Since people today do most of their online activities via mobile devices, businesses are now increasingly focusing on mobile-first design when creating their websites.

The idea of mobile-first designing is quite simple: it all starts with constructing a mobile website version, which is later adapted for larger screens (tablets or computers).

In this guide, we are going to unveil all the details and explore how mobile-first web design differs from adaptive and responsive design and what the main advantages of this approach are.

We will also share valuable tips that will help you design a unique and attractive website to attract and engage users.

Mobile-First vs. Adaptive vs. Responsive Design

Before we delve into development details, let’s start with a brief overview of the essence and characteristics of each design concept you can employ for your website.

Mobile-first Web Design

As we already mentioned, the primary peculiarity of mobile-first design is that all elements are first placed on the small phone screen, assuring they are all effortlessly accessible to users.

This approach ensures that the mobile website will be simple, visually appealing, and fully functional.

Later, UI/UX designers adjust the already created mobile web interface for bigger screens, e.g., for desktops or tablets.

Adaptive Design

Adaptive design implies creating several layouts for diverse screen sizes. Essentially, there are three possible options:

  • 4′ – 6′ for mobile devices
  • 7′ – 11′ for tablets
  • 12’+ for desktops
Adaptive design implies creating several layouts for diverse screen sizes.

Specialists create three separate designs that can adapt to the users’ device screen automatically.

The main weakness of this approach is that website elements may not look good and stay at the planned place if the user’s screen ratio is non-standard.

Responsive Design

Responsive design implies constructing a single design version that automatically adjusts all elements to any screen size, even if the difference is only 1-2 pixels.

Such an approach allows you to make a single design for all possible devices, but you still need to check every page to guarantee that all elements of your website will look acceptable on any device.

Unfortunately, there is a possibility that the design you created won’t look good on several device categories.  

Here are 5 useful tools you can use to test if your website is responsive.

How to Create a Mobile-First Website Design

Now that you know the main differences between common design concepts, let’s discover how to build a successful mobile-first website design that will attract users and generate revenue for your business:

Step 1. Analysis and Planning

First and foremost, you should decide on the preliminary objective of your website. Analyze the users you aim to engage and study their preferences, demands, and pain points.

Suppose how exactly your website can help them and what you can do to make them choose you over all your competitors.

Also, conducting an in-depth analysis of competitors’ websites in your field to assess their strengths and drawbacks will help you find inspiration and serve as a good reference for your project.

Moreover, a competitor examination will enable you to understand fundamental industry standards and highlight key possibilities for advancement.

Step 2. Prototyping

Before developing a full-fledged design, you have to start working with a “rough draft.”

Begin by sketching a plain layout for the mobile version, concentrating on vital content and attributes. Develop wireframes for mobile screens, ensuring clear hierarchy and intuitive navigation.

If your website will include a wide variety of pages, you should prepare wireframes for each one.

Once you’re happy with the first result, create clickable prototypes using tools like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD to visualize the user flow on mobile devices.

Step 3. Design the User Interface

Once you’ve decided on the primary design layout, paying supplementary attention to details that can considerably affect your platform’s general experience is important.

Consider these key aspects:

  • Minimalism. Don’t clutter the design with unnecessary images and text that aren’t critical to the functionality and create visual overload.
  • Readability. Use fonts and sizes that will be comfortably perceived by users with small cell phone screens.
  • Comfortable touch input. Place all website elements where they will be clickable and accessible to fingers on a small screen.
  • Image adaptability. Make sure that the images on your platform will not lose quality when moving to a larger or smaller screen size.
Mobile-First Web Design - Key details of a mobile-friendly UI.

Step 4. Website Development

Once you are done with planning and prototyping, you can move on to the technical part of the job and turn the concept into a working web product.

Partner with experienced web developers with extensive knowledge of HTML, CSS, Flexbox, etc., and can build the front-end part of your website to reproduce your design concept.

