Responsive versus adaptive content in eLearning

Everything we produce at Gomo is both responsive and adaptive to provide the best user experience possible whilst maintaining the quality of the content. This means that we can build content once and publish it once across multiple devices including desktop, tablets, and smartphones.

Both responsive and adaptive content provides visitors with an optimal user experience, but they do this in different ways. So, what’s the difference?

Responsive design

Responsive content is fluid and flexible - it seeks to create an optimized experience for any screen by responding to the size of the browser.

For devices like a desktop PC or tablet, content can be created to appear in a two, three, or four-column layout. However, when the same content is viewed on a smartphone, the device does not have enough space available to show three columns, so the responsive content automatically responds and is displayed in the most effective way possible.

The term itself originates from web design and was coined by Ethan Marcotte in 2010 in his 'A List Apart' article, "Responsive Web Design" and later in his book, Responsive Web Design.

Adaptive design

Adaptive content is less fluid, and adjusts by adapting to the width of the browser at specific points. It will wait until the browser has reached a certain width, at which point it selects the most appropriate layout for the screen.

The nature of adaptive content means that there is much more control over the design, as it can be individually designed for a set of specific screen widths.

The phrase again originates from web design and was coined by Aaron Gustafson, who wrote the book “Adaptive Web Design.”


Although they work in different ways - with responsive relying on flexible and fluid grids and adaptive relying on predefined screen sizes - both enable learning to be viewed on mobile devices and desktops, across all screen sizes, ultimately providing visitors with a seamless learning experience. That's something very important to us here at Gomo learning.

See it in action

Want to try Gomo for yourself? You can sign up quickly and easily for a free 21-day Gomo trial using the link below. Gomo doesn’t require any software downloads – it works from your web browser. Just log in and start creating your content from anywhere with an internet connection.

About the author: Emily Manning

I manage the marketing efforts for Gomo Learning, working with the wider marketing team at Learning Technologies Group, Gomo's parent company, to make sure Gomo is always putting its best foot forward.

I've been with Learning Technologies Group plc since 2016, and made the exciting move into Gomo's team in 2019! It's been great to be part of such a friendly team that love what they do, and who really care about ensuring that the product and our service is the best it can be for our customers.

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