Get seen on small screens: Why mobile-first design is a business priority

Mike Fay 10th January 2020 Customer Experience

Driven by the growing popularity of mobile devices, mobile-first design is a strategy that starts with the smallest screen first (mobile). This ensures that the user experience (UX) of a website is right across all devices.

Before the mobile revolution, websites were designed for desktop first. A ‘mobile-friendly’ version was then tagged on, with varying degrees of success. This is no longer enough. Today’s shift in online users’ behaviour requires a reciprocal shift in the approach to digital design. At Velo, we believe businesses must recognise this and ensure their marketing assets are mobile optimised as a priority.

What is mobile-first?

With the majority of internet activity moving to mobile devices – phones, tablets, and various IoT interfaces – the practice of designing online content for a desktop experience first is dying out. Rather than aiming for a great desktop user experience and ensuring the design then degrades gracefully to a mobile device, our priority has now switched to giving an excellent experience on the smaller screen. This is then scaled up to the desktop version, with further enhancements where relevant.

We believe that designing the main user experience around mobile’s limitations and touch-based interaction will always give a better result on small devices than having to optimise a design that’s already been created for larger desktop screens and mouse-clicks.

Why use it?

Globally, the breakdown of internet usage is about 53% mobile, 44% desktop, and 3% tablet (Statcounter, 2019). Mobile dominance is only set to grow as internet speeds increase and access prices drop.

To give you an idea of search-specific internet usage, research shows that the majority of online searches are completed on mobile, and many mobile users do not use a desktop at all. This means that there’s a large chance some of your customers are only seeing your content on a mobile device.

While for the time being desktop is still very relevant, key interactions will become standard for users on mobile, such as:

  • Checking/comparing product or service prices
  • Communicating via email, text, and social media
  • Consuming static and video content

Investing in mobile-first design today will ensure that your business is ready for the mobile-crazed world of tomorrow.

How to do it

The key to creating good mobile-first design is to consider what’s important to a mobile user. Typically, they’re on the go (walking, travelling, mid-conversation, etc.) so want easily digestible information, fast.

This means that good mobile-first design is simple and focused. It strips down a page to its absolute basics, ensuring that the journey is intuitive, and the message is clear. One way that you can achieve this is by pairing direct, streamlined copy with calls-to-action so that a user can get a basic understanding at the top level and choose to go deeper if they want to know more.

Once the mobile design is created, scaling it up to desktop should be relatively straight forward. And when you start with the smallest screen first, content enhancements that allow for a more immersive desktop experience won’t affect the strong mobile journey you’ve created.

Conclusion

 According to Think With Google, if a website isn’t mobile-friendly 50% of users will use it less, even if they like the business. So, if you want to stay ahead of your competition, mobile-first design should be a priority for any online content creation.

To learn more about Velo’s UX design capabilities, or how we could help you develop/create mobile-first content, please contact us.

Mike Fay

Mike Fay

Senior Digital Designer