ColdFusion Software Development Company ColdFusion Software Development Company

What is the Difference Between Adaptive and Responsive Design?

When your website serves both desktop and mobile users, it has to display properly across many devices. Adaptive and responsive designs use different delivery methods to provide this functionality.

Adaptive web design (AWD) uses an approach called progressive enhancement to present your site in a format suitable for each device that visitors use to access it. Starting with HTML templates designed for separate screen sizes, AWD then applies CSS styling and finally device-specific JavaScript to ensure a seamless experience. Only the relevant template is downloaded, which allows any included media to be optimized for mobile visitors.

With responsive web design (RWD), you only have to make one version of your website to serve all devices. CSS “media queries” detect device type. The site is then resized accordingly using a fluid CSS layout. Adopting a single template delivers the same pages, including images and media, to every device regardless of screen size or available connection speed.

Which is Best?
Both RWD and AWD have pros and cons. Though RWD is generally considered the best option for mobile optimization, the load time of responsive pages may be slower than adaptive ones. This is due to the fact that it delivers the exact same template whether a user is on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Large images, streaming media and complex scripts can all cause sluggish performance on a responsive site.

On the other hand, using one template that responds to all devices eliminates the need to create a fresh template every time new devices are released. It may require more coding at the outset, but a single template also offers better SEO performance thanks to the fact that search engine robots only have to crawl one set of HTML code to index the content.

AWD requires more pages and scripting than RWD, but pages load faster since only one template is displayed for each device. If you need a scalable option, AWD is easier to implement since it doesn’t require a complete design overhaul for existing sites. Visitors enjoy more fluidity thanks to the layered design, but you have to keep on top of device updates to ensure that you have templates in place for all common screen sizes.

The layout that you choose for your site depends on the needs of your users, your current site design and the amount of time and resources you can devote to development.


We would love to help.
Give us a call:

(718) 793-2828

Get a free project estimate:

Recent Comments