Mobile first or desktop first?
Mobile first means that both the design and development process starts from the mobile version of the website or application, and then is scaled up to the desktop. This approach has become more popular as more and more users access websites through smartphones and tablets, while desktop-first was more popular in the early days of the internet. Nowadays most people use smartphones not desktop computers or laptops to browse the internet.
There are several important reasons why mobile first design is better than desktop first:
- user behaviour,
- faster page loading,
- responsive design,
With the increasing usage of smartphones, more and more people are browsing the web on their mobile devices, so mobile first design guarantees that the user experience is optimized for the most of users.
Mobile devices have significantly smaller screens, which makes users need to scroll or zoom in/out more frequently to access page content. Smartphones are also often used in different contexts than desktop computers. Usually users use smartphones while on the move, or in situations where they have limited time or attention. This allows them to view content quickly or perform quick actions. On the other hand, desktop users are frequently in a more focused and static situation, which makes engagement with page content deeper.
Mobile devices typically use a vertical screen orientation and scrolling pattern, with users swiping up and down to access content. Smartphones and tablets often use touch screens for input, which can affect user behavior. Users may be more likely to use gestures like swiping or pinching to interact with content, and more and more often to use voice commands. Desktop users typically use a mouse and/or keyboard for input, which can lead to more precise clicking and typing.
Faster page loading
Mobile devices have significantly less processor power than desktops, which means that mobile first design should focus on optimizing the website or application for speed and performance. Mobile-first design can and should help speed up page load time.
Mobile-first design prioritizes:
- smaller file sizes and formats for images, videos, and other media,
- simplicity and minimalism,
- the most important content and features on a page.
All those things can help reduce page loading time, amount of content and features on a page, size of code, data and resources needed to load a page. By focusing on the needs of smartphone users, designers and developers could create fast, responsive, and engaging websites that work well on any device.
Responsive design enables websites to adapt to different screen sizes and device types. In the other words, it ensures that a website looks and works well on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, as well as other devices e.g. smart TV’s or fridges.
Those objectives are achieved by using flexible layouts and dynamic styling, which adjust the website’s appearance and behavior to the user’s device. This includes fonts, images sizes, navigation, menus, and many more. Responsive design also provides media queries, which give the possibility to detect the user’s screen size to adjust layout and content appropriately.
The benefits of responsive design include:
- easy access and usage of the website on any device, without having to zoom in/out to view content,
- boosting mobile traffic to a website,
- reduce development costs,
- better search engine optimization (SEO) – responsive design is recommended by google as the best approach for mobile optimization.
Responsive design is an essential aspect of modern web design, enabling websites to provide a seamless and consistent user experience across a range of devices.
Designing for mobile first can also improve accessibility, not only for people with disabilities, but for all mobile devices users and/or people who have no access to desktop computers. It could be achieved by:
- choosing easy to read fonts,
- ensuring that content has enough contrast,
- writing consistent and easy to understand content.
Mobile first design is nowadays the best solution for most projects, and it gives them better user experience, lightweight and speed, responsiveness and accessibility. Nevertheless, the choice of design approach should be based on the requirements and preferences of the project and target audience.