Briefly about adaptive design

As digital devices become increasingly diverse in size and functionality, it’s important that your site looks good and worked for all of them. This can be achieved through adaptive design, which adjusts the display of content according to specific characteristics of the user’s device.

Understanding all the nuances of responsive design can be quite difficult, so we have prepared a special guide that will help you can find your way in it. Read on to create a site that delivers an engaging user experience, regardless from your audience’s device or location.

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What is adaptive design?

Responsive design is a method of developing sites and applications that focuses on creating interfaces that are tailored to the device. This approach involves developing different layouts for different screen sizes, resolutions and orientations. For example, if users visit the site from a computer, they will see a layout optimized for a large screen, usually with multiple columns and detailed visuals. If they open the same site on a smartphone, the adaptive design will display a layout optimized for the small screen, possibly with one column, larger touch targets and simpler images

What is the peculiarity of adaptive design?

In the English language, there are similar concepts — responsive design and adaptive design, which are translated into the Ukrainian version like responsive design. At the same time, there is a difference between them. In the first case, we are talking about a technique that uses media queries CSS and flexible grids to create a site layout that can dynamically adjust and change depending on screen size user In essence, this is a universal approach designed to make websites look and work correctly on different platforms devices, from large desktop monitors to small mobile screens.

In the second case, static layouts designed for a certain screen resolution are used. When the user visits the site, the server determines the characteristics of the device (for example, screen size and resolution) and provides appropriate layout. This approach allows you to create an individual user experience for each type of device.

The main advantage of responsive design is a high degree of control over how your site is displayed on different devices. It also allows for faster download times, as only device-specific resources are downloaded. However, responsive design also has its drawbacks. It requires the creation of multiple layouts and constant maintenance because new devices with different screen sizes appear on the market.

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Key principles of adaptive design:

Progressive improvement

Progressive enhancement focuses on the main content of the web page. This approach involves creating a base version site and then adding more complex features and capabilities that make the site work better for users with more modern devices browsers or higher bandwidth. So even if the user’s device or browser is unable to handle certain design elements, he can still access the main content and functionality of the site.

Focus on mobile devices

The mobile-first approach involves developing the mobile version of the site before the desktop version. Focusing on the mobile version, designers provide full site functionality on small screens and add additional features and elements only as you scale screen size.

Content priority

In responsive design, it is important to prioritize content based on user needs and device capabilities. The principle of priority ensures that users will receive the most relevant content first, regardless of devices, which they use. It also helps designers decide which elements to display on smaller screens and which ones to display on bigger ones.

Considering the context

Responsive design is context-oriented, meaning it takes into account the user’s situation and environment. This could be the definition features of the device, location, time of day or even user behavior, which allows for a special experience. For example, a site can display different interfaces when accessed from a laptop in the home office and from a smartphone in a busy city center.

Flexibility and modularity

In responsive design, components must be flexible and modular. This allows you to rearrange elements for different screen sizes, while maintaining the integrity of the design. In addition, components can be reused on different pages and layouts, which makes the design process more efficient.

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The main approaches of adaptive design:

  • Flexible grids

Unlike fixed grids, which have a predetermined width, flexible grids are based on percentages. This means that they can adapt to different screen sizes and orientations.

  • Adaptive images

All media files must be able to resize according to the size and resolution of the screen so that your content looked good on different screens.

  • CSS media queries

They apply different styles and layouts depending on device characteristics such as width, height, resolution and orientation. It allows you to define how your site should look on a PC, tablet or smartphone.

  • Detection of devices and functions

Server-side device discovery and client-side feature discovery help verify which features are available in the user’s browser, and adjust the functionality of the site accordingly.

  • Design for different input methods

Your site should support different input methods such as mouse, touch, keyboard and even voice. This guarantees ease usage, regardless of how users interact with the site.

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Top tips for creating responsive web pages:

1. Remember the users

The ultimate goal of responsive design is to improve the user experience. During its development, always consider the needs, user habits and potential limitations. Research and testing will help guide your design decisions compliance with user expectations and preferences.

2. Test across devices and platforms

Because there are so many different devices and browsers, testing your design on as many platforms as possible is critical. It will help detect and fix any problems before users experience them. Consider the possibility using both emulators and real devices for testing

3. Optimize performance

The speed of operation and responsiveness of the site are key factors in meeting user expectations. Adaptive design can help you optimize performance by loading only the necessary resources for each device. Try a technique like lazy loading, where images or other content are loaded only when needed.

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4. Ensure accessibility and inclusiveness

Your site or app should be accessible to everyone, including users with disabilities. Making decisions about design — from choosing a color contrast to adding alt text for images — consult a guide with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

5. Maintain consistency

Despite differences in layout and functionality across devices, make sure the overall look and message is consistent of the brand remain unchanged. Users should feel like they are interacting with the same site or application, regardless of device.


Given the variety of devices and screen sizes, responsive design is not just an option, but a necessity. Understanding and implementing responsive design may seem like a daunting task, but knowing its principles and techniques will help you do it the site is efficient, inclusive and user-friendly. In this way, you can not only increase the level of satisfaction users, but also increase their engagement and conversion.

Source — blog.depositphotos

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