As of now, just over 50% of world wide web traffic is being generated by mobile devices. And that number is expected to rise to 72% over the next few years.
In 2021, having a website that is optimized for mobile devices is a necessity.
In this article, we’ll define mobile first website design and share some tips that will come in handy when designing a website for mobile.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
What Is Mobile-First Web Design?
As the name suggests, mobile-first is a design philosophy that has a primary focus on mobile devices.
In other words, when creating a website for mobile, you start by designing it with the smallest screens in mind. Then, you gradually make your way up to larger screen sizes.
So, as opposed to a desktop-first approach, where you would have to strip down non-compatible features to make a website work on mobile devices, a mobile-first design will add more functionality as it scales to desktops.
Now if you’re thinking about what approach you should use when creating your custom website design, going mobile-first might be worth it. Let us explain why.
Why Should You Choose A Mobile-First Design?
We previously mentioned that most of the web traffic will be generated by mobile devices in the years to come. In addition to this fact, there is a long list of reasons why mobile-first design can be beneficial to your business.
Mobile-first indexing is actually the default for ranking websites. This basically means that Google will rank your website based on its mobile version.
If you’ve adopted a mobile-first design, your website is likely to rank higher in Google search engine results. Any digital marketing agency will recommend you use this approach because it will most likely gain you more conversions.
As we’ve previously mentioned, mobile web traffic is expected to rise in the future and because Google favors mobile-friendly sites, you will gain more visibility using this approach, eventually increasing your conversion rates.
And finally, mobile-first websites are typically easier to scale. As you’re making your way up from mobile to desktop, you’ve got room to add new functionalities without impacting the original ones.
However, when you’re scaling down from desktop to mobiles, you may end up having to compromise many features.
Let’s dive into some handy tips that will help you successfully create a mobile-first website.
Tips For Creating A Mobile First Website
1. Prioritize Content
Keep in mind that a mobile-first approach also means content-first. After all, this type of design is all about enhancing the user experience on mobile devices.
However, because of the lack of space available on mobile, you’ll want to include the content that’s most important to the user.
Research your target audience and determine exactly what type of content your users will resonate the most with. Plan out your topics and content types, then display the most important information using a visual hierarchy.
A visual hierarchy places the most important elements at the top of the page, so users see the most important elements right when they enter your site, then move to less relevant information as they scroll down the page.
2. Simplify Navigation
Making your website easy to navigate is a must. However, due to smaller space on mobile, you may not have room for a complex navigation bar or buttons.
One of the ways to remedy this problem is to implement a hamburger menu. This allows you to hide secondary elements behind an icon.
This menu will pop up once the user has tapped on the icon. By doing this, you will be able to free up quite a bit of space.
Most users are already familiar with the hamburger icon, so your website navigation will also remain intuitive.
Another method that can help you in make your website easy to navigate is by making use of combo navigation.
This means that some secondary elements will still be displayed on the screen, typically the most relevant ones, while the rest will be hidden behind the hamburger menu.
3. Opt For a Minimalist Design
The design of a mobile-first website needs to be as simple as possible. Having too many things going around at the same time will make the screen feel cluttered and distract users on what’s most important, which is the content itself.
And that, coupled with the lack of space available, will worsen the user experience. With that being said, keep a simple layout and display what the users want to see.
4. Avoid Using Large Images
Large images can negatively impact your site in different ways. Firstly, they just don’t look right on a screen that’s just a few inches in width.
Secondly, large images typically slow down the loading speed of a web page. In fact, according to Google, the average loading time of a mobile web page is around 22 seconds, which already seems slow enough.
However, there’s even more to it. 53% of users will abandon a website if it hasn’t loaded within the first three seconds. That’s a lot of traffic to miss out on.
So, in order to prevent that from happening, remember to avoid using unnecessarily large images.
5. Enlarge Interactive Elements
Adopting a mobile-first approach doesn’t mean that you should make every element of the website smaller to accommodate the screen size.
Keep in mind that fingers are much wider than mouse cursors. So, if you want to keep the user away from aimlessly tapping on the screen to no avail, you need to make the interactive buttons larger.
Now, for users to comfortably select and interact with a touch target, its minimum size should be 1cm x 1cm (0.4in x 0.4in).
Also, make sure that there’s plenty of space between the buttons. Otherwise, users will most likely click on anything but the button they actually wanted to interact with.
All in all, opting for a mobile first website design approach is worth it. As we’ve previously mentioned, mobile devices take a major part of world wide web traffic and it’s only expected to grow in the following years.
However, when designing a mobile-first website, focus mostly on content that is important to the users and aim for simple navigation.
Also, avoid cluttering the screen and opt for a minimalist design instead, so you can improve the user experience. Speaking of which, also enlarge interactive buttons so users can easily see them.
Frank Garnett is a digital marketing blogger and technology enthusiast. He picked his first computer at the age of five and hasn’t stopped exploring the internet and writing about it ever since.