How Mobile-First Web Design Is Different From Adaptive and Responsive?


May 6, 2021 - 3 min read

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As soon as people started linking mobile phones to websites, a lot of special varieties of our sites explicitly got optimized to work only on pocket-size mobile devices. At the moment, some sites still use this method. We create a mobile site for users with cell phones and point the rest to the primary desktop view. Now cellphones are “smarter,” thus two new methods to design for small and large screens got developed — these are adaptive and responsive designs.

History Of Design Elements

Responsive Design is largely attributed to Ethan Marcotte. The credit for the term Adaptive Design goes to Aaron Gustafson who inscribed a book called Adaptive Design. Another term used for mobile design is called “Mobile First.” Luke Wroblewski earns credit for the label Mobile First. It means designing the mobile adaptation of a site before you design the bigger, desktop edition. In general, most sites were planned with the desktop version first.

What Is Adaptive Design?

It was developed to meet the various needs of a rising number of cell phones with diverse abilities and screen proportions. You need to create numerous adaptations of each web page and install complex programming on your web server that perceives each gadget and distributes a version of the site augmented for the cell phone screen size. Adaptive design is complex, exclusive, and usually used only by large, well-funded websites.

What Is Responsive Design?

Luckily, responsive design is speedily gaining support. With responsive design, you make one web page and then use numerous arrangements of CSS rules to modify the format and design built on the dimensions of the browser window.

Anything Common Between Them?

Both of these web designs are fundamentally about creating web designs that are enhanced for the dimensions of the screen or the kind of device that is worked to view them. The rudimentary concept is that you make a website that functions on numerous screen sizes.  In short, it easily works best on three different screen sizes — a small-scale mobile screen, a tablet-sized display, and a larger desktop.

What’s The Main Difference Between them?

Responsive designs counter to variations in the width of a browser window by altering the position of elements on a web page to easily fit any space. Therefore, as you linger on the browser to make it bigger or smaller, you’ll see the design adjust in real-time. Visit that site on an iPhone, or iPad, and you will notice that the design is besieged to fit the size of the device.

Whereas, adaptive designs use an urbane auto-detection cursive on the webserver to recognize each device and then distribute the best adaptation of the site. Consequently, the site doesn’t alter if you drag the browser. Nevertheless, if you see the site from different mobile devices, you’ll notice unique designs and content as with adaptive design you can have entirely different varieties of content and design.

Why Choose Responsive Over Adaptive Design?

The reason is simple. Adaptive design is tough and costly. Whereas, responsive design is the latest development and is operating CSS media queries. It is also not used by old or inadequate mobile phones. If you’re working on an extremely developed website, which has to be interactive, and a secure site – then you have to make an adaptive design. In an ideal world, you also need to have a huge team of developers and finances.

A lot of designers are selecting responsive design nowadays. Not only because it’s economical and undemanding. Furthermore, it’s well-organized to make one design that fine-tunes to various screen sizes of current and upcoming devices as well. Soon websites will be displayed on giant television screens, so it’s not only phones, tablets, laptops, or desktops anymore. Very soon we’ll be browsing with Google’s new glasses – Google Glass, and many more such inventions.

But, What About Folks Using Old Mobiles?

It’s fateful that responsive websites don’t exert on truly old or limited cell phones. Furthermore, if your business focuses on emerging markets like AsiaAfrica, or Latin America – then you do have to think. Therefore, you have to create an adaptive website if you have reserves. If you can’t – then think of designing one simple mobile-responsive site. You’ll have to curb the features, but at best it will be reachable to everyone in your viewers. If you’re designing websites for more developed markets then responsive design is the ideal choice.

Whatever you chose, it better resonates with your business goals. Drop us a message at and let us connect and support all of your design requirements.

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