August 5th, 2021
As it suggests, mobile-first design is the process of creating websites and/or applications for handheld devices first, before designing them for desktop. Handheld devices include cell phones, tablets and smartwatches. The reasoning behind this philosophy is that it will consistently create an overall better experience for users across all devices.
In general, there are two reasons why prioritising mobile devices is vital when it comes to digital design. The first, is that mobile technology has now become the most popular tool with which to browse the internet. As of July 2021, it is estimated that phones have a 55.89% market share globally globally, meaning that more people use their mobile devices to consume online content than desktop. Furthermore, it is predicted that 72.6% of the world will access the internet solely through smartphones by 2025 will access the internet solely through smartphones by 2025. As such, it is virtually guaranteed that any potential customer interaction with a brand will occur through mobile devices, meaning it is necessary to prioritise the design and user experience of a website or application on those devices first in order to be competitive and relevant.
The second reason is that mobile devices have more limitations. For example, cell phones have a considerably smaller screen size, meaning very little content can be displayed on the screen at any given time, compared to the larger desktops. Combine this with other factors, such as phones having less processing power, a vertical layout, and touch screens. Phones are overall simpler, more restrictive, and fundamentally different from computers; what works well on desktops might not work well on mobile. As such, it is better to solidify the design and elements for a website or application on mobile-first to ensure the most important features are included and work successfully. Then, as you expand the design to larger screen sizes, you can be more creative and liberal with the design, introducing new components and, knowing that the necessary features are already established and work well. Overall, it just makes sense to start small, and grow outwards, rather than trying to cram elements and features optimized for desktop onto mobile devices.
If you are just starting to design your website or application, or realise you need to update you existing one to be mobile friendly, one of the best ways to achieve a seamless user experience across all platforms is through seeking the help of a UX/UI designer.
A UX/UI designer is responsible for two distinct, but related, roles in design work. UX stands for “user experience,” and that part of the job is focused on figuring out the best and easiest ways for users to navigate websites to accomplish their goals as well as the features they need to achieve said goals. UI stands for “user interface,” and that aspect of the role looks at creating a good visual experience by designing the layout and graphics of a website so that it is easy for people to use. A UX/UI designer is the best choice to achieve a result that looks good and works well on mobile devices.
Studies have found that for every $1 spent on UX/UI design you will earn a return of $100 in revenue, you will earn a return of $100 in revenue, making it a good investment to hire someone with UX/UI experience, or train current employees in these skills. If this is not feasible, and you have an existing website, you should consider hiring someone to perform a UX audit. During a UX audit, a professional will go through your website or application, and identify all areas that can be improved to create a better user experience and create a list of recommendations of how to do so. However, once they have provided their recommendations, it will be up to you to implement the changes.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you are designing/redesigning your website on your own, there are many resources online, from books to articles to videos, that can give you some tips when it comes to mobile-first design. Below is a short list of some good practices that can help you get started.
In the age where mobile technology is the most popular way to consume content online, it is a fatal mistake for companies to neglect the mobile experience of their website or application. As such, it is important to prioritise the user experience of mobile users to create growth and success for a business, and a mobile-first approach to design is a valuable way to accomplish this. By doing so, it will not only make your life easier, but greatly enhance the experience and satisfaction of your users.
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