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Mobile-First Web Design: What is it and Why it Matters

For a long time mobile websites were an afterthought to the website design process. The rise of mobile users grew and this caused a turn for website designers which caused mobile first web design to take priority. Today, 61% of mobile users are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile friendly website.

What is Mobile-First Design?

Mobile-first web design is website design that starts out by sketching a website made for smartphone screens and then scaling it up to larger desktops and laptop screens. This design method prioritizes the most important aspects and content of a website, then adapts the layout to larger screens. This process creates an equal and beneficial experience for users on all devices.

Mobile-First Design VS. Responsive Website Design

Many use “Mobile-First” and “Responsive Design” interchangeably, but they are actually complete opposites. Responsive Website Design (RWD) automatically adjusts to screens of any device. This means RWD prioritizes bigger and larger desktops, then scales down to mobile phone and tablet screens, which is the opposite of what Mobile-First Design does. RWD was prominent in the past because at the time most users were searching from laptops and desktops. As the digital world grew, so did the need for mobile-first websites. The Mobile-First design is similar to designing a mobile app and then adjusting its layout to fit a desktop screen which allows developers the chance to retain many of the great traits that apps contain.

5 Mobile-First Design Principles to Follow

  1. Keep the Design Simple: Mobile-first web design is all about simplicity because smartphone device holders use their fingers to navigate, which are not as precise as a mouse or touchpad on a laptop or desktop device. You should consider what website elements are really necessary and which features and functionalities could be omitted from the mobile-first website to ensure optimal ease of use.

  2. Use Bold and Functional Call to Action Buttons: Poorly designed CTA buttons could cause you to lose leads and sales due to the usability issues such as forms that are impossible to fill out on a mobile website. You want your CTA’s to be bold, easy to navigate once clicked, and at the top so mobile users don’t have to scroll to see it.

  3. Use Mobile-Friendly Graphic Design: Graphic design is an important consideration for a mobile-first approach, because mobile users are more likely to leave a website if they find distractions or poor design. You want to focus on bold shapes, clean lines, contrasting color schemes and high quality pictures to enhance the experience for mobile users.

  4. Make Contact Information a Priority: Mobile users are looking for quick information and are not prone to browsing the website for longer periods of time, like desktop and laptop users are. You need to make sure the company’s contact information is prominent at the top of your web page. You don’t want your website users to have to scroll for your contact information because it can cause them to get distracted or bored.

  5. Speed Up Your Mobile-First Website: When using mobile devices, users are more likely to get distracted and leave if the speed is not up to standards. In fact, 40% of users will leave if a website takes longer than three seconds to load. A mobile website’s performance is key to keeping visitors engaged and loading speeds should be quick — to help retain visitors and also because they are a Google ranking factor.

Mobile-First Development is so important in today’s society. Everyone is on the go and on their phones which means your website needs to prioritize that user role. For many organizations, utilizing this technique creates a better user experience because it is formatted precisely for small screen viewing, focuses on core content, provides easier navigation, boosts reach and visibility and is cost effective.

Check out these phenomenal brands that prioritize Mobile-First Web Design:


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