Mobile-First Design, And Why You Need It Now

Design Blue Laser Digital on September 12, 2019

We live increasingly fast-paced lives, but thanks to our mobile devices, we’re constantly connected. We used to be tethered to our computers for the internet, our landlines for the phone and our couches for television. Now, everything is available in our pocket.

That’s why, since 2016, most internet activity has come from mobile devices, not desktops or laptops. According to research by Perficient Digital, in 2018, 58 percent of all site visits came from mobile devices.

Still, most websites are designed primarily for desktops, and secondarily for mobile devices. Many brands don’t even create a mobile-friendly site. We think that’s backward.

What is Mobile-First Design?

In 2019, mobile-first design is more important than ever. The term is fairly self-explanatory; create your mobile site first, then use that as a foundation for your desktop site. If the grand majority of your visitors come from mobile devices, the mobile experience should be priority No. 1.

So, what specifically does a site designed with mobile-first in mind mean? And, for first-time mobile-first designers, what steps should you take to create a mobile-first site?

How to Create a Mobile-First Site

If you’re redesigning your website, consider going mobile-first. More and more users exclusively use their phones for the internet, and you shouldn’t spend tons of money designing a desktop site that less than half your audience uses. Here’s how to get started with your mobile-first site:

1. Minimalize it.

Think Marie Kondo: does it spark joy not for you, but for your user? Cut out all the stuff that doesn’t get clicks and focus solely on what matters to your audience. Your desktop site may have a beautifully written history of your business that you adore, but if it’s not helpful and your audience doesn’t seem to care, it’s not worth keeping on your mobile site. Start out with the bare minimum, like the contact page and what your business does, before building it out.

2. Make it thumb-friendly and sunny day-proof.

If your mobile users have to zoom in to click on a URL that’s anchored to one small word surrounded by other hyperlinks, or there’s so much packed onto a page that visual hierarchy is nonexistent, the site is not mobile friendly. Make buttons large and thumb-friendly, focus on headers, avoid large bodies of text, make everything scrollable and use colors that are easy to see even on a sunny day. While white text on a light gray background might look elegant, it’s impossible to read, especially on a mobile device.

Don’t forget about drop-down menus and other design elements like it. A menu that expands upon mouse hover may look great on desktop, but it’s not functional for mobile users.

3. Optimize images.

Mobile users need a speedy site. Images are one of the easiest things to keep small, so there’s no excuse to tank your users’ mobile data with large, high quality images. Use lossless compression, utilize JPEG images rather than PNGs or GIFs, and make sure to use descriptive meta tags so that, even on poor internet connection, your users know what should be there.

This also means using graphics and other images that are readable on a small screen. If, for example, there’s a hugely important infographic on your site that you’d like to showcase on mobile as well, make the graphic tall, not wide. That way, users can scroll through it. If the graphic isn’t that important, ditch it.

4. Test it for yourself.

The final step is to try it out. Or, better yet, have a friend or family member who isn’t tech-savvy try it out. If they have a hard time navigating your site or finding the things they need, your audience will, too. Unfortunately, potential customers are unforgiving, and won’t hesitate to hit the back button in favor of your competition.


Let’s Go Mobile

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, you’re setting your business up for failure. As more and more internet users favor their phones, it’s important to create a site that favors that audience. Don’t pare down your desktop site to suit mobile users, especially if the majority of your audience comes from their phones. It’s time to flip the script.

Here at Blue Laser Digital, our professional designers and web developers can create an intuitive, fast and optimized site that encourages easier conversions. Your mobile website matters, so if you’re interested in creating a mobile-first site, give us a call.