Mobile First Design is a growing trend among the web design industry. As the digital landscape gets increasingly complex, we need to design for user experiences across a wide spectrum of digital devices.
Traditionally, a web designer would approach the desktop side of a project first, fulfilling all the sites needs before any mobile considerations. But the philosophy of mobile first design, developed by Luke Wroblewski in 2011, completely flips this workflow around.
Why Mobile First Design?
Pew Research Center reported that as of January of 2017 one in ten American adults are smart phone reliant for internet usage. This proves that users are leaving their landline internet services and adopting our mobile phones for primary internet access.
Future Proof. Mobile first allows you to ensure your website is prepared for the explosive growth of mobile users. It also allows you to avoid the need for an immediate website redesign.
Guarantee Good User Experience. Designing for mobile first forces us to focus on user experience to ensure the website still conveys the message intended on the smaller screens.
Cleaner & Clearer Design. A mobile first design is in minimalist style, offering only the essentials.
Speed Optimization. By starting your design with the bare minimum content, you ensure your website loads at optimal speeds. This avoids unnecessary lag on the smart phone devices that typically have lower processing speeds and limited data plans.
Incorporates innovative touch technology. Mobile first design allows web designers to take advantage of new technology like geolocation, touch events, and other extended capabilities to create rich context-aware websites.
What is the difference between Mobile First Design and Responsive Web Design?
Responsive design is adapting a website’s layout for different screen resolutions using fluid grids that respond with a device’s screen size. Different elements of the page are able to change when viewing them on a smaller screen. The text will shrink and photo sizes will reduce, or not even exist, on a mobile platform.
One of the differences between mobile first design and responsive web design is that all the information for the full site is still accessible by the mobile version, and it can take longer to load. Some other difference of Mobile First Vs Responsive Web Design are below.
|Mobile First Design||Responsive Web Design|
|Rendering Experience||A mobile site is essentially a copy of your website, where the server does the work to deliver an optimized page that’s smaller and easier to navigate.
The solution can really customize a unique experience for mobile users.
|In responsive design, the device does the work and automatically adjusts according to a device’s screen size (large or small) and orientation (landscape or portrait). It switches between these options on-the-fly.|
|Domain Protection||With a mobile site, you must create a different domain (many companies choose to differentiate theirs by “m.domain.com”).||Responsive design lets you keep your own domain—nothing changes except code on the back-end.|
|Link Equity||Because a mobile site uses a separate domain, links shared from mobile browsers will not count as search link equity toward your primary site.||Since responsive design simply embeds new code on the back-end of your website, your company’s link equity is preserved.|
Designing for mobile first not only prepares your website for the explosive growth that is already happening in the mobile space, but as a designer and developer, it forces you to focus on the user.
While I’ve been saying “mobile” first, do note that the principles are not limited to mobile devices. It’s all about better usability, better use of screen real estate and better use of page elements and code – things we should always keep at the forefront, but which often get buried under fuss of design desires and client demands.
And as a firm believer in less is more, I love mobile first.
Need a web designer for your Mobile First Design? Lets discuss your project!