There are many articles and opinions about Responsive Web Design(RWD) and Adaptive Web Design (AWD), but one thing is for sure. The business benefits of RWD and AWD are numerous. While the upfront planning process for RWD and AWD may be a bit longer, the payoff in terms of customer and user satisfaction and increased bottom line is undeniable. Here are just a few of the benefits of redesigning or designing a site using responsive or adaptive web design.

  • Reach your audience easily through tablet and mobile
  • Improve conversion and sales ratio
  • Consolidate analytics
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Save cost and time in mobile development
  • Simplify website maintenance


Once a business has decided to embrace the concept of RWD and AWD for a new application, or for software re-engineering, user interface improvement or redesign, it must decide which technique will best accommodate its business goals, users and customers. While this decision may seem daunting, the concepts are actually quite simple.

The responsive web design technique is the simpler of the two techniques. This technique involves the plan and creation of one design that will leverage the display space available on each user device and screen size. This technique allows the business to use one design to accommodate current and future screen sizes. The trade-off in RWD is that it is more difficult to customize the view and the user experience to accommodate disparate devices and screen sizes as well as varied input methods like touch, stylus or keyboard.

The adaptive web design technique does just what the term implies. It ‘adapts’ to the user and the device using queries and states to create a user experience that is unique to each environment. By designing specific thresholds, the business ensures that the user experience will suit the device and input technique. When the thresholds are met, the layout changes to accommodate the minimum and maximum browser capabilities for a particular screen size and device.

If your application is meant to satisfy the needs of internal team members using one or two types of devices provided by the business, the use of RWD would be appropriate. If, on the other hand, your application or site is meant to serve a consumer community using all manner of devices from desktops, laptops and tablets to various brands and sizes of smart phones, the AWD technique would be more suitable for your purposes. As you can see, it is important to understand the intended use of the website or the application, as well as how your users and customers will interact with that site or application. With a definitive understanding of the intended use and purpose of your application or site and your users and customers, you will be better equipped to select a responsive or adaptive web design strategy and ensure a positive outcome for your design project.