When trying to decide between a website using responsive web design and adaptive web design, it’s useful to consider the business benefits to going responsive over adaptive.

For clarification, responsive designs change the layout on-the-fly based on the screen size while with adaptive designs there are several page layouts created specifically for device types (desktop/laptop, smartphone and tablet).

Reduced Initial Development Costs

Developing a single responsive design for a site allows the designer(s) to focus on a design that works well on different screen sizes. They can consider how a 1, 2 or three-column design will be displayed on larger and smaller devices. Their focus is squarely on producing a single design that’ll be functional across the broad spectrum of devices.

Designing multiple page layouts using adaptive design principles would take much longer. It leads to additional testing to ensure correct screen size detection and determining, for instance, whether a smartphone only design will look equally impressive on a smaller smartphone as well as a tablet.

Lower Maintenance & Redesign Costs

Maintaining and making tweaks or updates to an existing design is easier when there’s only one set of code to work with. Updating when you have three sets of page layouts is a mess that’s best avoided. Going responsive simplifies the maintenance and tweaking process considerably.

The same is true of major redesigns where a responsive site gets redesigned once, not into multiple versions. With an adaptive web design there will be multiple versions needing to be produced and tested thoroughly before officially releasing the redesign. This dampens the ability of the business to update or issue site redesigns every few months in fast-moving industries because of the extra time and hassle involved. With responsive design, everything is smoother and quicker to redesign. Do it once, check it looks good across different screen sizes, and you’re done.

Rapid Site Changes Faster and Easier to Do

For companies that have flash news stories of interest or wish to notify customers about special one-day discounts, adding these changes site-wide or page specific overnight is a tricky thing to do when you have multiple adaptive pages. For responsively designed sites, it’s a much faster change to implement to get the site up with the news or special offer, and to remove it in a timely manner afterward too. You’re no longer stuck with a site that is updated infrequently because it’s too much hassle to do.

Modern Looking Site Design

The most popular sites are almost exclusively all using responsive designs. While there are a few big newspaper media sites that use a desktop and mobile site split with a different web address available for visitors to use on a mobile device, this is largely an outdated approach that doesn’t speak well of the brand in the digital age.

Modern sites typically respond with a different layout depending on the device used. Site owners understand that the same visitor may view their site from a work computer during the weekday, but catch up with it on their tablet in the evening or on their smartphone on the way into work. Having a site that is highly usable while maintaining a familiar appearance on any device is a key advantage for businesses.

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