Best Option: Mobile First Web Design

| July 26, 2016

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The idea of mobile first web design is not necessarily new or cutting edge, but it is still one of the best ways to ensure users are happy with your site.  With more and more people transitioning to using mobile devices as their primary tool for accessing the internet, it is essential you focus on providing the best experience possible for mobile users.  It is no longer an option or a “good idea,” it is a necessity.

What Exactly Is Mobile First Design?

Designing your site with a mobile first strategy means it is your first focus.  Instead of designing a site the old-fashioned way and then adjusting it to suit mobile, you are thinking of mobile users first and foremost.  Essentially, you are no longer taking the original, full desktop version of your site and removing features and content to make it bare minimum for mobile users.  This “graceful degradation” results in a site that does not translate all that well and might appear as just a watered-down version of the original.  It might even be obvious you stripped something down to give the mobile user “good enough.”

The opposite of this is progressive enhancement.  This allows you to design a leaner, mobile-specific version of your site and then scale it up for desktop users.  You give mobile users a great site from the start, but those with larger screens might have access to what would be considered bonus features.

What are the Benefits of Mobile First Design?

Mobile first design provides a number of benefits, including the ability to differentiate between the essential components of a website from the things that are nice but not necessary.  Once you have identified these essentials, you will also be able to highlight them on the desktop version of your site.

Mobile first is also favored by search engines, so much so Google actually ranks sites higher when they make mobile users a major priority.  Mobile first design actually increases the value of your site.

Does Mobile First Design Feature Any Drawbacks?

It is not all rosy, of course, and there are a few downsides to mobile first design.  Some designers feel it does not take advantage of what desktops offer, and even though you are trying to offer a great experience, there’s no getting around it is still a stripped down version of a site.  It is also tough for experienced designers to make the transition to focusing first on mobile.

The bottom line? Mobile first design is not ideal for everyone, but you need to let your audience decide for you.  If you know your target clients are accessing your site through mobile more than desktops, your designed should be tailored to reflect that.

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