Our previous blog post looked at some essential tips for mobile-first design and development, and how this could be achieved on your website. Here, we will explain why this should be achieved.
In today’s mobile-dominated world, where attention spans are fleeting, mobile first design has emerged as a pivotal strategy for web design and development. This approach places content at the forefront and revolutionises user experiences across devices.
Mobile-first as a concept has been around for a number of years. Back in 2010, then-CEO of Google, Eric Schimdt announced that mobile-first would be how the company designed moving forward. This trend is set to continue with three quarters of users forecast to only use smartphones in the future. Mobile-first design and development will only grow in importance, and a website that does not convert well to mobile will be bypassed for one that does. Mobile-first is a transformative approach that delivers results, both for user experience and in search rankings. It is well-known that mobile responsive websites rank higher on Google. The website is easier to discover and those that are focused on mobile will perform best across devices, leading to better rankings.
Mobile-first websites don’t just rank better, they are also more accessible. By ensuring font is readable on smaller screens (by sticking to the recommended minimum text size of 16px), most users with limited vision will still be able to read your content. A visual hierarchy will place only the essential content on the screen with the most important first, making it easier to process.
Read on to learn about several concepts related to mobile-first design: progressive advancement vs graceful degradation, content as the focus, visual hierarchy and touch-friendly interfaces.
1. Progressive advancement vs graceful degradation
These are two concepts that are well-known when it comes to mobile-first or responsive design discussions. In both instances, the aim is to create a website that functions across all screen sizes, however the process differs.
This is the forward-thinking approach, where you begin by designing for the smallest screen first. More content and functionality is added (think animations, user interactions) as the screen size increases.
This places an emphasis on content and visual hierarchy of the page (two concepts to be looked at later). Designing and developing for the hardest screen size first means that the website will have a solid core that can be enhanced, rather than risk modifying or removing something that later turns out to be key.
Graceful degradation is a more traditional approach. Design begins with the largest screen size, creating a feature-rich environment. The functionality is then gracefully scaled back for lesser performing browsers and devices. It can be harder to scale back these functions as necessary elements of your site can become entwined with more superfluous parts that are good additions, but not strictly needed.
2. Content focus
When it comes to mobile-first design, one of its core principles is focusing on content and using only what’s necessary. This approach ensures that your users get the most relevant and impactful information without any distractions. By trimming the excess and presenting a clean, streamlined experience, you will create a website that engages users from the moment they land on your page.
Think about it: mobile screens are smaller, and attention spans are shorter. Every word, image and element counts. By actively curating your content, you can cut through the noise and deliver a powerful message directly to your audience. Don’t expect users to sift through a cluttered interface or wade through excessive information. Instead, make sure you’re offering a seamless and efficient browsing experience that keeps them engaged and satisfied.
Mobile-first design and development places a priority on content that is necessary and delivers the most value. This approach not only improves user experience but also optimises your website’s performance. By reducing unnecessary elements, you minimise load times and enhance the overall speed, ensuring users can access your content swiftly, regardless of their device or network conditions.
3. Visual hierarchy
Establishing a hierarchy on mobile screens where real estate is limited is vital. Visual hierarchy guides users’ attention, helping them navigate and comprehend your content effortlessly. By strategically arranging elements based on their importance, you can create a cohesive and engaging user experience that keeps visitors immersed and focused.
On smaller screens, users tend to scan rather than read every word. A well-defined visual hierarchy directs their attention, ensuring they grasp the most important information quickly. By employing visual cues such as size, colour, typography and positioning, you can effectively guide users’ eyes through the content in a logical and meaningful manner. This not only improves the users’ experience of the website, but allows them to interact with it in the way you want.
In the mobile-first design landscape where touchscreens dominate, incorporating intuitive touch navigation is essential to provide a seamless user experience. With more and more users accessing websites on smartphones and tablets, optimising your design for touch interactions is a key consideration for engaging your audience effectively.
When designing for touch navigation, focus on size and simplicity. Embrace larger buttons and interactive elements that are easy to tap with a finger, ensuring users can navigate effortlessly without the need for precise mouse clicks. Apple recommends a minimum area of 44px x 44px for interactive touch targets. By following this rule of thumb, you will reduce user frustration and make the experience of the website more enjoyable.
Mobile-first design and development has emerged as the driving force behind successful digital experiences in today’s mobile-centric world. By prioritising content, embracing touch navigation and establishing a clear visual hierarchy, you can create websites that engage, captivate and convert users like never before.
Take a look at your own website and assess whether it has been designed and developed for a mobile screen. At Flux, we are always happy to chat to you about how your website can be elevated for mobile use. It’s time to embrace mobile-first design to give your users the best experience!