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Responsive Web Design vs. Adaptive Web Design


Article 1 is an informative article that defines and contrasts Responsive Web Design(RWD) and Adaptive Web Design(AWD). RWD was “coined” by Ethan Marcotte and is defined as a website that “will fluidly change and respond to fit any screen or device.” AWD was “coined” by Aaron Gustafson and is defined as a website that “utilizes many of the components of progressive enhancement” in order to “define the set of design methods that focus on the user and not the browser.” The two designs are similar in that they both varying screen sizes for monitors, cell phones, tablets, etc. They are different in that RWD focuses on “flexible and fluid grids” while AWD has a constant and standard screen size.

Article 2 is an opinion piece by Martin Clancy that argues that Adaptive Web Design is superior to Responsive Web Design. He starts by explaining the popularity of RWD, but notes that the opportunity cost of RWD is one of the greatest costs incurred. He then contrasts it with AWD by emphasizing the content customization available for Adaptive Web Design, which results in “lighter versions” of the website that load more quickly. Also, AWD developers can take advantage of features native only to smartphones and tablets. Overall, Clancy prefers AWD because developers can “segment traffic based on the visitors’ device” and “allows the ordering and payment process to be streamlined for mobile devices.”

Article 3 is, debatably, an informative article, however it leans more towards favoring Responsive Web Design over Adaptive Web Design. After defining the two types of web design, the article starts a subsection titled “Adaptive is Less Flexible”. The article claims that Adaptive results are based on its layouts (which don’t always match what was initially intended) compared to Responsive sites that work on every device. Also, Adaptive websites often require maintenance while Responsive website are “flexible enough to keep working on their own.” The next subsection, “Responsive Sites Load Faster”, praises RWD even more by stating that while Adaptive websites spend time loading every possible layout, Responsive websites only need to load the one layout appropriate for whatever device is being used.


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