Mobile-First Design: What It Is and How to Implement It

Widespread usage of mobile devices to access the web has led to new development methods like mobile-first design which encourages mobile-friendly web design.

This article describes mobile-first design in detail. It will also help users incorporate the mobile-first methodology for developing device-friendly apps and websites.

Let’s begin with a fundamental question.

What is Mobile-First Design?

As the term suggests, mobile-first design is an approach in which web designers start product design for mobile devices first. This can be done by sketching or prototyping the web-app’s design for the smallest screen first and gradually working up to larger screen sizes.

Designing and developing for small screens compels designers to remove anything that isn’t necessary for seamless website rendering and navigation.

Why is Mobile-First Design Critical?

Mobile devices have become an integral part of the present web landscape and will continue to be vital for the future as well.

One must bear in mind that the number of mobile users has surpassed desktop users back in 2016. Overall mobile users continue to grow with a leading market share of almost 56% as compared to desktop users.

To add a few more statistics

  1. Smartphone users tend to spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones.
  2. Millennials spend more than 5 hours on their smartphones per day.
  3. There are 9000+ distinct mobile devices. Want to run a quick compatibility test across real devices? Try now.

How to Implement Mobile-First Design approach in Product Design

Now let’s understand how designers can put the mobile-first approach into practice by considering the following scenario:

Let’s assume a web designer needs to work on a website for a restaurant. Since the designer needs to follow the mobile-first approach, they must think about what a user will expect from a restaurant website on a mobile device.

Designers must identify the primary things that an end-user is looking for while accessing a restaurant website on a mobile device. Given the user is on mobile, it would be safe to assume that they are mainly searching for — operating hours, exact location, contact details (or click to call button given it’s mobile). On the basis of these assumptions, the page can be designed precisely as follows.

Image source

In the case of Tablets, users have more space and probably more time to explore the website. Designers can leverage this by adding more functionalities or information regarding the food menu (images), or chef details.

When it comes to desktops, web designers have all the required space to showcase more details. These details can include blog posts, images of party events recently hosted, the ambiance, or contact forms. This will help promote and advertise the restaurant better.

Following the approach above will help designers build websites keeping the mobile audience in mind. Additionally, expanding functionalities for larger screen sizes will also be easy to accomplish for teams.

The most effective way of ensuring that a website delivers optimal user experiences across devices is by testing them on real devices. This helps designers verify whether the website renders as expected across mobiles, tablets, and desktops. To do so one can also prefer a real device cloud that allows testing websites in real user conditions

As a tech geek, I love writing articles about everything related to web development or software testing space.