Historically, most web designers and their clients have approached the desktop side of any project first, while leaving the mobile part as a secondary goal that gets accomplished later. Even with the rise of responsive design, many of us begin with the “full size” site and work our way down.
One downside to doing this is that priority is essentially given to desktop/laptop users. Unfortunately, many design elements and functionality that are optimized for desktop computers and laptops do not transfer well to the mobile version of the design.
The growing importance of mobile designs has contributed to many designers following a “Mobile-First” strategy with their designs.
In this article, We would like to talk about why it is now so important to do this.
What is mobile first design?
Mobile first design is a design strategy that says when you create a website or app, you should start sketching and prototyping the smallest screen first and work your way up to larger screens. Essentially, it’s about delivering the right user experience to the right device.
The reason that this makes sense is because with such limited real estate on small screens, UX designers must prioritize the most important aspects of their website and apps, namely content.
For many years, mobile websites were an afterthought to the design process. An addition not a necessity. The slow decline of desktop coupled with the rise of mobile phones over the last 5 years has shown that mobile first design has to take priority.
Mobile-Friendly vs Mobile-First Design
We’ve got used to the terms responsive and mobile-friendly design. Isn’t this just the same as mobile-first web pages? Although the two terms sound somewhat similar, they bear different meanings.
Responsive design is built around the concept of media queries that target specific devices and viewport sizes. With this in mind, you can code up your initial CSS given a mobile perspective and then use media queries to selectively serve up additional styling as the viewport size increases.
This is likely the opposite of the method that you typically take with responsive design: start big and then reduce. Given the arguments above though, there’s obviously a lot of logic behind structuring your media queries from small to large.
Mobile-first web design is an independent technical approach to building websites. Instead of building a site for the screens of larger devices primarily, the technique suggests that you put a smaller smartphone screen in the heart of your web development strategy. This allows you to focus on the essentials mainly, bringing the primary focus on the design elements and pieces of content that bear the major importance for your brand and your audience.
When a user accesses mobile-first web pages, additional layers of content are added further. This makes your site well thought-out and content-centric.
Why “Mobile First” Principle Is So Important
Mobile conversions rates are up 64% when compared with the average desktop conversion rates. So designing mobile first can lead to more profit for your business. And since Google ranks for mobile-friendliness, it makes sense to bear this in mind when starting a new project.
This way of designing is also beneficial when it comes to download times and users accessing your content as quickly as possible. With fewer elements, the page will load faster. When you consider a 1 second delay causing a 7% loss in conversions – it pays to design mobile first.
When you design from the smallest screen to the largest screen, this is known as progressive enhancement. It’s about designing with a strong foundation and adding enhancements as you go.
With mobile first, you create your strong foundation. This foundation will help strengthen other designs for tablet and desktop. The foundation should always be content and mobile first design emphasizes content over navigation – users get the information they need quicker.
This will also make your life easier since mobile first design starts off with the tackling the hardest screen size to design for. The rest inevitably falls into place.
Mobile first design forces you to really focus and maintain clarity by removing any unnecessary user interface decoration. By removing any distractions, you’ll invariably improve the user experience and that makes good business sense.
How to create mobile first design
One of the best and quickest ways to build mobile-first pages is to use a responsive website creator that allows you to build unique designs code-free. The popularity of drag-and-drop page builders grows at the fast rate. There is no need to spend time at the learning curve in order to be able to create versatile web pages without tweaking the code.
Moreover, you can use ready-made web themes that include all essentials that are needed for a quick start of your web project. All you need to do is to select a web theme that suits your topic, adjust it with the help of the drag-and-drop admin panel, upload the pages with your content, and bring it online.
Neglecting mobile design in this day and age is a UX design sin. Delivering a pleasurable user experience should be at the heart of what we do. Using this mobile first approach will not only make your life easier as a designer but it’ll make the life of the user easier too. And isn’t that why we do this?