A Step-by-Step Guide to Mobile-First Design

Sep 29, 2022

A Step-by-Step Guide to Mobile-First Design

As of now, more than half of the world's internet users (and it’s about 3 billion people) use only a smartphone to access the internet. They don't need a laptop or a desktop computer; they just need a mobile device that fits in their pockets.

This explains why mobile traffic accounts for roughly half of all internet traffic, and why so many businesses have prioritized mobile optimization for websites and web-based software platforms over the last decade. 

Let’s learn more about mobile-first design and how to make it liveable for users of your business. 

What is ‘Mobile First Design’? 

Mobile-first design, as the name implies, is an approach in which web designers begin product design for mobile devices first. This can be accomplished by first sketching or prototyping the web app's design for the smallest screen size and then gradually progressing to larger screen sizes.

Previously, websites were frequently designed with the assumption that they would be primarily accessed from desktop computers. Eventually, developers attempted to modify these websites by removing some functions in order to improve browsing on mobile or tablet devices.

This method of scaling down websites is commonly referred to as Graceful Degradation or the Desktop-First approach.

One disadvantage of this approach is that many web elements do not adapt well to smaller screen sizes. As a result, the visual appearance of websites on smaller devices suffers.

To address this issue, developers devised another strategy known as Progressive Advancement or Mobile-First Design.

A mobile-first approach encouraged website designers to start with the smallest devices and then add more features for larger screen sizes.

Why is Mobile-First Design so Crucial?

It is critical to consider a mobile-first approach when designing your web pages. The world is constantly generating new innovative technology, which is becoming more handheld and mobile in order to cater to today's fast-paced movement.

57% of internet users say they will not recommend a company with a poorly designed mobile website

  • Google's Algorithm Prefers Mobile-Optimized Websites 

Google engineers are well aware of the rise in mobile traffic, and their search engines have been designed to prioritize mobile-optimized websites.

  • Mobile-first Design Enhances Desktop Design 

Designers can always add more bells and whistles to their desktop app as they progress to larger screens, but starting with small screens allows them to focus on what's truly important. 

  • Mobile-first focuses on the essentials

A mobile-first approach to design is a new way of thinking about design. When web designers design for the small screen, they consider a basic, streamlined User Experience (UX). This approach results in more functional websites that prioritize content, as well as superior software that is easy to use. 

The Difference Between Responsive and Mobile-First Web Design

The main distinction between RWD and mobile-first design is how the developer approaches your website. 

A mobile-first design approach encompasses all aspects of web design, from planning to how the design interacts with desktop and other versions of the website. This enables the developer to make proactive changes to the overall design to ensure that all platforms perform consistently and provide the best customer experience possible.

However, responsive web design is a more reactive approach to web design. This means that when fitting on other dimensions, developers and web managers tend to change the design in a more fluid and flexible manner

If a local business has a mobile-friendly website, 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to reach out to them

Smartphone Usage Statistics mentions a few statistics that should cause you to reconsider your mobile-first approach: 

  • People spend 3 hours and 15 minutes per day on their phones.
  • Americans spend approximately 5.4 hours per day on their phones.
  • Millennials spend 5.7 hours per day on their phones, while boomers spend 5 hours.
  • On average, people check their phones 58 times per day, with more than half of those times occurring during working hours.
  • 70% of mobile sessions are less than 2 minutes long.

Top 6 Mobile-First Design Best Practices

Every website is unique and necessitates its own design approach. Having said that, mobile-first development teams have identified many best practices while developing mobile app solutions over the last decade.

If you follow these mobile first best practices, you'll be well on your way to developing a high-converting, mobile-first software product.

1. Page Content Should Be Prioritized

Designers must remember that content is king when it comes to mobile-first design. Because space is limited on smaller screens, web designers must prioritize displaying the most important elements, as these are the ones that users will actively seek.

2. Make Certain Intuitive Navigation

Nothing ruins a platform more than a confusing and disorganized navigation system. By providing intuitive navigation, you can provide a neat and clean user experience on mobile devices. Using features like navigation drawers or an interactive sitemap can help your users navigate your website more easily and effectively.

3. Avoid Disturbing Pop-Ups

Mobile devices, as previously stated, have limited screen space, and no user enjoys being bombarded with pop-ups or advertisements that take up the entire screen. Website owners or designers must only focus on what is important to users and provide them with the information they seek.

4. Calls-to-Action that are Bold and Consistent (CTAs)

Make your CTAs stand out. After all, your ultimate goal is to convert. Your CTA is the most important element on the page, whether it's getting your visitors to buy a product, book a demo, download a lead magnet, or do something else.

5. Before going live, always perform beta testing

Testing your application or website before it goes live is one of the most important aspects of developing an online platform.This is also one of the most effective methods for ensuring that your website provides optimal user experiences across devices.

6. Make sure that all of the page elements are visible and consistent.

When designing for small screens, you have very little space to work with, so the most important elements should stand out. Consider this: Can visitors find what they're looking for quickly? Incorporating prominent, consistent page elements will reduce confusion and inspire action.

Mobile First Design Tutorial 

Step 1. Sort Through Your Content

Create a spreadsheet for each page that clearly identifies each piece of content you want to include, as well as its purpose (e.g., hero text, section headers, supporting text, links, buttons).

Step 2. Create a Visual Content Hierarchy

Now that you've considered everything you might want to include, it's time to prioritize the most important elements. Put the most important things at the top and remove anything that appears to be a distraction.

Step 3. Create Mobile Wireframes for the Smallest Devices.

Mobile first design includes a "responsive" component (as we mentioned earlier). After all, the screen size of smartphones varies greatly. Again, it's not "responsive design" in the traditional sense. 

Step 4. Run Tests on Actual Devices

You can experiment with software that simulates different smartphone layouts all you want, but testing with real devices is where the rubber meets the road. Things that don't quite work (or don't work at all) on real mobile devices can be tweaked until they do.


In conclusion, an increasing number of web users are shifting from desktop to mobile devices to access the web, and this trend shows no signs of abating. As a result, it makes sense for designers to create websites with the mobile audience in mind. Incorporating a mobile-first design will not only assist businesses in reaping the benefits of mobile growth today, but will also prepare them for the explosive growth predicted in the coming years.

 And, Innovation Feel team is always here to help you develop and implement all needed features from the wished design of your product - just give us a call or fill the form. 

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