Mobile-first website design has become a bit of a buzzword in the design space recently. When we consider whether a website is good or bad, one of the first things we look at is whether it is designed with mobile in mind. But what does this really mean? Today, we’re talking about how to determine whether your website prioritizes optimization for mobile screens, and why not doing so is no longer an option.
What is Mobile-First Design?
In a world where the vast majority of us have a smartphone, a tiny computer at our beck and call, it seems both obvious and, well, not obvious at all why a website should be designed from the start with mobile usership in mind. We have the ability to pull up any website on Safari or Google Chrome simply by typing in the website’s URL. But just because we can view a website does not make it *designed* for view and use via phone.
Mobile-first design is much like all website design. When it works, it just works, and we don’t always notice how and why it works. But when it isn’t working, we almost immediately take note.
Consider some of the tell-tale signs that a website is designed for mobile rather than simply functioning (mostly) on mobile. When you use the page navigation on a website when you’re on a mobile device, is it easy to use or does it need scrolling? Is the page fit-to-size so you only need to scroll vertically to view everything, or is there overflow that extends beyond the width of the screen? Is content quick to load and easy to view, or is it rife with too much content that, while surely stunning on a desktop, crowds critical words and buttons on mobile?
These are all elements we consider from the get-go when we build mobile-first websites. By its definition, ‘mobile first’ is to curate the layout, navigation, and content of a website before jumping into visually designing the desktop version of a site. We do this because mobile devices offer significantly less real estate than the larger displays of desktops, laptops, and even tablets. With minimal space to leave an impact, it’s vital to focus first on the most important information you need to convey, then build the wow factor around it.
This isn’t to say that your website can’t be visually compelling and exciting. We think you should have the best of both worlds! But by starting with a site that checks all the boxes needed for mobile optimization, you can create a website that is mindful of user experience across all screens, which is sure to yield the best results for you and your site.
Why such an emphasis on mobile?
It’s time to face it: we’re not living in the same world we used to live in. Data shows that more than half of all website traffic is coming from mobile devices across all industries.
The latest global statistics indicate that a little over half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices/smartphones. Additionally, just from 2021 to 2022 alone, mobile user share has increased by over 10%. Clearly mobile use is trending up, and the gap is widening between mobile and desktop usage. When we design a website with user experience in mind, we have to consider where our users are seeing our site – and that means focusing on mobile in this new age of internet use.
How do I know if my site is optimized for mobile?
The best way to know whether your site looks and functions seamlessly on mobile is to explore it on mobile! Beyond quickly checking that things are running smoothly, or to grab a resource off of it from time to time, how much time are you really spending on your own website? Spend some time clicking through each page, interacting with buttons and prompts the way you hope your site visitors do, and consider the experience you have while using your mobile site. Are there areas where you need to zoom in to be able to read text or see an image? Are there video animations that look great on your desktop view but are slowing down your mobile loading time? Is the mobile view feeling overly crowded? If so, it may be time to look into adjusting your site to accommodate the majority of your website visitors.
Want to be able to quickly and easily check that any page on your website is optimized for mobile use without having to pull out your phone, pull your site up, and navigate to that page?
From your desktop view, you can right-click on any page on your site, scroll down and select “Inspect”. This will allow you to toggle back and forth between desktop view and mobile view, and you can even opt to view your site from different kinds of phones’ mobile view.
The stats don’t lie. More people than ever are using mobile devices to navigate the web. It’s time to make sure your website is ready for it.
We’re here to help.
Not sure how to get started optimizing your website for mobile? Give us a shout! We’re pros at this kind of thing. Our team would be happy to audit your site and give our expert opinion.
Where to go from here