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Oct 18

Mobile-first Design: What Is It and Should I Be Scared?

Ever find yourself working from a desktop computer and still using your smartphone as a resource? It’s good for quick searches, right? From the convenience of a desk, couch, or toilet—you name it—people use smartphones to make snap decisions every day. Businesses have caught on to this fact and question whether to start with a mobile site design first. With such limited screen space, it’s important for businesses to make their mobile site user-friendly, as mobile traffic now accounts for 52.2% of internet use worldwide. The only thing businesses should be afraid of is spooking customers with a scary mobile experience.

 

Mobile-first Design

Traditionally, web design starts with the desktop version. Mobile sites are then created using “graceful degradation,” which is the removal of features to simplify the design as less space becomes available. Conversely, some think a mobile-first design ensures the mobile experience gets the attention it needs both in style and functionality. By starting small, you can build on a concept that is already functional from the start. This is referred to as “progressive enhancement.” Taking it a step further, some businesses choose to offer a mobile experience that’s completely different from their website and keep the two separate. Going this route, however, requires additional time and money.

Is Less Always More?

There’s a lot to consider when designing a mobile site. You want the least amount of extraneous information clogging up the screen and delaying load times while keeping the essentials. With this in mind, several website templates are developed with “responsive design.” These templates allow the website to automatically adjust to several screen sizes. This helps keep your website streamlined and visually appealing when viewed from a desktop, tablet, and smartphone. There’s nothing more annoying than scrolling left to right to view portions of a web page.

Which Design Is Best?

The jury is still out on which design method is best, if any. There may come a tipping point in the future where the sheer dominance of mobile traffic dictates how businesses approach web design. As mobile apps become more accessible and easier to develop, businesses may invest in apps in addition to, or in lieu of mobile sites. In any case, the ultimate goal is to make sure mobile design is never an afterthought. The future is now and it’s mobile.

Putting It All Together…

If you have a website, make it a priority to create a user-friendly mobile experience. Visit your site on a smartphone, click through the menus and links and make sure content adjusts appropriately. To view a desktop site as a mobile site, right-click anywhere on the web page and select “Inspect.” This allows you to view the website according to the screen size of various devices. Always keep in mind that a poor design could be the difference between choosing your business or another!