What is Adaptive web design?
To reference an article from interaction designs Mads Soegaard:
Adaptive Web Design was introduced in 2011 by web designer Aaron Gustafson in his book, Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences With Progressive Enhancement. It is also known as a progressive enhancement of a website.
Where responsive design relies on changing the design pattern to fit the real estate available to it, adaptive design has multiple fixed layout sizes. When the site detects the available space, it selects the layout most appropriate for the screen. So, when you open a browser on the desktop, the site chooses the best layout for that desktop screen; resizing the browser has no impact on the design.

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Choosing Between Responsive and Adaptive Design
Responsive design is easier and takes less work to implement. It affords less control over your design on each screen size, but it’s by far the preferred method for creating new sites at this moment. This may also have something to do with the large number of cheap templates available for the majority of Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, etc. — after all, who wants to reinvent the wheel?
Responsive designers create a single design to be used on all screens and will generally start in the middle of the resolution and use media queries to determine what adjustments will be made for the lower and higher end of the resolution scale. This tends to make users happy because that familiar web design seems guaranteed to translate across to any device’s screen. Uniformity and seamlessness are crucial considerations in providing a good user experience.
It’s important to keep an eye on the visual hierarchy of responsive design projects; you want to try to maintain this as your elements shuffle around the screen. That means a lot of testing with many different devices to be certain that you’re delivering the goods. If the design for a site is relatively simple, it will translate well across device screens, flowing like a liquid from the container to container.
SEO is another big argument for using a responsive design. Sites that use responsive design (i.e., ones with a URL that serve all devices) are currently more search engine friendly.
The responsive design seems to have a strong case for use.