Mobile-First Web Design in 2023

devices open to web design page on a desk there are blue arrows going from the smart phone to the other devices (laptop, desktop, tablet), white IGV logo in bottom left corner

Back in 2018, Google decided to enable mobile first indexing by default. Today, search engines look at mobile site content first for indexing and ranking purposes. This means that SEO is heavily affected by having a mobile-friendly site. Your website’s performance is heavily influenced by its mobile performance.  

Mobile-friendliness is no longer an embellishment. Rather a requirement for an effective business website. More than half of people that access websites do so through mobile devices. Many websites redirect users to mobile social apps. Mobile first web design considers the performance of the site’s mobile version first.  

According to Statista, there are over six billion smartphone users in the world. Which will increase by several hundred million in the coming years. In 2023, the importance of mobile-first design is predicted to skyrocket. In this article we define and discuss mobile-first design. As well, we share some tools.  

What is Mobile-First Website Design?  

Fortunately, mobile-first website design is as it reads: Designing the mobile website first. Designers focus on creating websites for smaller screens like smart phones and tablets. Then, designers adapt this content for the larger screens like desktops and laptops. To create a mobile friendly website you must use key elements to optimize loading speed. Note that speed greatly influences performance.  

About 40% of viewers will abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load. Then you have to take into account things like accessibility and search engine performance. In short, mobile-first website design considers the experience of mobile users. Always design the website’s mobile version first.  

What is the Difference Between Desktop Responsive Design and Mobile First Design?  

Mobile-first design is progressive enhancement, meaning smaller to bigger. Whereas desktop responsive design is graceful degradation, meaning bigger to smaller. Graceful degradation is when the website designer incorporates all the complex content at the beginning. Then, it’s cut down for the website’s mobile version. They design the website with desktop users in mind first. In other words, designing first for big screens and then adapting for smaller screens.  

Using this all-inclusive approach to design makes it difficult to identify the key elements. This was the traditional form of website design. In the early days of the internet this made sense. Now, this approach has become counterproductive. Most of the website traffic is now mobile users. Thus, designers need to prioritize mobile site performance. For a faster mobile loading speed, be selective about content and minify code. By using the mobile-first design approach designers create a more content-focused site from the start.  

Also, it is easier to adapt the content from a smaller screen to a larger one. Mobile-first design could be considered the new standard for website designers everywhere. 

What Does a Mobile-First Design Include? 

Creating a mobile-friendly site means that you must be selective about what content is featured on your website. Limiting the number and size of images and multimedia embeds. Minimizing text to shorter easy to read sentences. Creating more condensed paragraphs with plenty of whitespace between them. All of these are simplified strategies for mobile-first design. Keep in mind, you must be careful not to forget any important information or keywords for SEO. 

Mobile-First Design Checklist 

An easy way to conceptualize a good mobile first design is to look at a bad one. What bothers you most about a website’s mobile version? Answers often include slow loading speed, malfunctioning buttons, randomly magnified text, etc. Therefore, a good mobile first design considers these shortcomings. 

Here is a checklist of what to consider when designing with the mobile-first approach: 

  1. Including all relevant and high-quality content. 
  2. Including the necessary number of keywords 
  3. Limiting content amount, image size and multimedia embeds 
  4. Using short sentences. 
  5. Using condensed paragraphs and including enough white space between them. 
  6. Declutter to make your website simple and easy to navigate. 
  7. That all buttons are placed correctly and work.  
  8. The accessibility features work. 
  9. Tailoring the content to the context of users and their devices.  
  10. The loading speed should be fast. 

Technology for Mobile-First Design 

The demand of mobile-first design has brought forth new techniques for web developers. It has also reclaimed the importance of old techniques too! There are several advanced features to assist developers in mobile friendly designing.  

Here are some tools and tech suggestions to optimize your website’s mobile version: 

Conclusion: What You Need to Know About Mobile-First Design in 2023 

Mobile-first approach is a design philosophy. Where the designer begins by developing the mobile version of the website. Mobile-first design prioritizes mobile user experience. Mobile usage on search engines continues to grow.  

So, designing with the mobile-first approach ensures great user experience on all devices. This means designing a website that is accessible, easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and works well on all device types. Mobile-first design is now optimized for speed.  

Always consider the device your website is being viewed on by each user. Use summarized content and limit number of images and videos. There are old and new technologies to assist with mobile-first website design such as Google’s Mobile Friendliness Test, Page Speed Insights, GTmetrix, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Progressive Web Apps (PWA), and HTML5

Additional Reading

Must I Go Mobile?

Don’t Be Last: How to Survive Google’s Mobile-First Indexing

Responsive Mobile Friendly Website Designing

4 SEO Tips to Drive Traffic in 2021

Refreshing Your Image: Four Reasons to Redesign Your Site

Article by: 

Mars Saskia Katrina Verbeek


Mars Verbeek
December 29, 2022

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