For digital designers, what does mobile-first design imply?

18 August 2021

Cell phones keep us linked now more than ever.

Our mobile gadgets have provided us the capacity to stay in contact with friends and family, our work, critical services, news stories, and recreation in uncertain times. It’s no secret that mobile-first design is essential. In today’s world, emphasis is given on mobile-first websites, also known as dynamic websites because of their adaptability across screen sizes, for both customers and firms.

Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly are quickly becoming obsolete.

For digital designers, what does mobile-first design imply?

What is mobile-first design?

When creating an app or website, mobile-first design states that you should start drawing and designing the smallest display first and work your way up to bigger displays. It all boils down to providing the appropriate user experience on the right device. 

This makes perfect sense since, because small displays have so little real estate, UX designers must focus on the most critical parts of their site and applications, primarily data.

For a long time, mobile websites were a last-minute addition to the design process. It’s a nice touch, but it’s not required. Over the last five years, the steady decline of the PC, along with the growth of mobile phones, has demonstrated that mobile-first design is the way to go. 

Benefits of the mobile-first design

 When compared to the average desktop conversion rate of customers, mobile conversions are up 64 percent. As a result, developing for mobile-first can help your company make more money. Because Google places premium importance on mobile-friendliness, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind when undertaking a project.

This method of designing is also advantageous in terms of download times and allowing consumers to get your material as fast as feasible. The website will load faster if there are fewer elements. When you consider that a one-second delay might result in a 7% drop in conversions, it makes sense to develop for mobile-first.

Continuous improvement is when you build from the smallest screen to the largest screen. It’s all about creating a firm foundation.

Mobile-Friendly vs Mobile-First

The terms “mobile-friendly” and “mobile-first” are used interchangeably.

The phrase “mobile-first” is undoubtedly familiar to you. Many mobile-first websites, on the other hand, are genuinely “mobile-friendly.” These two words have similar-sounding names, yet they have distinct meanings.

Mobile-Friendly: Designed for large displays, then scaled down.

When a website is described as “mobile-friendly,” it is designed mainly for desktop users. It works nicely on a small (mobile) screen, such as an Apple device or a Samsung Galaxy, with a little tweaking. The design components and containers begin largely and gradually decrease in size, with the majority of the elements being positioned from horizontal to vertical (beginning to end) according to CSS breakpoints.

The mobile-friendly method allows a website to be seen on iOS and Android devices.

Here are a few examples of how mobile-first and accessible designs intersect:

  • It’s suitable for small screens. Mobile-first design forces you to make your digital goods easier to read on smaller displays, making them more accessible to those with vision impairments. And if your ideas benefit those with low vision, they will benefit everyone. “A rising tide elevates all ships,” as the saying goes.
  • Information is organized in a hierarchy. Mobile-first implies content first, as we’ll discuss later. That is, place your most critical content assets (those that your consumers desire) on your website as quickly as feasible. This also improves the accessibility of your work.

Some design principles should be followed while designing for mobile devices.

It’s critical to remember the following design concepts while developing for mobile-first:

1.) Consumers are at the core of design: your design must assist users in swiftly and efficiently solving an issue or completing a job. Keep in mind that your design must be comfortable for them while you create your user flows. As you establish a user’s problems, consider the probable interactions between them and your app. Examine your competitors’ mobile websites to see what mobile-friendly choices they don’t provide and incorporate those into your design.

2.) Visual content hierarchy: Your material should be brief and to the point. It’s critical to concentrate on giving the consumer exactly what they want while avoiding unnecessary fluff. The visual hierarchy of your material should explain the order of significance to the viewer and make it clear which components are most significant and which are subsidiary.

Put your titles at the top of the page, with a content sample above the fold. This allows visitors to quickly comprehend and view the material. The readability of your page is also improved by breaking up lengthy text into several, smaller chunks.

3.) Maintain a straightforward approach: A basic mobile design is an excellent approach to increase information clarity while also allowing users to focus on the most important material. As a result, only include items on your mobile website that you truly require to prevent distracting the visitor.

