The Importance of Mobile-First Website Design

Written by
Matt Dimopoulos
March 21, 2023
min read
A phone, tablet and computer are on a ranking stand.

As technology continues to evolve, more and more people are relying solely on their mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) to access the internet. In fact, according to Statista in December 2022, 59% of all internet traffic worldwide is through mobile devices. This trend has highlighted the importance of mobile-first website design, which means that websites should be designed for mobile devices before desktop devices. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of mobile-first website design, as well as how it can benefit your website.

Better User Experience

One of the main reasons for mobile-first website design is to provide a better user experience for visitors who are accessing your website from a mobile device. You may have seen the acronym ‘UX’ before —there is an entire industry centred around UX, as User eXperience is key to great design.

There are many different tactics to mobile-first design, including:

  • Putting the navigation on the right side of the page instead of the left as 90% of people are right-handed
  • Aligning paragraphs to the left so it’s easier to read.
  •  Bigger and bolder buttons so they are easily touchable. Fingers are much wider than a mouse, so we need bigger touch targets.
  • Reduction of large graphics/photos as it is a smaller screen. Smaller images = faster load times.
  • Removal of ‘hover’ states as you cannot hover on a phone. Once you touch something, you click it. 
  • Ensure consistent design while stacking content. If you have pictures and text alternating on a desktop site, the mobile version will switch them to be stacked on top of each other. This means the designer needs to adjust the order of the content so that it is consistent and legible.

By designing your website mobile-first, your customers will get a better user experience, which can result in increased engagement, longer visit durations and a lower bounce rate.

Mobile-First = Content First

When designing for mobile first, content is key. Content-First approach is ensuring that the user is offered the content they need while hiding or moving the unnecessary parts. Additional content or design elements can sometimes distract the user from what you are trying to get them to read first.

Here’s an example of a desktop and mobile version of a website we built.

As you can see in the desktop version on the left, there is a ton of information laid out not only in the body of the website, but also the navigation.

When we look at the mobile design of this website on the right, we can see that the entire navigation is converted to a menu that you must open, and the ‘Request a Consultation’ button was moved to that menu as well. This is simply due to the amount of room available to the user, and an industry-wide expectation that more options will be available when you click the ‘hamburger’ button (a.k.a. the triple bar or triage symbol ☰ named for its unintentional resemblance to a hamburger).

You can also note that much of the information and buttons has been moved down from the main hero area to make use of the limited space available.

Improved SEO

Another reason for mobile-first website design is improved search engine optimization (SEO). In 2015, Google announced that mobile-friendly websites would be given priority in search engine rankings. Since then, Google has continued to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in its search algorithm. This means that if your website is not designed for mobile devices, it may not rank as high in search engine results pages (SERPs) as mobile-friendly websites.

As covered in our previous blog post about Page Speeds, the probability of users that will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load increases by about 32%. In addition, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% will visit a competitor's site instead.

Increased Conversions

A third reason for mobile-first website design is increased conversions. According to a report by Think With Google, 67% of mobile users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites customize information to their location. This means that taking the time to ensure that your website is not only mobile friendly but also catered to your target demographic are very important factors to consider.

Now, since not all websites are e-commerce sites, we can also look at the statistic that 74% of users are more likely to return to a mobile-friendly website in the future. This shows that you may not always convert your customers right away, but having a reliable and mobile-friendly website encourages them to visit again, therefore increasing their likelihood to convert. 

Think of your website as your business’ storefront. If people really like the atmosphere, the service and the design of the store, they will most likely come back as it was an enjoyable experience. This directly relates to your website — by designing your website mobile-first, you can provide a better experience for the device they will most likely be using and increase the likelihood of conversions.

In conclusion, mobile-first website design is crucial in today's world of mobile internet access. By designing a website mobile-first, you can provide a better user experience, improve your SEO and increase conversions. With more and more people accessing the internet through mobile devices, it's important to ensure that your website is optimized for these smaller screens. By doing so, you can stay ahead of the competition and provide your users with the best experience possible.

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