mobile first approach in web development

Have you ever heard of the mobile-first approach? If you haven’t, you have come to the right place. The mobile-first approach means that you need to create designs for smaller screens and work your way up to bigger screens – from mobile phone to tablet to desktop and to larger screens. It is almost the same as responsive design, you need to know where to place all the elements.

Once you design for a smaller screen, it will be a lot easier to design for a bigger screen. Before that, you need to know that different screen sizes have different resolutions:

  • Mobile: 480px
  • Tablet: 778px
  • Desktop: 1024px
  • Larger screen: above 1024px

Why Mobile-First Approach?

When designing for a mobile-first approach, content comes first. You need to prioritize the most important element that you want to display. Think of it as designing an app. If your site is good on a mobile device, it translates better on all other devices.

Mobile-first approach aids user experience. You want your user to have a better experience when browsing through your website. You would not want your users to browse and leave halfway. When that happens frequently, it is time to change the way you design your website. Follow these simple steps below to start with your mobile first approach.

7 Steps of Mobile-First Approach

  1. Content is King: The best design focuses on delivering what’s essential. The content (that is meaningful to your users) is the most important part of telling your story.
  2. Prioritize Hierarchy: Prioritize the elements in your content and determine how to display the most important elements prominently.
  3. Design with the smallest breakpoints and then scale up: Build your wireframe according to the mobile screen first, then use that as the model for larger screens.
  4. Enlarge the touch targets: Think about the fingers which are much wider than pixel-precise mouse cursors, and use larger elements on which the user can tap.
  5. Don’t depend on Hovers: Designers often rely on hover and mouseover effects in their interactive work. If you’re thinking of mobile-friendly design, don’t depend on Hovers as there are hover controls for fingertips yet.
  6. Avoid Large Graphics: Landscape photos and complex graphics don’t display well when your screen is only a few inches across. Always use images and graphics that are readable on handheld screens.
  7. Test on a Real Device: Load up your product on a real phone and ask yourself all the important questions. Is the site easy to navigate? Does it load in a timely fashion? Are the text and graphics easy to read?

Example of ‘Prioritizing Hierarchy’:

Mobile

web design mobile layout

1 column

Tablet

web design tablet layout

2 column

Desktop

web design desktop layout

4 column

We encourage you to change the way you design websites. It is not as tough as it seems, especially when you think of it as designing an app. When your mobile-first approach looks good, it will look good in all other screen sizes. Feature all your important elements at the top and the less important ones below. You want your users to have a better experience in browsing through your website.

For more information and guidelines, you can visit Studio by UXpin to learn more. For more examples of mobile-first approach, take a look at some of our solutions done for our clients.