Mobile-first design is a term first coined back in 2010 by then Google CEO Eric Schmidt who used it to explain Google’s new focus on mobile-friendly product developments. The term is now used to describe any website or app whose design is first developed for mobile devices and then adapted to larger screens afterwards.
All mobile-first sites and apps will work well enough on desktop computers, but obviously, there will be features and design quirks that work better on mobile devices as that is how they were originally designed to be experienced.
Why Choose a Mobile-First Design Approach?
Deciding on a mobile-first approach requires knowing that most of your users will be accessing the site from their mobiles. This is an interesting part of the brainstorming phase of web development, as websites have been incorporating mobile-friendly elements for years now as their popularity for using the internet has increased.
However, that popularity has since increased to such an extent that many websites are likely to be accessed by a significant majority only via their handheld devices. Thus, designing a mobile-first website in such a case can make sense.
There are other options for websites beyond designing solely for a mobile-first, so let’s look at those before diving deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of mobile-first design.
Responsive and Adaptive Design
The responsive design model entails designing the site, so it rearranges itself according to the device it is being accessed from. This usually means certain content blocks that are visible from a desktop computer will be hidden on a mobile or tablet, so the most relevant content is more easily viewable on the smaller screen.
Adaptive design involves creating an entirely separate version of the website that has been specifically optimized for smaller devices. The site a user is directed to will depend on what device they are using.
Advantages of Mobile-First Design
If your site is accessed by more mobile users than desktop users, then you will clearly be appealing to the majority with a mobile-first design.
Mobile-first design also helps you prioritize content. You have less space to work with, so you are forced to get rid of the unnecessary extras which can slow down the site’s performance. The simplicity of the mobile-first website also means there will be a lot fewer bugs.
Another major advantage is that your site will be much more responsive which makes for a better UX, including intuitive navigation and faster load times which improves your SEO.
Disadvantages of Mobile-First Design
Prioritizing content has its upside, but the downside is a reduction in creativity due to the lack of space. Websites designed for desktops will always have the creative advantage here, simply because they have more space to work with.
The mobile-first design model also requires you to take a different approach to how you design, develop and interact with your website. This means it can take time to experiment with the new approach to find out exactly what works and what doesn’t.
If you would like to know more about mobile-first design, please call our team on +1 800 974 7219 ext. 202 or by completing our online form here.