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mobile-first design

Mobile-First Design: Importance, Strategy & Implementation

Taru M. Taru M.
Published: 01 Apr, 2022

Gone are those days when the web design services process initiated with designing from the desktop monitors first and then adopted as per the different screen sizes. So, now the demand is not for elegant UI designs that are mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive, but your website design needs to be mobile-first!


Mobile-first design means starting the process of designing from the smallest screen, i.e. mobile and then expanding the features for more giant screens like tablets and desktops. First, it is done by creating a website layout per the mobile screen and then adapted for larger screens and other devices.

Why “Mobile First” Is Important In Product Design?

  • Globally, 68.1% of the total website visits in 2020 were done from mobile devices, whereas desktops gave only 28.9% of the website visits, and 3.1% of visitors came from tablets.
  • People spend more time on the internet via a mobile handset.
  • Worldwide smartphone sales grew 6% in 2021, according to Gartner.
  • 60 per cent of searches happen via mobile devices as per the statistics
  • Statistics suggest that by 2025 there will be 7.49 billion mobile device users worldwide. It’s enough to influence mobile-first design thought.

The numbers mentioned above only indicate that many people use mobiles to look for content and research products/services, proving the growing need for mobile-first websites.

The rise of mobile usage urges web designers to follow the “mobile-first” rule while designing a product.

What Makes Mobile-First the need of the current era?

why mobile first is important

Why is mobile-first design essential, and why is everyone talking about it? A mobile-first design strategy aims to create the best user experience for maximum people visiting websites through their smartphones.

Technically, when your website looks good on a mobile device, it will perform better on all other devices.

Moreover, the king of web search – Google, also announced changing its algorithm in 2015 to prioritize mobile responsive websites in search results. Google has started working on mobile-first indexing – which is Google’s web crawling using a smartphone Googlebot.

Since September 2020, Google has switched to mobile-first indexing for all its websites. As per their official website, Google has mentioned it may occasionally crawl on traditional desktop Googlebot, but most crawling for Search will happen with Google’s mobile smartphone user-agent.

Listed are the reasons why mobile-first design is essential –

1. Better User Experience: Mobile-first approach means creating more focused and explicit content that showcases the website according to the user’s perspective. The content and presentation must flow smoothly on the small screen size. So make sure you research and fix these things before.

2. Improved Performance: The number of elements impact speed and performance. Your web page should have fewer elements for usability and good SEO rankings. Optimized content – images and text will improve website performance. The Google engine crawls through the index’s pages with a mobile-first approach; that’s why a mobile-first web design is critical.

3. High Conversion Rate: Following a mobile-first design strategy, businesses can increase their conversion rate with a difference. Since mobile phone internet users are growing every day, the authenticity of the mobile website is also building up, aggregating the conversions.

4. Scalable: Scaling from small to big screens is always better. Adjusting the mobile concepts according to the desktops and other gadgets is convenient; only the experience should be great.

Keep adding or deleting the features as per the usage, but the core remains the same.

5. Decreased Bounce Rate: Since mobile users are primarily on the go, they want a quick search. Still, adopting a mobile-first design keeps bounce rates low, whereas mobile-friendly websites will retain your visitors and provide a good user experience.

Mobile-First Design vs Responsive Design

responsive design v/s mobile first design

Mobile-first design is designing a mobile application, and then adapting the design layout to view it clearly on tablet and desktop devices without any modifications.

The Mobile-first design provides –

  • Excellent mobile UX (user experience),
  • Fast download,
  • Rich media content to hook your target audience,
  • And easy touchscreen navigation.

Whereas the Responsive design starts with the desktop with maximum resolution, gradually scaling down to the smaller screen sizes. The content and design layout are made to fit the smartphones, but the navigation, content flow and download speed work as per the traditional website.

In a nutshell, the responsive web design adjusts as per different gadgets’ screens.

Progressive Advancement and Graceful Degradation

Before responsive web design, there were two prevalent concepts – Progressive Advancement and Graceful Degradation.

Progressive Advancement: While designing a product, the designing began with a lower browser version first, like a mobile phone, which included only the vital functions & features, advancing to the designing for big-screen versions like tablets or desktops. The latter design included adding more interactions, complicated effects for a better user experience.

Graceful Degradation: This concept started with the product design for an advanced version like a desktop with complete features initially, then degraded to lower versions like a mobile by omitting some features and content.

Mobile-first is nothing but a concept that originated from Progressive Advancement, or we can say mobile-first is the new avatar of progressive advancement.

Designing from a mobile-first with restricted screen size and including only priority features, then expanding to a tablet or PC, the designers can gradually use the unique features of these advanced ends to strengthen the product. This becomes the reason why progressive advancement strategy is mainly preferred.