Also, work closely with QA engineers who will test your website’s functionality and performance and ensure its seamless operation.

Step 5. Launch and Monitor

After all designing and development processes are completed, you can prepare to launch your website by moving it to the live server.

It is better to approach this process step by step, beginning with the mobile design release and consistently optimizing it for larger screens.

However, the work is still not over. You should also use analytics tools to track user behavior and key performance indicators (KPIs).

You can update your website and add advanced features using these valuable insights.

Tips to Make a Quality Mobile-First Website Design

To guarantee the success of your mobile-first website, we’ve gathered some of the most valuable design tips you can utilize:

Concentrate on Root Content

Choose the most paramount information you want to share with your readers and ensure that it will be visible in the mobile version immediately as the user enters your website.

It doesn’t mean you need to remove all other content but take care of the most important elements first. However, if there are a lot of them, make sure you don’t overload the screen.

Pay Attention to Performance

No matter how beautiful and impressive your website’s design is, no one will visit it if it takes too long to load.

To boost performance and minimize loading time, you should use optimization tools.

For instance, minimize heavy scripts and plugins that can slow down the site’s loading on mobile devices.

Correspondingly, ensure that you use modern image formats, such as Webp. They don’t overload your site and increase its performance.

Consider Branding

To achieve guaranteed success, you should create a solid brand identity. Assemble your website design with your logo, and use corporate colors and fonts.

Combining your brand symbolism with a unique and user-friendly design will give your website visitors a positive impression of you and make customers remember you, thus creating a tight-knit community.

Controls Convenience

Focus on ensuring all buttons are large enough to comfortably press with a finger. However, you should consider the overall appearance since too many large objects will make your platform look bad.

Minimalism is a great tool for this task: the fewer additional elements you have on the screen, the easier it is to tap the key ones.

Use a Cascading Structure

Start designing from mobile devices and consistently expand it to desktops to accommodate the limitations of smaller screens. Then, you can add additional features for larger devices.

This design structure helps avoid clutter and unnecessary complexity on mobile devices but still ensures high performance and good visuals.

Consider App Design

As a rule, mobile users are used to interface elements that are typically common for most applications.

While creating a mobile-first website design, you should build a layout considering popular mobile app design examples.

Partner With a Reliable IT Vendor

To ensure that your design concept will be successfully brought to life, you should cooperate with a reliable software provider with extensive web development experience and high-quality UI/UX design services.

To choose the best partner, review their portfolio, check customer testimonials on hiring platforms, and consider technical expertise.

Opt for Outsourcing

There is a great choice of cooperation models for IT services, including freelance or in-house teams.

However, if you want to save time and resources, reduce the cost of website design, and launch your platform faster, we recommend hiring an outsourcing software development company.

By turning to this cooperation option, you receive access to a huge talent pool worldwide, so you can ensure you will find the required expertise on time.

These tips will help you create a mobile-first web design that delivers a great user experience and high performance on all types of devices.

Wrapping Up

To summarize, mobile-first website creation is a beneficial strategy for modern businesses aiming to reach a wide audience, including phone, tablet, and desktop users.

By selecting this mobile-first web design approach, you can guarantee your visitors a seamless user experience, a good-looking interface, high website performance, and overall usage convenience.

So, if you are planning to launch a website that will be friendly to mobile users, consider hiring an experienced web developer who will transform your idea into a quality mobile-first platform. 

Author Bio

Yuliya Melnik is a technical writer at Cleveroad, a software development company in Ukraine.

Yuliya Melnik is a technical writer at Cleveroad, a software development company in Ukraine. She is passionate about innovative technologies that make the world a better place and loves creating content that evokes vivid emotions.

About the Author

WP Webify

WP Webify

Editorial Staff at WP Webify is a team of WordPress experts led by Peter Nilsson. Peter Nilsson is the founder of WP Webify. He is a big fan of WordPress and loves to write about WordPress.

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