Mobile first is the top trend in web design today. Rather than designing for the biggest screen, you focus on the smallest screen first. This ensures that visitors have simplicity, quick load times and a positive experience.
With a mobile first website, simplicity is the key. When a designer takes a mobile first approach to creating a website, his top priority is making the site translate well on mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets, with computers being secondary. Some people call it progressive enhancement. The site is designed for smaller screens first and may add more features as the screen gets bigger. However, some companies don’t take the progressive approach and simply use the same site for mobile use that they use for larger screens. Rather than having a text-heavy site with features that could take awhile to load on a phone, sites that take this mobile first approach focus on simplicity and ease of use.
Why Use Mobile First: The Benefits
Mobile first is becoming an increasingly accepted focus for website design. In early 2014, even PayPal redesigned its website with a mobile first paradigm in mind. How does this look? The home page is no longer text heavy. It now features a slick, silent video that revolves with each refresh of the page. The center of the video features a single phrase that advertises one of PayPal’s features. Below it is a button for getting started.
Simple. Attractive. Quick. These are the features that surround a compelling mobile first design. And they are features that can get return visitors. When you have limited screen space, you’re forced to prioritize and streamline your message. This prevents visitors from being overwhelmed and not understanding your company’s main message.
The current trend for websites is mobile first because it provides a significant advantage to the end user: your website visitor. People like to visit sites while they’re on the move, whether it’s during a brief break between meetings or while they’re traveling or even waiting for friends to meet them at a store. If a user comes to your website and finds he can’t use it on his phone, you might have just lost a valuable sale. He may not think to come back to your site later when he’s in front of a computer. You don’t want to make your website inconvenient to your visitors. That’s why a mobile first approach is so important.
Mobile First Disadvantages
No trend or web design focus is without its disadvantages, of course, and mobile first is no exception. For example, if the product your selling works only on desktops and laptops and simply has no mobile functionality, then taking a mobile first approach would not be beneficial to your company. And many people still view mobile sites as secondary to regular websites, so they may not be impressed if your full website is identical to your mobile site.
Identifying Mobile First Sites
So how can you tell if a site was created using a mobile first paradigm? There’s no surefire way to tell. But if a website works great on your mobile phone and you don’t see any extraneous graphics that don’t fit well on the screen, it’s likely been designed specifically for mobile devices.
If you’re visiting the site on your computer, a few things might clue you in as to whether the site’s been built with mobile first in mind. Is it a streamlined site with just a few key graphics or one large visual element? Does it go sparingly with text and not include an abundance of extraneous widgets and apps? Does the website have a quick load time? These all are clues that the designer took a mobile first approach.
Mobile first is the current trend for web designers and companies who are on top of their game. Don’t design for the largest screen; design for the smallest one. Simplicity and quick response time are high priorities to today’s web surfing audience. A mobile first paradigm can help your company stay modern and on top of the latest trends.