expect that perfect experience every single time!

How about adaptive web design? 

Adaptive web design also allows you to adapt your design to many different sizes. Not much different from responsive design, right? However, it’s only limited to a few layouts sizes that were once a standard for website design. With adaptive web design, developers must work with the 6 most common screen sizes: 320, 480, 760,960, 1200, and 1600 pixels. To the best advantage, an adaptive website allows you to tailor your graphics and content to some standard sizes to create a much more pleasurable design. But the drawbacks of it are undeniable, especially in comparison with responsive web design. 


Using an adaptive website means a designer will have to make 6 versions of a site to match with users’ screens. Therefore, it’s time-consuming and much more expensive. Thus, what if your users don’t have that standard screen resolution and sizes? Does it mean that they’ll experience faults of some kind? To be completely honest, yes. With adaptive design, it’s hard to truly have the seamless, exactly the same experience as with responsive design. Because of the growth of mobile devices, there are more and more screen sizes every single time these brands pop up with new products. That’s why it’s getting impossible for designers to adapt all those widths and sizes for one website design. 

However, the adaptive website would come into handy for old websites that would want to go for an update. Apparently, these old websites couldn’t become responsive in under 1 night. But by making it adaptive, these sites now could give their users a much better experience overall.

As the digital world is evolving, adaptive web design began to fall behind and replaced by responsive design. So for the battle between responsive web design vs adaptive, we’ll have to go for the best, most cost-effective one. 

How important is responsive web design? 

Before having any conclusion about responsive design’s importance, we’ll show you many great benefits of using it. 

  1. More mobile traffic: 

Due to the rocket rise of mobile devices and their users, after a few years, traffic from mobile has overtaken desktop users. Meanwhile, previously, many businesses had been familiar with creating 2 versions of their sight to match with these 2 types of users. Some are still using this way, but we’ve always seen it as a time-consuming and costly solution. 


With responsive web design, you can have just one website that is ready to match all devices available in the world. It provides a much better experience for your users on multi-device, making them comfortable when scrolling through your site. The greater this performance is, the better chance users will remember you and re-visit when they’re in need. 

  1. Online/ Mobile shopping is rocketing: 

Currently, we’ve always known that shopping online is much simpler than driving a long way to a store. Thus in the Covid-19 pandemic, people are reducing physical contact as much as possible. Now with their mobile device on hand 24/7, people could shop from everywhere! Sitting on their favorite couch, on the bed, or even right at work, it’s unlimited shopping time. And as a business owner, why miss out on such opportunities? You could be making impressive revenue at 3 AM during your sleep, while your website takes care of all the processes for you. If your site is not yet mobile-friendly, then this should be a sign for you to start now.

  1. Take advantage of social media: 

The conversion rate from social media to the website is getting higher than ever. If people “accidentally” find out about you while they’re scrolling through Facebook/ Instagram or Twitter, they’ll be more likely to click on your site. Your main job is to attract more and more users to view your website. And with responsive web design, there is not much left to worry about. Besides that, don’t forget to have a clear and effective social marketing strategy besides just a good website. 

  1. Much less effort for maintenance: 

Another massive benefit of responsive web design is it requires much less cost and effort for maintenance and set up. Imagine taking care of 4-6 different layouts, compared with only 1 design, you’ll see how much time you save with responsive design. Not only it frees your time, but it also takes much less cost as well. From that, you can use those resources to invest in other aspects of your business. 

  1. A seamless user experience: 

By far, this is an undeniable advantage of using responsive web design. We’ve all hated seeing content and graphics stumbled across each other on a website when seeing on mobile or tablet devices. Not only is it annoying, but it also stops us from learning more about the brand/ products or services that businesses are trying to provide. 

To avoid all of that, responsive web design comes in handy. A smooth, seamless will prevent your users from hopping onto another website and losing that part of the revenue. It might be a bit of work at the moment, but a responsive website will benefit you a lot in the long run. 

  1. Boosting your SEO ranking: 

Alright, this might seem unrelated, how could responsive web design keep your SEO going high? The answer is simple, the lower the bounce rate, the better ranking you’ll have. 

When your website is optimized to fit nicely on any screen size, along with high-quality content, eventually users will want to stay to get more information. More importantly, Google now has a separate algorithm for mobile devices. So ranking high on desktop won’t ensure that you’ll be ranking the same on mobile. 

Thus, responsive design is what Google highly recommends for most websites. To them, those sites will perform much better both in search rankings and user experience. So if you’re really interested in Search Engine Optimization for your website, responsive development is what you should go for. 

  1. Any screen size you want!

We’ve mentioned this feature many times, yet it’s still the main plus point of responsive design. With this feature, you’ll have much more advantages than your competitors. Small screens or even larger ones are not a problem anymore, your website will automatically adapt to that.  Users will see that you’re taking care of their experience and would be happy to come back many more times. No matter what devices they’re on, if your site could seamlessly adapt to that, then it would be a truly game-changing experience. 

Is responsive design overrated? 

We’ve shown you all the best features of responsive web design, and now you might be wondering if there are any downsides, right? There is no way it could satisfy everyone without leaving any demerits trait, obviously. We’ve to be honest, there are always pros and cons when it comes to digital solutions, and so does responsive web design. 

Loading time


The largest weakness of a responsive page is its loading time. When we go a little bit further into how it works, you’ll see why. A responsive web design often delivers more content to your web browser and asks the browser to sort it all out to fit your screen width. Any work that requires more re-platforming would lead to a drag on the speed of a website. However, if your web developer could do it right, then this won’t be a dramatic weak point of your site. It will take a little bit longer to load, but not that annoying that would cause you to lose revenue.

Different needs

Responsive design also falls short on some occasions when businesses would want to create a different experience between mobile and desktop. Since it’s multi-device-friendly and would adapt to all screen sizes, it can’t be specially designed for one platform only. But in omni presence, users on the different platforms would have different problems and priorities. Mobile users will be triggered by much different placement of call-to-action that desktop users don’t. Mobile experience also asks for much richness of interaction such as location, voice, motion, or touch enhancement. So a one-size-fits-all wouldn’t be the real ideal solution in some cases. 

Responsive web design is absolutely useful under many circumstances, and it would still do for upcoming years. However, it’s not the ultimate web strategy that would solve everyone’s problem. When adapting it to your business, you’ll have to consider many elements and features to make sure the best outcome. Think of it as an effective tool to deliver your business/brand to users, not the one and only choice you could make. One more detail you should think about is your products. If you’re selling what people are most likely to purchase online and through phone, then responsive development is a great choice. But if its value is much higher, then you’ll need to consider other options as well. 


Responsive web design is an absolutely effective feature that allows your website to freely display on all kinds of screen resolutions. It keeps your business away from a lot of fussiness, and makes your customers satisfied. And most importantly, it saves you a lot of time, cost, and resources. You just never go wrong with a clean and neat website design. 

However, besides all the sparkling benefits, responsive web design also has some weaknesses. Before using it on your site, we highly recommend you have a look through your business plan and strategy to see if it’s necessary. Don’t forget that a good-looking website is just the spine for you to work with your contents and visuals. But the fact that a professional, seamless, and easy-access website always creates a much more positive impression.