Mobile-first design is exactly as it sounds: sketching, prototyping and designing for a mobile first experience and then scaling up to larger screens from there. Mobile-first ensures that you deliver the right User Experience (UX) to the right screen.
With such limited space available on a mobile phone screen designing for that makes far more sense for the UX. Designers must prioritize the elements of the website that are most important to create a strong base to work from.
Mobile-first web design has been somewhat of a replacement for strategies such as responsive or adaptive design. Both these design strategies focus on the desktop, or the largest screen, first and then the design is just altered slightly to fit a smaller screen, leaving the smaller screen a bit of an afterthought for designers.
Then why should I use it?
Mobile-first is a little bit different. It uses the concept of responsive web design and takes it to the next level. Instead of focusing on designing a mobile version of the primary site, mobile-first design focuses on building a site that puts the needs of mobile users first. In other words, mobile-first design builds a platform that meets the mobile user’s basic needs and requirements before worrying about laptop and desktop users.
One of the biggest advantages of going mobile first is that your website is compatible with all different types of platforms. The site that you see on the mobile device should be quite similar to the one that will appear on desktop computers as well. With that said, sometimes it can be hard to visualize how exactly a site will look on the desktop when you’re working on a mobile-first design, so give both platforms a test and make any necessary adjustments.
And what are its benefits?
In web design progressive enhancement refers to starting with a strong base of designing and building up to a larger design for desktop. By using the mobile-first design strategy the design of a website starts with only the most important elements providing a strong base to build on. It is far easier in web design to upsize functionality and software than it is to try and downsize what is there already.
After Eric Schmidt’s announcement at the Mobile World Congress in 2010, 8 years later Google followed up on the warning announcing that they now use mobile first indexing for over half of all web pages globally. Mobile-first indexing means that Google will look at the mobile version of a website in order to rank it before the desktop version. By using the mobile-first design strategy web designers can greatly increase the chances of a website ranking higher on Google.
Focus on Core Content:
The content that is displayed on a user’s screen has to be clear, concise and easy to understand. When done correctly, the mobile-first approach positively affects the tablet and desktop versions of your site, resulting in a more clean and polished look.
While designing for mobiles, web developers usually add few items on the menu. The user has a better chance of navigating and getting to the intended destination. Drop-downs have been removed from many sites, and rightfully so.