The Victor in the Mobile Design War

According to eMarketer, there are approximately 115.8 million smartphone users. By 2016, that number will grow to 192 million users! Without a doubt, a smartphone is no longer the stuff of science fiction movies and books; these are now everyday devices that most of us can’t live without.

While they’re convenient, one annoying problem everyone has experienced is that the mobile versions of websites are considerably less advanced than the phones they appear on! Frankly, these sites are difficult to browse and barely function properly at all!

Whether the mobile site is so simplified that it hardly offers any information or it requires you to keep zooming in, it’s safe to say that it’s a pain.

So the bottom line is this: there’s one epic war being waged—adaptive design versus responsive design! Who will win? Let’s find out!

For nearly 12 months, we have been recommending responsive design over adaptive design for the web and educating our clients on how multi-screen (desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphones) use requires one consistent design and user experience.

Adaptive design, on the other hand, is stagnant and is what smartphone users see over and over again.

What is adaptive design?

Simply put, adaptive design is a simplified version of the website designed for your mobile device. This simplified version tends to feature a pared down layout, which often lacks features from the original site altogether. Basically, the site is simple, boring, and meant to give some information and nothing else.

What is the difference between adaptive design and responsive design?

Responsive design basics, summed up:

  • Google recommended best practice
  • One site instead of a mobile and a desktop version
  • No pinching and zooming
  • Same user experience across all devices
  • No site sniffers!
  • Better SEO

Who wins: responsive design or adaptive design?

We promised that responsive design would be the winner of the great design war, and now we’ll show you the numbers that prove it!

We took four of our automotive sites; all featuring the same brand, and compared numbers from their mobile site. One responsive, three adaptive—and let me tell you, the numbers speak for themselves!

The responsive website design held a commanding doublethe number of pages per visit, half again as much as time spent on site! The most impressive number of all, however, is the responsive website design had one-thirdof the bounce rate!

If that last term doesn’t ring a bell, the bounce rate of a website refers to the percentage of all visitors that come to one page of the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than viewing any other pages on the same site.

As the numbers show, across many sites, the responsive site wins out over the adaptive sites. One by one, Stream Companies is hoping to bring more and more sites over to the winning side of the design war, and we’ll continue to bring more information from the front!

David Regn is the cofounder of Stream Companies. For more information, visit

David Regn


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