Go on, you know you’ve thought it. What’s the difference between adaptive design and responsive design, read about it, gotten confused, read some more.
For those at the bleeding-edge of design, it’s a challenge. For the people who have to convince the bean counters why it’s worth the expense (topic for another day), it’s downright painful.
So I propose we rename it. To eliminate all confusion.
adaptive design is now adaptive thinking.
responsive design is now responsive layouts.
And just so there is no confusion, here’s the lexicon -
adaptive thinking = the exercise of thinking about how users will want/need to engage with the experience (design, content, technology).
responsive layouts = fluid layouts that adjust to screen resolutions, load appropriately sized images, accommodate relevant copy.
progressive enhancement = an approach to how a digital property is built, to allow it to have a minimum, viable, usable feature-set, and then increasingly progressing as the property is rendered to take full advantage of the users consumption device.
design = the exercise or activity that applies adaptive thinking to generate experiences that meet the needs of users (aka user centered design). It’s outputs may include responsive layouts among other things.
mobile = an example of a device that may generate use cases, for which an adaptive thinker will solve.
There. No more confusion. Now go forth and create for the user.