What Is Mobile First Web Design and How Do You Do It Right

Today, over half of global internet traffic originates from smartphones or similar mobile devices. In some markets like the Philippines, mobile devices are often the only internet-capable devices that lower-income families have immediate access to. Moreover, in e-commerce, mobile phones often represent anywhere from half of online traffic to an overwhelming majority of it, depending on the product and market segment.

Given that context, the importance of designing online properties for mobile users seems fairly obvious. However, there are a few things that keep mobile-first web design (sometimes erroneously called responsive design) from being universally applied across the web.

Why Aren’t All Websites Mobile-Friendly?

Multiple factors contribute to the persistence of non-mobile-friendly websites in today’s overwhelmingly mobile age. Some of these include:

  • Technical Challenges. Converting a highly customized legacy website into a mobile-friendly version can pose a variety of technical challenges. In some cases, website owners may hesitate to make changes if they are not sure that they can implement the needed changes without “breaking” their site. It’s best to hire web design services Philippines e-commerce businesses trust to overcome key technical challenges.
  • Legacy Systems and Designs. The internet predates smartphones and there are surprisingly a lot of websites from the early days of the worldwide web that still soldier on. This is possibly because revamping their code and technology platforms is more trouble than it’s worth for the owners.
  • Resource Constraints. Developing a mobile-friendly version or implementing mobile-responsive design can be an investment that not all website owners are prepared to make.
  • Lack of Awareness. Some website owners may not fully grasp the importance of mobile-friendliness or may not be aware of the potential impact on user experience and search engine rankings. As a result, they may completely fail to factor in mobile-friendliness during the site development phase.
  • Complacency. Websites that have been successful without being mobile-friendly may be less motivated to invest in mobile optimization. This is often the case when large institutions face a lack of serious online competition.
  • Preconceptions About Audience. Lastly, some website owners may believe that their target audience predominantly uses desktop devices and therefore see little need for mobile optimization.

What’s the Right Approach to Building a Mobile-First Web Design?

As its name implies, mobile-first web design prioritizes mobile devices. Instead of a website being created for big screens and then converted later, mobile-first websites start development with the mobile version and then get adapted for desktops and laptops afterwards.

Because of the extreme diversity of technologies and user behaviors, there isn’t a single “correct” approach to mobile-first design. However, all attempts at mobile-first web design need to account for the intended users’ viewpoints. With that in mind, you can start implementing common best practices with full regard for your site users’ needs:

1. Provide Familiar Placements and Functions

Today’s mobile users generally expect websites to automatically resize for their screen and follow similar single-column layouts that facilitate easy one-handed scrolling. Deviating too far from this tried and tested combination can often lead to confusion and high bounce rates for mobile users.

2. Visualize the End Product with Wireframes

Just because mobile audiences expect websites to look and behave a certain way, it doesn’t mean that there’s no space left for forging unique designs and layouts. The key to differentiating your mobile site without rendering it unusable is to build site wireframe mockups. These mockups should give you clear ideas of how different site elements mesh and scale with each other, depending on the device. The other key benefit of this approach is that you and your designers and developers will be much better aligned with regard to your vision for your mobile site.

3. Make Important Things Stand Out 

When developing mobile websites, it helps to know which specific elements need to stand out and which things need to be further in the background. Work with your web designers and content creators so that your content and visual elements effectively guide your site’s mobile users.

4. Implement Responsive Web Elements

As mentioned, mobile web users expect that websites will always present them with text and visual elements that are just the right size for their devices. When applicable, implement responsive design techniques such as flexible grids so that your site can dynamically adjust its layout and content presentation based on the device.

5. Speed is King

Mobile internet connectivity remains uneven throughout much of the world, often resulting in a poor experience when users attempt to load a resource-intensive site. Eliminating code bloat, compressing images, and performing other techniques that enhance load times can go a long way in offering a superior browsing experience for mobile users.

6. Perform Iterative Testing

Before launching your mobile site, try to run as many tests as you can on a variety of devices, including tablets and smart TVs. At this stage, you want to ensure that your web elements consistently drive users towards a specific action, regardless of the type of device they’re using. After launch, conduct periodic testing to see if mobile user behaviors are still aligning with your expectations.

Mobile-First Web Design Continues to Evolve — And So Should You

Adopting a mobile-first approach to web design involves much more than simply implementing mobile responsive designs. It requires both the active use of empathy and the correct interpretation of site data to deliver a seamless browsing experience regardless of the device employed.

As mobile technologies and user preferences continue to evolve, staying on top of the mobile web will demand the continued application of empathy, hard data, and common sense. Even if you don’t have the expertise you need on hand, focusing on those fundamental principles should help you pivot and connect with new generations of mobile web users.

Author: 99 Tech Post

99Techpost is a leading digital transformation and marketing blog where we share insightful contents about Technology, Blogging, WordPress, Digital transformation and Digital marketing. If you are ready digitize your business then we can help you to grow your business online. You can also follow us on facebook & twitter.

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