RWD (3)

There has been some confusion about the difference between RWD and AWD, and within the last year, the terms have often been used interchangeably in the press. The concept and practice of flexible design is critical to creating websites that respond and flex to the display environment on desktops, smart phones, tablets and mobile devices. Credit for coining the ‘Responsive Web Design’ term is typically given to Ethan Marcotte ( The term AWD and ‘progressive enhancement’ is credited to Aaron Gustafson (, and is considered a more global approach to website that takes into account CSS, assistive tech support, levels of markup, and JavaScript. Both terms describe the design, development and deployment of technology and techniques to make a web site flexible enough to accommodate the various sizes of smart phones, tablets and desktops.


RWD is sometimes considered a component of the AWD building blocks and, as such might be thought of as a natural outgrowth of the AWD concept.

RWD creates a flexible environment in which images, fonts, colors, content and navigational tools can shrink, grow, wrap and adjust to fit the screen size and the device on which the user is viewing the content and it is based on relative proportion of various screen elements defined in the design.

AWD establishes thresholds and ranges and adjusts pixels, and site components based on the pixel- based sizes of various elements defined in the design.

While Adaptive Web Design establishes a display and navigation approach based on thresholds and ranges, the Responsive Web Design approach involves a design that adjusts size, font and other content and components based on the size of the screen.

Whatever the term you use to describe flexible site design, the concept is growing rapidly, and there is good reason for that. Businesses must satisfy customer, user and employee needs for flexible, responsive, easy to use applications and sites that meet the needs of a mobile community. These design approaches help the business to satisfy the needs of the user, by displaying content that is unique to the screen sizes and resolutions available for mobile, tablet and desktops.

As users, consumers and employees move beyond the age of newly mobile sites into the age of mobile demand, it is a competitive mandate that every business considers RWD and AWD, and adjusts their online presence to satisfy expectations. Every consumer, business partner and supplier expects to have easy, intuitive mobile access to a business site to get information or purchase a product or service. If a business site is cumbersome; if links, buttons and tools are hard to find, or do not display on the screen; if graphics don’t load on a mobile device; if features and functionality are not fully compliant with varied screen sizes, the business will lose customers and revenue.

The evolution of RWD and AWD is a response to the agile, flexible technology environment a user demands. It is that simple! If you want to retain and increase your site traffic and your revenue, it is necessary to build your website or portal using RWD and AWD techniques.