What are Adaptive User Interfaces?

Adaptive user interfaces can change their appearance and/or interaction behaviour to match the requirements of an individual user, the used device and current context conditions. In contrast to adaptable user interfaces, which are modified by a deliberate and conscious choice of a user, adaptive user interfaces automatically initiate and perform changes according to the available knowledge about the user and context.

Adaptive user interfaces are widely recognized as a promising means towards accessible computer systems. They can provide high levels of personalisation without requiring the user to manage and master complex customization dialogues.

Due to their multiple appearances, the designing and developing adaptive user interfaces is still a complex endeavour and a research challenge. Some approaches rely on rules or design patterns to define how the user interface changes in case of specific context conditions. Model-driven user interface development is perceived as the most powerful – but not the easiest way – towards extensive user interface adaptations for universal access.

Additional Information


  • Gaëlle Calvary, Joëlle Coutaz, David Thevenin, Quentin Limbourg, Laurent Bouillon, and Jean Vanderdonckt. 2003. A Unifying Reference Framework for multi-target user interfaces. Interacting with Computers 15, 3 (June 2003), 289–308. DOI:
  • Ernest A. Edmonds. 1981. Adaptive man-computer interfaces. Computing skills and the user interface 122 (1981), 389–426
  • Reinhard Oppermann. 2005. From User-adaptive to Context-adaptive Information Systems. i-com 4, 3/2005 (Jan. 2005), 4–14. DOI:
  • James Lin and James A. Landay. 2008. Employing Patterns and Layers for Early-stage Design and Prototyping of Cross-device User Interfaces. In Proc. CHI '08. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1313–1322. DOI:
  • Jan Meskens, Jo Vermeulen, Kris Luyten, and Karin Coninx. 2008. Gummy for Multi-platform User Interface Designs: Shape Me, Multiply Me, Fix Me, Use Me. In Proc. AVI '08. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 233–240. DOI:
  • Matthias Peissner, Dagmar Häbe, Doris Janssen, and Thomas Sellner. 2012. MyUI: Generating Accessible User Interfaces from Multimodal Design Patterns. In Proc. EICS '12. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 81–90. DOI:
  • Pierre A. Akiki, Arosha K. Bandara, and Yijun Yu. 2014. Adaptive Model-Driven User Interface Development Systems. Comput. Surveys 47, 1 (May 2014), 1–33. DOI: