What is Adaptive UI Design?

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You may see the Adaptive design in many apps and websites in UI. From the giant corporate monitor to the smartwatch, there are many ways that users can access information online today. This is a challenge that every web and app designer currently faces—designers looking to bridge the gap between devices. As an app designer or web designer, you may wonder what Adaptive design is and how it will work for your projects or not. Lets find out anything you may know about Adaptive UI design.



Adaptive design.

Adaptive design is a user interface that’s adapted to multiple screen sizes. Adaptive layouts react to input from users, devices, and screen element’s. There are multiple fixed layouts that render the most closely to the device of the user, whether it’s a tablet, phone, computer or some other device. It was also introduced by Aaron Gustafson, a web designer, in his book in 2011. This is also called the progressive enhancement of websites. A good example to better understand this UI design is opening a browser on the desktop; it chooses the best user layout based on the screen size without impacting design. In adaptive design, it’s normal to develop designs for the most common screen widths; 320, 480, 760, 960, 1200, and 1600 pixels.



Why Adaptive Web Design?

One of the reasons you may use Adaptive UI design is that we could create three different layouts for each device. Or two layouts: one for mobile device and one for desktop/tablet. Adaptive is useful for retrofitting an existing site to make it more suitable for mobile phones. If you want to design an adaptive website from scratch, that’s OK too. You can start again at the lowest resolution, and then work your way up. It can be extra work designing and developing a site adaptive for multiple viewports, so it’s usually used for retrofitting. The advantages of adaptive design can be huge, especially if you’re in a position where you can optimize everything.



Advantages of Adaptive Design

Here are the most common advantages of Adaptive design:

Targeted for each user: Adaptive web design creates different versions of the website for different devices to increase user experience on individual devices. On each device, users should have a positive experience. In this web design, one can customize and change page content and layout to best fit the screen and improve user experience.

Increase load time: Adaptive web design creates different layouts for different devices and displays the best features for specific websites. Whenever users load a website on their device, the layout that fits best on the device screen gets loaded. This increases loading speed as traffic is decreased. The server detects device size and then provides a layout that will fit best on the screen. It provides high-resolution graphics only when it detects a high-density screen.

Reusable existing websites: Some complex websites are developed using legacy code, i.e., source code written using outdated technology or is no longer supported and is incomprehensible. Adaptive websites have different versions of a layout for different devices. So, if one wants to change or update something, they do not need to go back to the drawing board and re-code the existing website from the starting point.

Advertising monetization: Monetizing websites using ads will bring in more revenue and increase your earning potential. An adaptive website is the best way to optimize advertising options, as adaptive websites are designed to fit best on the device it is viewed on. There is no need to change or replace the ratio of banners, images, etc., for smaller resolutions to display best on-screen because smaller versions of websites are available.



Is ­adaptive design right for your project?

A more user-friendly design is possible. An adaptive website recognizes what device is being viewed and creates a layout that will best fit the screen. This is the best way to make your website mobile-friendly. The client or browser does not decide on the adaptive layout. It is determined on the back end, where the server determines the device and operating system type and then corrects the layout. Let’s see where it is more efficient to use adaptive design.


New build or existing site

The adaptive design might be an easy way to bring the site into other breakpoints or devices if you’re retrofitting an existing site. Also, an adaptive design could still be worth investing in if you want to build a new site.

Look at your current traffic

A few devices dominate your current traffic, this could be a prime adaptive design candidate. For sites that are speed dependent, adaptive web design is the best. Users also prefer to save time and have faster pages loaded. This improves user experience. However, your solution might be better suited for responsive design if you have many different devices on your site.

Fix set target devices

If you’re designing for a POS system, flight kiosks, mobile e-commerce, etc., with specific screen size’s, the adaptive design could be a good solution.



Responsive Design vs. Adaptive Design

Put, responsive is fluid and adapts to the screen size no matter the target x device. Responsive uses CSS Media queries for changing styles based on the target device. This includes display type, width and height. Only one is required to allow responsive websites to adapt to different screen sizes.

You may like: Adaptive Design Vs. Responsive Design

Adaptive design on the other hand uses static layouts that are based on breakpoints and don’t respond after they’re loaded.

Responsive web design allows designers to show content based on the available browser space. While it might be prudent to stick to a responsive design for expedience (saving cost, improving SEO, and keeping users content with a seamless experience between devices), It is important to compare the pros and cons of each design.


Adaptive is useful for retrofitting an existing site to make it more mobile-friendly. This type of UI design allows the designers to take control of the design and develop for multiple viewpoints. The designer can select the viewpoints according to the needs of the user and the types of devices focus groups are using.

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