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Mobile-First Web Design: Why You Should Make It A Priority In 2021?

Reshu Rathi

Posted On: January 15, 2021

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Read time9 Min Read

This article is a part of our Content Hub. For more in-depth resources, check out our content hub on Mobile Testing Tutorial.

Mobile has changed the way the world works. It touches every aspect of life. For most people the first thing they look at when they wake up the mobile screen and the last thing that they see before going to bed is the mobile screen. So to say that it’s important for business would be an understatement. But even though it’s a well-known fact, many business owners are still designing and developing websites for desktops and then trying to make them work well on mobile. While in reality, it should be the other way round.


Because the truth is, mobile isn’t a trend anymore, rather it has become a lifestyle for our heads-down generation.

Do you know that 85% of adults expect a company’s website should be as good or better than its desktop website when viewed on a mobile device? While 57% of internet users say, they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile. And not just that Search engines like Google favor mobile-optimized websites as well.

In June 2019, mobile accounted for 50.71% of all searches, with desktop dropping down to 45.53%. So if organic discovery is a way you are bringing in your business, and you don’t want to kiss your rankings and conversions goodbye, make sure to invest your time and effort in creating mobile-first websites.

Still not sure if you need to design a mobile-first website? Consider this: according to the latest statistics by CNBC, over two billion people are accessing the internet ONLY through their mobile devices. That’s 51% of the total mobile phone users globally. And, by 2025, this number is expected to shoot up to 72.5%. That means there are right now millions of users who have ditched their Desktops/Laptops in favor of a mobile device. With so many eyeballs coming to your website from mobile devices, it’s now all the more important to ensure that your site is mobile device testing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you should ignore desktops. However you should definitely create it for the device most people view it on, and at the same time ensure that it also works on the desktops.

So, it’s time to leave the past behind as mobile traffic is growing, and this trend is here to stay.

mobile user stats

Image Source

Check LT Browser: Next-Gen Browser To Build, Test & Debug Mobile Websites

What Is Mobile-first Design?

First, I think it’s a good idea to quickly point out exactly what mobile-first design is to make sure we’re on the same page.

The mobile-first design concept first came into the limelight in 2010 when Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google at that time, announced in a conference that the company would be adopting design practices that focus more on mobile users.

He said:

“What’s really important right now is to get the mobile architecture right. Mobile will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services. The way I like to put it is, the answer should always be mobile-first.”

The reasoning behind the statement was quite simple: Small screens have limited space. So when you design for them, you choose crucial elements, the ones that your users need the most, while ignoring fluff.

As you expand your design for the bigger screen, that is, desktops or laptops, you can provide your users with advanced elements that will make the life of such a power user easier.

In other words, Mobile-first design is a web development strategy that considers the mobile user’s needs first. It creates a better experience for these users by starting the design process from small screens instead of the other way around. So instead of creating a desktop website and then forcing it to fit into a mobile phone, you start with a small screen. Also, let me assure you, it’s much easier to scale up to big sizes than scale down from big design elements to small ones ensuring that your user’s experience is seamless across devices.

In other words, the mobile-first website design aims to create a website that is not just usable on mobile devices but is optimized for mobile devices, and thus ensure that your user’s experience is seamless across devices.

How Is Mobile-First Design Different From Responsive Design?

Most people think the mobile-first design and responsive design are one and the same thing. Though they are similar, there is a big difference.

While both of these concepts aim to make your website accessible on all devices, responsive web design is the reactive approach, as mentioned above. That means that webmasters first create a website and then work on making it mobile compatible.

To go into technical details, in a responsive test web development approach, all design decisions, starting from big decisions like grid type to important stuff like font size, white spaces, forms, buttons, accordions, media elements, cards, carousels, navigation, etc., everything is first created keeping desktop in mind. Developers then work step by step in shrinking, refactoring, and rearranging this design to fit the small screen. So rather than just being reactive by designing websites that move fluidly to fit devices like in the case of responsive design, in the mobile-first approach, the development team makes all these design decisions first for mobile size, then move their way up for desktop sizes.

Four Easy Tips To Create Mobile-first Websites

Designing your website for mobile won’t be challenging and complicated as long as you keep these tips in mind.

1. Keep It Simple

Simplicity will always get better results than complexity in most things in life, and your website design is no exception. But it is even more important to keep it simple when designing for mobile as these devices have tiny screens, and users who surf on these devices are usually quite goal-oriented. They want to easily and quickly reach and view what they are looking for, and a simple and clear website design can help them in doing so.

Keep only the essential element, and never burden your mobile users with elements like pop-ups, ads, and other content they don’t want to see. Use your limited visual real estate to only include the things they’re on the website for.

2. Strategically Design And Place Your Call To Action (CTA)

When designing your website for mobile, keep in mind that your users are using their fingers, not a mouse. So ensure that your CTAs can be easily read and clicked by using larger fonts for your CTAs. Also, place your CTAs above the fold; this will ensure that they will be visible in the viewport when your website first loads.

Remember: Big buttons and clear calls to action can make your website a joy to use on mobile.

3. Pay Special Attention To Your Navigation Bar

Navigation plays a crucial role in any website’s success; it allows visitors to easily flow from one page to another. But it can hamper your website’s success, and you can lose a large number of visitors if you provide poor navigation.

No matter whether you are designing a website for desktop or mobile users, it should offer easy and convenient navigation to the users. But in the case of mobile, you need to shrink your navigation bar down to the fewest possible options and condense the secondary elements into easy-to-reach navigational buttons. Wondering how to do that? Well, the easiest method of doing this is by using a hamburger menu.

4. Make Mobile First a Part of Testing Process

We all know that testing our websites on different mobile sizes is important. But this testing is not a one-time activity; you need to keep testing and retesting your website across multiple mobile devices regularly.

Why? Because dozens of new phones keep on releasing every year, and just because your website looks well on one device doesn’t mean it will look good on others too.

Wondering how to test your website responsiveness across a wide range of screen sizes, view ports, and resolutions? Well, the easiest way to do that is to use a tool like LT Browser – with it, you can quickly check the mobile view of your website on different screen sizes and resolutions. Whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, Samsung, or even a MacBook, you get all the resolutions in the LT browser !!

You should also consider different browsers as not every visitor uses the same browsers on their mobile device. For example, those using Chrome on the iPhone might behave differently from those using Safari on iPhone.


Over to you

We all know that mobile reigns supreme in today’s digital world. Mobile traffic is continually increasing, and it is not going to plateau anytime soon. Making your website responsive is not enough to keep mobile users on your site as they want easy and delightful browsing and buying experience.

Start designing the mobile-first website to give your users the best possible experience; both Google and your site visitors will love and reward you for that.

And now I like to hear from you: do you find mobile web design easy and exciting? Have you got your own mobile-friendly tips that made your website look great on mobile? Please, share your insights and experiences in the comments below!

LT Browser Is Featured On Product Hunt. LT Browser - Next-gen browser to build, test & debug mobile websites | Product Hunt

Author’s Profile

Reshu Rathi

Reshu Rathi is an online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast. She has been in the internet marketing industry for nearly ten years, specializing in content and product marketing, lead generation and engagement strategy.

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