Mobile-first plays an essential role in product designing as, on the one hand, it helps save product design time, and secondly, it also improves designers’ productivity.

Moreover, it helps the designers pay more attention to the product’s content. This lets them create neat and practical designs. Now, as smartphones are becoming more powerful, the mobile end is not considered the lower end, but it is the future, and the way forward, so it should be considered first!

What do you think Mobile App Development is a need or a desire for businesses?

What’s Mobile-First Design Strategy?

mobile first design strategy elements

The mobile-first approach organically leads to a more content-focused design, so it is user-focused. The heart of web design is content — that’s the main objective of website visitors.
Let us understand in detail the key considerations while designing mobile-first web design.

Critical elements of mobile-first design strategy –

1. User-specific: Understanding that mobile users are generally on the go, they are looking for fast and easy solutions; hence the mobile-first website design should be able to address the user’s pain areas.

The next thing is to determine the user flow and make it intuitive so that the user can navigate easily on the website and can quickly complete a task.

2. Content-focused: The content for a mobile-first website should be very concise and straight to the point. Alter the text as per the context and keep it short to avoid distraction. The mobile screens have limited space; hence we must present the content in a way the user can easily read.

Both text and images content should be well optimized.

  • Keep the headlines on top
  • Less wordy paragraphs
  • Short – simple sentences

3. Simple website: Use minimalistic design so that your plan has clarity and use can focus on the key takeaways. Your site should not seem cluttered. Use white space to make content readable and visible.

  • Limit the number of links in the navigation menu
  • Wide borders and clean lines
  • Keep it light with fewer pages
  • Integrate search engine feature

4. Crisp and bold CTAs: You are set for the best mobile-first web design when you club your crisp content, neat design with bold and clear Call to Action buttons. Without clear indications of what to do on your website, statistics highlight that almost 90% of your website visitors are bound to exit your portal.

Mobile-first design examples will have essential elements that make the best mobile-first design.

They are as follows –

  • Strong typography
  • Contrasting color hues
  • Easy to follow navigation buttons
  • Clear CTAs
  • Content supportive images and videos

5. Fast loading speed: Agree or not, no matter how beautifully your website is designed, you have lost it if your mobile-first web page takes more than 3 seconds to load! Guaranteed your visitors will exit without acting on your website, leave in the midway and stop visiting your website entirely.

  • Keep your site light with fewer pages on your website
  • Compress the images
  • HTTPS will keep your site safe and ensure fast loading
  • Use CDN for loading content from the cache.

Mobile-First Design: How to Implement

Let us snoop further to understand how web designers can implement a mobile-first approach.

Assuming a web designer is working on a restaurant website. While working with the mobile-first approach, the designer will need to think about the user’s expectations from a restaurant website on a mobile device.

The designer should include the primary elements that a user is looking for in the mobile website of a restaurant. A user generally seeks information like operating hours, location, and contact details. Following these assumptions, the mobile designer can design the page.

After the mobile version is ready, the designers add the content for other devices versions like menu, chef information, ambience, and more. The bigger the screen size, the user gets more time & space to explore so that big screen sizes can have more detailed versions of the website, unlike mobile. You may add more blogs and images to showcase the restaurant.

This approach helps designers build better websites for mobile audiences. And expanding functionalities for larger screen sizes also happens smoothly.

The Crux

By building a website for smartphones, and tablets, the designers can quickly achieve a seamless user experience for website visitors. The mobile-first approach seems beneficial as the small-screen breakpoints adjust better around the content.

No more squeezing a plump design into a tiny framework, but the breakpoints develop naturally around the content, so no more awkward edits. Hence, web designers have adjusted themselves to the new era where they first create mobile screens’ UI/UX design.

The best thing about going with mobile-first design is that website designers, business owners and other decision-makers will only get to pick the most critical elements to showcase to its users.

So, if you already have a website or plan to get a website, keep in mind that almost 60 per cent of your website visitors will consume the content on a mobile device.

We know all the nitty-gritty of developing a mobile-first web design as we have seen it all – web 1.0, web 2.0, web 3.0

For leading mobile app development services, get in touch with us. Please share your idea, and we will help you design it to make it profitable!

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Taru M. Author :
Taru M.

For over 18 years, Taru M. is a successful technology entrepreneur by profession and a tech enthusiast by spirit. She takes pride in offering expertise in her domain to business people's success across the globe. As a business woman and technology expert, she manages to keep her balance along with her family responsibilities. She did her masters in computers, and her work delivery shows the expertise of her education. Connect with her via Linkedin profile to know more about her exciting personality

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