Why mobile-first approach is important

Sarfaraz Chowdhry
Salik Bin Siraj
Tariq Siddiqui
Shahnawaz Dhamankar
January 21, 2023


In today’s world, mobile is the new norm. Why should your website be any different? The number of global smartphones in 2020 was 3.6 billion, which amounts to a 5.9% increase over the previous year. We spend more time on our phones today than ever. Whether it is making a search, posting a comment on social media, or simply staying connected through chat, the phone is always in reach. This means that more interactions are happening on phones than desktops; why should your website be any different?

Worldwide Market share per Screen Device – October 2021


But you might think. Why Mobile-first? Isn’t your website already mobile responsive? Aren’t they the same? So, let’s first understand the difference between the two and then explore the advantages your business can gain by adapting to the Mobile-first approach.

Difference between Mobile-first approach and responsive design:

Responsive Website Design

Responsive design is about adapting the website to the screen size of the device. It starts on the desktop, the highest required resolution, and then scales down to the smaller screen size. This means the designers first designs all the design elements like the layout, fonts, images, spaces, and other interactive elements like accordions, sliders, forms, image galleries with the desktop in mind. Then the layout is adapted and rearranged to fit smaller screen sizes; a separate design more suited for mobile devices is not created.

While responsive is a goto solution for most business websites as it’s cost-effective, it also has a few downsides. Even though the content and layouts adjust to fit small screens, these features are best designed for your laptop or desktop monitor. With a responsive design, there is only one design employed for all devices. This can result in poor mobile experiences on smaller screens. However, there might be some cases when responsive design might suit your needs better.

Here are few tips to help you decide if you should go for a responsive website.

  1. If you get most of your website traffic from desktop devices (check at least your last 6-12 months of Google Analytics data to determine this).
  2. If your website doesn’t have a complex layout or functionality and will work function well on desktops too.
  3. If your website is mainly copy-driven.
  4. If you want cost-effective development and maintenance.

Responsive web design has indeed become mainstream; however, you have been careful as not everything you add to your desktop website will easily adapt to smaller screens. Even while you have a responsive website, make sure you take mobile experience into account.

Mobile-first Approach

Mobile-first design is exactly as it sounds: designing for mobile-first and then scaling up to larger screens from there. Why does this matter? It matters because you’re delivering the right User Experience (UX) to the right screen. It starts with an assessment of the content that will work best on tiny screens before it considers how that looks at desktops. Mobile-first Approach is content-first approach, and you should give users the content they absolutely need with nothing additional. The key here is to keep things simple, anything additional than the absolute necessary will clutter, distract and hamper the user experience.

Not does Mobile-first design ensures the right User Experience (UX) – it can help improve your SEO rankings too! Mobile-first indexing means that Google will look at the mobile version of a website in order to rank it before the desktop version. By using the mobile-first design approach business can highly benefit and increase the chances of ranking their website higher on Google. So, whether your website really needs a Mobile-first approach or responsive website is good enough for you?

Here are few tips to help you decide if you should go for a Mobile-first approach.

  1. If most of your website traffic is from mobile devices.
  2. Your website functions like an app being used mostly by mobile users.
  3. Your website has complex functions that a responsive website cannot justify.

If you resonate with the points above, then Mobile-first design is certainly the way to go. Every website has its own unique user types, functionality needs, and goals. If you wish to learn more about Mobile First Design Strategy and its principle we recommend you read this article.

Which one should you choose?

Both approaches have their own pros and cons. There is no wrong or right approach between the two before you make a decision consider these crucial factors.

  1. Analyze the traffic on your website, also discussed above, but this a key in deciding between the two. If your website gets more mobile traffic, it’s worth considering the mobile-first approach.
  2. Understand your users and how they interact with your website. If your users are expected to engage more with your services on handheld devices mobile-first would be ideal, if not, then responsive would be good enough.
  3. Prototype the User Interface to check user journeys. Mainly for complex user interfaces, when a lot of functions are readjusted to fit to a mobile screen, it can become too overwhelming for users. Prototype your interface with user journey to depict real user behavior, then decide on your approach with other learnings.
  4. Determine the budget you want to work within for your website. Generally, the mobile-first approach requires a higher budget as they involve a lot of research and structure. Whereas simple responsive websites will cost lesser.

Once you have this study in place, you should be better positioned to decide on the best approach. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on what suits your business requirement more.

Need further help on making the right decision?

Are you still thinking about which one would be the best for you? Get professional advice from an expert to help you take the best approach. At Parashift Technologies, we partner with companies to help them build a growth plan for their business in the digital domain. We have been fortunate to able to help many companies start their journey and grow consistently. The digital world is constantly changing; your digital presence should be ready to adapt.

We’d love to help you build a plan that matches your business goals and is tailored to your particular needs.

Let’s Get Started >

Sarfaraz Chowdhry
Salik Bin Siraj
Tariq Siddiqui
People say I have a crazy idea. So what! I'm good with crazy ideas. I'm gonna make them work.
Shahnawaz Dhamankar
Founder & Lead Strategist at Parashift Technologies Pvt Ltd and the moving force behind ideation & strategy, design and technical development insight. I help companies turn high-level digital strategies into digital realities.

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