June 30th, 2014

Adaptive vs Responsive Web Design

We’ve previously written several blogs about the pros and cons of Responsive Web Design as well as about native and hybrids. Our first responsive web project took place towards the end of 2011. Since then brands and agencies have quickly become fans of responsive web and it’s frequently promoted as the only solution for omni-channel services. However, there is also another potentially better solution in the shape of adaptive web design that has not received much attention. We started with mobile web development in 2006 and ever since we’ve been big proponents of adaptive design.

So why do we like adaptive web design?
Traditional web design delivers the same web site code independent of the device and presents exactly the same look and feel. Responsive web design adapts the look and feel to each device that it’s being viewed on but still delivers the same code to the browser.

The big advantage of adaptive web design is that the server detects factors like device and OS, and then sends the correct version of the site. This means

  • Faster delivery of pages
  • Image quality adapted for each device (high resolution images for iPad and lower resolution on a low-end Android smartphone)
  • Less data use means that plans last longer and the service works on slower networks
  • Allows the user experience to be tailored to each device type
  • Possible to adapt even to older feature phones with limited processing power and browsers

Companies such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay and Google all apply adaptive web design

Why doesn’t everyone use adaptive web design then?
Unfortunately the pros of adaptive also means that it requires more work and time and thus bigger budget. It’s also technically slightly more complicated. Therefore adaptive is primarily for those that are prepared to go all the way to deliver the best experience for each target device.

For more pros and cons on adaptive web please feel free to contact us and also read eConsultancy’s recent article.

Tags: mobile websites ux/ui

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