What does Mobile First Design mean

Mobile first

The term Mobile First describes a concept for web design as well as the conception of websites. It stipulates that the version optimized for mobile devices will be created first and successive expansions will take place. The “Mobile First” strategy thus follows the trend that more and more users are surfing the Internet with their smartphones or tablets and not with their desktops.[1]

Web development and web design have focused exclusively on the alignment of websites for stationary desktops from the very beginning. Initially, however, the design was relatively simple due to the lower downstream bandwidths, because in the 1990s the connection to the Internet was still via dial-up modem and speeds of a maximum of 54 kbit / s.

As a result, design and functionality had to be adapted to the surfing speed. Over time, websites were able to offer more and more features, as downloads got faster and faster thanks to DSL. With high-speed Internet via VDSL, speeds of more than 100 Mbit / s can be achieved, depending on the region. The loading speeds of modern websites could no longer be achieved today with a conventional dial-up modem.

In parallel with the development of faster, stationary Internet access, the mobile Internet emerged, which was possible from the start with the GSM standard and which was first specialized with WAP. Since 2015, the proportion of Internet users in Germany who also use their smartphones or tablets to surf has increased to 80%.[2] Mobile data connections have also gradually become faster and recently reached a temporary high point with the fourth generation of mobile communications (4G) [data transmission rate # LTE | LTE] or LTE +. Currently (as of 2021) the fifth generation (5G) is being expanded, which will soon become the standard and will replace 4G across the board.[3] The new standard is intended to increase the speed of mobile data traffic tenfold.

In the course of this development, web designers, webmasters and SEOs have to ask themselves more and more frequently how content can be optimized for mobile devices. Mobile optimization is a consequence of these considerations. This is based on the procedure to initially orientate oneself towards mobile usability when designing the presentation and usability of a website. Mobile First replaced the previous approach of responsive design.

The principle

In the spirit of mobile first, the priorities when designing and building a website are set differently. Initially, mobile sub-pages were created, marked by an m. In front of the domain name (example: m.ryte.com). Users only accessed these pages via their smartphones. But the first problems soon arose with these mobile URLs. Above all in design. Another problem was the large number of different display sizes on smartphones.

Because a uniform display of mobile websites was not possible, a dynamic design was developed that has been the standard for mobile-friendly designs since around 2010, the responsive design. A drawback of this was that some pages were displayed on the smartphone in "endless mode". The solution then was often to purify the mobile design. The usability, which was originally intended to improve because it only makes part of the content available to mobile users, increasingly suffered as a result.

The principle of mobile first was born out of this problem. The priorities are set the other way around. The design or structure of a website is based on usability on mobile devices, especially smartphones.

The conception of a website is thus limited to the rudimentary and essential. There is no more programming and setup than necessary in order to achieve maximum functionality on all end devices. Website sketches are designed directly for smartphone screens. These elements, which have been optimized for the smartphone, are then arranged more extensively on the website.

But not only the areas that are immediately visible are radically shortened, but also the source code. Functions such as JavaScript, for example, are usually not taken into account at all with Mobile First. The page itself can be programmed immediately in HTML5.

The advantages [edit]

Those who pursue the strategy of Mobile First can benefit from many advantages. On the one hand, it is doing justice to the trend towards surfing the Internet with smartphones. A mobile optimization takes place automatically at the beginning of the website conception.

But the desktop version also benefits from Mobile First. Because basically it is not a design approach, but a content-related approach: only the most important content appears on the page and only the essentials are displayed. If you want to add more functions to your website later, you can do that without any problems.

In addition, a page optimized for mobile devices can be more easily adapted to new developments due to its leaner structure than a conventionally programmed website.

Criticism of Mobile First

In the early days of the mobile first principle, there were occasional critical voices. But in the meantime the design concept has largely become the standard in UI / UX design. Among other things, Google has completely switched its crawlers to Mobile First since March 2021.[4] A rejection of the adaptation of Mobile First has been practically impossible since then.

Alternative approaches such as user first design or journey-driven design put user behavior in the foreground of website design. Among other things, this takes into account the fact that many users consume different content on their smartphone or tablet than they do on their desktop or smart TV. However, it should be said that these are purely design-based approaches and not functional alternatives to Mobile First. Strictly speaking, user first and journey-driven design are based on mobile first principles.[5]

Mobile First, Google and SEO [edit]

Google has reinforced the importance of mobile first again since the search engine group made mobile friendliness a ranking factor in 2016 and later made the mobile index the primary index. Since then, the mobile website version has been crawled instead of the desktop version. In the meantime, Google has completely turned off its desktop crawlers, which is almost like a mobile-only introduction.

Mobile first also has an impact on search engine optimization. Elements such as voice search, i.e. search via voice input, and page speed are steadily increasing in importance. Optimizing this should be given special priority by Mobile First.

References Edit]

  1. ↑ Development of mobile internet usage in Germany statista.com. Retrieved on April 26, 2021
  2. ↑ Share of mobile internet users in Germany by 2020 statista.com. Retrieved on April 26, 2021
  3. ↑ What is 5G? Advantages and risks of the 5th generation of mobile communications consumer advice center. Retrieved on April 26, 2021
  4. ↑ Google is completely switching to Mobile First Indexing Searchmetrics. Retrieved on April 26, 2021
  5. ↑ User First - This is how the Piwik Pro cross-device optimization works. Retrieved on April 26, 2021

Webinks [edit]