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What Is Mobile First? Your Ultimate Guide to Web Design in a Mobile Age

Well over half of all the searches conducted on the Internet are now completed on a mobile device.

This means that, if you’re first and foremost designing your website with desktop users in mind, you’re already behind the times.

While it’s important that you optimize your website for a variety of different access points and devices, the reality is that mobile first designs will do far better in Google search engine results.

In fact, Google is now indexing websites according to their mobile-friendliness, and has adopted a mobile-first ranking factor.

But what is mobile first, and how can you ensure that your website is getting it right?

That’s what this post is all about. Keep on reading to learn what it is and how to master it.


What Is Mobile First Web Design?

First and foremost, let’s answer the common question, “What does mobile first mean?”

Simply put, it’s the idea that searches who ideally end up on your website will use a tablet, a smartphone, or even a specific app in order to conduct their searches. This means that they’re more likely to conduct a search from their mobile phones than on a desktop computer.

This means that you’ll need to create a design for your website that is properly optimized for mobile users.

This means that your website is able to load in full, and in less than three seconds. It means that your images are optimized in terms of size and clarity for mobile devices. It means, even, that buttons are large enough to click.

It also that your social media handles will automatically work with apps like Instagram and Facebook in order to send mobile device users to your accounts on their platforms when they click on links to them on your site.

It still puts responsive website design and a general intuitiveness and ease of navigation at the forefront of everything you do. It just means that you should focus on mobile users first, and then on desktop users.

The Top Mobile First Design Principles

Now that we’ve covered the mobile-first definition, let’s take a look at a few of the many ways in which you can optimize your website for mobile users.

Yes, some of these ideas are complicated, but you’ll likely be surprised (and relieved!) to learn that some of them are fairly easy.

The Need For Speed

Your first step should be to do anything and everything possible to speed up your loading time, as this encourages people to stay on your site and helps you to rise in the search engine rankings.

To do this, eliminate pop-up ads, videos that play before your website loads or that play automatically, and resize your images so that they load quickly. You’ll also need to get rid of as many redirects as possible.

You should also take a look at your current hosting service and platform: can you do anything to make sure it has enough CPU and can handle all of your traffic without slowing down?

Also, make sure that your mobile site’s above-the-fold content loads before everything else — so that users actually have something to read while everything else is loading.

Finally, attempt to lower your overall file size through the use of file compression, and minimize as many CSS files as you can.

Optimize Your Actual Content

So, you can answer the question, “What is mobile first design?” But you still aren’t quite ready to master it just yet.

To do that, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve properly optimized your content for a mobile reader.

Always use images (small ones) to break up your text, as well as bullet points and subheadings. Remember that mobile users aren’t likely to read your content in full.

Instead, they’re more interested in scanning it. Make the most important information visible by using lots of whitespace, and aim to break up paragraphs after a maximum of five to six lines.

Above all, make sure that you show a variety of different types of content on your site. For every blog post, include a video. For every video, include a photo series. For every photo series, include a listicle or tutorial.

You get the idea.

Consistently Measure Your Mobile Hits

Finally, as with a desktop website, you should never stop measuring and testing the effectiveness of your mobile website.

It’s fairly simple to learn how to use the kinds of tools that make increasing mobile hits easier than ever before.

For example, use Google Analytics to figure out how much of your traffic is coming from mobile users, and how long they stay on your site. Hire web designers with an arsenal of professional tools to keep your mobile uptime is still going strong.

You might even consider using SMS/Text Messaging marketing to connect with mobile customers on a more direct level.

What Is Mobile First Design? Now, You Know

Now, you’re an expert in not only the mobile first definition, but also why it’s so important regardless of the industry you’re in or the size of your business in general.

Remember to get rid of unnecessary plugins and other things that slow down your site, focus on keeping content short and sweet, and always continue to test your mobile content.

Looking for additional advice on how you can continually improve your website design. Still find yourself asking, “What is mobile first design?”

Don’t worry.

Check out our website for additional in-depth SEO articles, mobile-friendliness design tips, and so much more.

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