Adaptive and responsive designs are nothing but two varied approaches of design for diverse devices. Responsive design makes use of a single layout and then adjusts navigation, content and overall elements to fit within a user's screen. It is more fluid and it adapts as per different screen sizes like desktop, mobile, tablet and more. Conversely, adaptive design is more fixed and it makes use of varied sizes of a fixed design.
Nowadays, most of the websites have a responsive design. When you are making use of responsive design, you will have to keep all the screens that a user could use in mind. If you make a layout without doing so then there are chances of certain elements, content fitting poorly within them.
In the case of adaptive design, designers would have more control as it first detects the device of the user and then adapts the template that is used to fit within its screen. As a designer, you would spend more time on adaptive design as it is more tailorable.
Before you decide on either of these design approaches, make sure to thoroughly know your audience. Once you have studied them and the devices they use, you would find it easier to design and choose the right approach.
To Sum it Up:
Apart from these factors, make considerations for gestures, navigation and hierarchy when you are creating cross-platform designs and finalising adaptive or responsive design.
Users love consistent and holistic digital experiences. Align all your user insights, content strategy and overall navigation and you shall be able to clearly decide the most optimum design approach.