You may have heard about the emphasis on responsive website design recently – due to the news that Google will now be primarily ranking websites on their ability to display information readily across the range of connected devices. This means that responsive web design has never been more important, and knowing what decisions to take when reinventing or tweaking your web space can be a confusing time if you’re unfamiliar with the differing terms, such as adaptive and fully responsive web design.

READ: Responsive web design, what is it and why does it matter?

As a fully integrated full-service marketing agency in Hampshire, at Rooster we understand that investing in your website is a vital aspect of your marketing strategy, as it acts a window to your customers passing or searching the web. Knowing this, we’ve done a little research into two different types of responsive web design, focusing on the differences, benefits and ultimately which would be better for you business.

What is Adaptive Web Design?

Adaptive website design is characterised by using static layouts, which are based on breakpoints, – the points at which your screen width increases or decreases enough to change layout, ensuring information fits to the screen size.

If using adaptive web design, you will generally produce around 6 different layouts as standard. This will ensure a range of device sizes are compatible with your site.

The Benefits of Adaptive Web Design

  • You can choose to include a number of breakpoints, and for each of these you will have complete control of the layout design.
  • The number of layouts can be defined through studying your web analytics, ensuring your layout is optimised for the most commonly used devices – allocating resource in the right places.
  • Particularly suitable for retrofitting an existing site to enable responsive functionality without a total redesign.

With adaptive website design comes a list of negatives too; including that every screen resolution needs to be designed for and implemented, involving a higher level of maintenance with more screen sizes coming out each year, as well as new resolutions. If you’re looking for a future proof design that will last longer than a year, it’s worth considering responsive over adaptive website design.

What is Fully Responsive Web Design?

The main difference between the two is that fully responsive web design uses CSS media queries that work in percentages rather than fixed pixels. This enables the style and layout of the page to adapt based on the viewing device characteristics, such as orientation, height and width – without designing multiple bespoke layouts. Meaning that the website is fully responsive, rather than only adaptive to specific device sizes.

The Benefits of Responsive Web Design

  • Transitions are fluid when scaling between layout orientations.
  • The layout adapts based on a percentage width, meaning all layouts are designed with a single concept. Media queries are used to adjust for low and high resolutions.
  • Subsequently, maintenance and updates are easier to undertake.


So, which Web Design is best for my website?

Both above options are equally as effective for the purpose of ensuring your website is accessible on a variety of devices. Ultimately, the choice will be based on resource availability and your personal preference.

On the whole, if you’re investing in a new website – you may prefer to use responsive web design as although it tends to take longer to build as you have to test layouts on more devices; the bonus is more that the viewing experience is much more fluid, as the website experience is tailored more towards the device rather than viewing a desktop website on a tablet. It’s important to note that in this case, the responsive design will automatically shuffle your content too for the desired screen size, limiting your control visually, so, paying attention to this is a vital part of designing and maintaining an effective customer journey.

Adaptive web design may suit websites with a repeat function nature, such as login screens that are used by customers on the go for convenience, for example viewing timetables or message threads. It must be noted that a certain degree of modification is required during the setup of each adaptive layout, including a separate HTML and CSS code – however, if having a separate layout for mobile and opposed to desktop improves user-friendliness, this all adds value to your brand.

Responsive Web Design at Rooster Marketing – A Digital Marketing Agency in Hampshire

At Rooster Marketing, we have successfully implemented responsive web design for a variety of clients across a multitude of sectors, including construction, healthcare services and the retail industry.

Our philosophy remains the same, ensuring and improving your customer journey should be at the heart of your business marketing strategy – and responsive web design is a huge part of this. Our in-house SEO team have noted the substantial uplift in our client’s search engine rankings after responsive web designs have been implemented.

If you’re not sure whether your website is fully responsive, or would like some further information, get in contact on 01962 841 200 or email us at [email protected] where one of our team will happily advise.

When designing your new website, knowing whether to choose adaptive or fully responsive in order to benefit your business functionality is an important choice. So, here’s some of the positive and negative aspects to consider before you decide.