What Is Mobile First Design?

Sometimes it may seem like technology advances faster than we can catch up. This presents a serious wrench in your marketing plan if your design isn't compatible with currently popular devices. This is where mobile first design steps in and fills in the gaps.

So Just What Is Mobile First Design?

Mobile first design is the marketing brainchild of Luke Wroblewski that was coined in 2009. It was a revolutionary idea for its time seeing as smart phone trends were just beginning to take off. At its basis it is a relatively simple concept of consumer-focused web-design: begin your designing process by working with the smallest screens people will use to find you (for example, smart phones) and work your way up to designing for bigger screens (tablets and desktop access.) This process of customizing your website to move from smaller screens to bigger screens is called progressive enhancement and can go a long way towards inviting visitors to return to your site on a different device. Consumers can do anything from their smart phone that they can on their desktop. Mobile first design is a simplistic concept to master but it is most often overlooked by businesses and designers.

Why is Mobile First Design Important?

There is a very good possibility that you may be reading this very post from your mobile smart phone or tablet. If you were to try and think of anyone you knew who didn't have a smart phone or tablet you may find it difficult. Just about everyone has a smart phone that is always with them that they use to access the Web and discover new sites and products. There are billions of mobile web users across the globe. Mobile internet usage now exceeds that of desktop usage making it vital that a successful design caters to mobile access. To put it bluntly, that's a lot of potential audience that could be missing out on your message simply because your web page design isn't mobile friendly. Yikes! Mobile design really should be your first design priority if you want to take the prime advantage.

Stepping Ahead into the Future of Web Design

For the time of its conception mobile first design is an idea that anticipated how Internet access would change as mobile usage became more available. It may be a social faux pas to check your email while out to lunch on your phone but that's just how much things have changed in the past few years. Now that you know where the majority of web users are and how to reach them why not take the time to implement a mobile first design approach to your website? As screens get smaller and smart phone technology becomes more affordable and prevalent you need to take your design into the future as well. What are the pros and cons of designing with the mobile first approach? How can you implement mobile first design to increase traffic to your own site? Let's take a look!

Pros of Mobile First Design

Being able to reach your audience through the medium they access the Web with most seems like a pretty good pro to mobile first design. You can tailor your website to meet the user's needs and the constraints of mobile devices. It's obvious that the smaller screen size requires some formatting adjustments to get your point across but there is also the issue of connectivity. Most mobile devices may access the Internet through slower speed networks. Keeping this in mind you can steer away from elements of web design that would cause images to load slowly so that viewers don't get frustrated trying to load your content. You cut away the unnecessary fat of your design without trying to shove a desktop design into a screen only a few inches across. Users can find what they're looking for quickly without having to scroll endlessly.

Cons of Mobile First Design

Like all things there is bound to be a drawback to mobile first design. The theory is sound and works towards reaching consumers but from a design standpoint it can be complicated to master if you're used to working on desktop design first. This is perhaps why mobile first design tends to get left out of the marketing game. Another issue designers may grapple with is all the constraints that come along with designing pages for smaller devices. You just don't have as much paper to draw on. Thinking about mobile connection speeds can also trip up design as certain elements that may require a large amount of data to load will cause performance issues in the field. Your website may look great to you but if your audience can't load it then you've already lost them.

How Can You Get Started with Mobile First Design?

Approaching a design project from a new perspective can be daunting but if you're brave enough to give mobile first a shot start by checking out websites on your phone. Having a smaller canvas to design with will give you ideas to look for and exploring the works of others who have braved this new approach is a great way to put yourself in your potential viewer's shoes. Take note of particular elements you like and ones that don't work for you. If you use a website design platform such as Weebly or WordPress you'll find that they have preview options that can show you what exactly your pared-down site looks like to visitors in their various devices. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you some perspective of what it's like to access your site with a smaller device so you can meet them halfway with their mobile computing needs.

Don't let your audience miss out on what you have to offer just because you designed your site for desktop access. Mobile first gives you an opportunity to think like a consumer while you design the best mobile website for your business. Start small and work your way up the ladder.

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