  • Reducing the number of links in your main navigation is one way to keep it clean (as information layout and design become extremely necessary).
  • Using the fewest number of pages feasible.
  • At most, there should be two columns of text.
  • Make sure your font isn’t too tiny for smartphones.
  • To make the design less crowded and more readable, use white space.

4.) Vivid, bold, and consistent CTAs: Having a vibrant, bright, and consistent CTA makes it easier for users to find them. Failure to do so may result in the loss of important leads and a reduction in clicks. As a result, make sure your CTAs are eye-catching and difficult to overlook.

5.) Take into account the speed with which your site loads: When consumers have a bad experience with a website, 69% of consumers are less inclined to buy from that webpage again. As a result, the performance of your mobile site, especially the splash screen, is critical. It should not require more than 3 seconds to fully load, as people will abandon the site if it takes longer. This is why removing all superfluous components from mobile-first elements works.

Designing for mobile-first

Let’s get started with the mobile-first development process now that you know the concepts to bear in mind when creating.

1.) Take a look at your material and make a list of what you have: To begin, get organized by making a worksheet with all of the design components you want to incorporate. Is this a reservation page? Is there a page dedicated to privacy? Do you have a company history?

2.) Prioritize content hierarchy: This is where the visual structure of content comes into play. Now that you have your content inventory list, prioritize the pieces and decide how to prominently showcase the most important ones. Make sure CTAs and other touchpoints are bigger on mobile than they are on desktop. On mobile, bigger touch targets are required since fingers are considerably broader than a mouse cursor. Touch targets should be at least 40 pixels square.

3.) First, the smallest breakpoints: Create a mobile design framework, then utilize it as a foundation for bigger breakpoints.

4.) Hovering should be removed: On mobile, there is currently no hover control, so don’t rely on this sort of interaction with the user.

5.) Minimize big images: When viewed on a mobile device, large visuals, such as landscape pictures, do not appear properly. There isn’t enough screen real estate to do huge visuals justice, and as a result, the consumer experience suffers.

6.) On an actual device, do the following tests: It’s advisable to take a break from the desktop and test your product on a real mobile phone. As you go through the sites, you’ll see if it’s simple to use and loads quickly while still being easy to understand for the consumer. This will provide insight into your design’s usefulness. You may also do user testing in order to obtain detailed feedback from users.

Instagram’s Mobile-First Strategy

Instagram, which began as a smartphone app for applying filters to photographs and sharing them with friends, has grown into a billion-dollar company and one of the most popular social media platforms today. Instagram tries to expand the edge with features and capabilities that alter the user experience, with over 400 million users. But keep in mind that Instagram was (and continues to be) designed first and primarily as a mobile app.

In 2010, founding members Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger debuted Instagram as a free smartphone app with a few filters and the option to submit your square photo into what most of us thought was a virtual void. 

Eight years later, you can now post full-size pictures, videos, as well as modify them using a variety of filters, geolocation data, hashtags, emojis, and other features. On  top to these updates, Instagram has created an app that encourages community, cooperation, and sharing with features such as the explore tool, saving, geolocation searches, and direct messages.

But how did they get there in the first place?

Instagram only had six engineers when Facebook bought the app, which had 30 million users at the time. They lived by the motto “Do the simplest thing first” and had a clear aim of perfecting the mobile app. Each design was created to elicit a response.

The basic mindset has stayed the same, even though the user interface and functionalities have developed over time – a concentration on simplicity.

Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to mobile-first design, the most essential thing to keep in mind is that you’re designing for your user—and only your user.

You should consider leaving it on the chopping block if it doesn’t add value to their experience.


In today’s digital age, we all know that mobile reigns supreme. Mobile traffic is on the rise, and it isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. Making your site adaptable is insufficient to retain mobile customers on your website since they want a simple and enjoyable browsing and purchasing experience.

Begin creating a mobile-first website to provide the greatest possible experience for your users; both Google and your potential clients will appreciate and reward you for it.

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