User Experience Design · Design

Responsive web design vs adaptive design?


February 20th, 2013

I'm working on mobile and tablet versions of an existing product that was not built using responsive design. What is the best way to convert / adapt? Should I start over? Are there helpful tools I should look into? There are a lot of sites that have drag and drop editors to convert a wordpress site to mobile but that wont meet all of my needs. I know this is a hot topic right now so any advice from someone who has recently done this would be great. Also wondering about the pros and cons of responsive vs adaptive.

Vladislav Pshenychka Marketer – Erminesoft

December 28th, 2016

It reminds me of a well-known problem «mobile app vs mobile website», just like it is discussed here, for example I guess the final thought is that all methods have their right to exist and the choice depends on your need.

Clynton Caines SharePoint Developer at Discover Technologies

February 20th, 2013

Hi, I think you said it best with "that wont meet all of my needs" - I don't know that anything will. What experience are you trying to offer to current/potential customers/users... That and time to market should usually dictate what you go with. It all depends on what works best for you, but m2c is to start with responsive and go from there. You may find that by the time you finish, that's where the devices have gone to anyway... ex: iPhone mini = what form factor and how many potential customers will buy the first version? Good luck, Clynton

Bryan Lalezarian CEO at MeUndies

February 20th, 2013

Hi Abby - I recently converted a custom HTML site to a responsive site using the Twitter Bootstrap framework: It's very good and easy to use. You have to have HTML / CSS experience tho to use it. My site was about 30 pages so it wasn't too bad to redo. It took me 3 days or so. I preferred this method to using Wordpress because I have more control of the site and am more comfortable with PHP / HTML / CSS. If you have a giant site, this may not be the best method tho. If you want to talk more about it, let me know.

George Song UX Designer and Web App Developer

February 20th, 2013

Hi Abby,

Unfortunately there's no silver bullet to just "convert" a site/app. Also, the terms responsive/adaptive are slung around quite a bit, sometimes interchangeably. I would argue that any site that adapts is also responsive. For me something that's responsive basically respects the device with which the viewer is looking at your content.

If you would like to talk about specifics of what you need to accomplish, please write to me privately at

Good luck!

David Lark Выпускник - Dnipropetrovs'kij Nacional'nij Universitet

October 10th, 2016

Hello Abby,

I see that you look for good explanation of “pros and cons of responsive and adaptive”

I could say that every kind of design is good, but for certain purpose. For instance:

Responsive websites are a good idea if:

- You are limited in time and financial resources.

- You have a simple clean design and functionality without the necessity to adopt it to various needs.

- You aim to increase the speed and ease of maintenance and the update process of your website.

Adaptive websites will be a great choice if:

- You are absolutely sure that you need an audience with a wide spectrum of devices.

- You have both time and financial resources to create and maintain several variants of your product.

Maybe, it will give you some food for thought. Also, I suggest reading this article -

It describes some basics of the topic.

Good luck!