Mobile-First Design: Why Remembering Mobile Is Like Putting On Trousers

October 14th, 2015 in Design, Development, Search Engine Optimisation, Web

We’re all familiar with the concept of optional extras: additional cup holders in your car,

or ‘accent stitching’ on that custom-made suit. But you wouldn’t buy a new motor

without an engine, and you wouldn’t slip on a new three-piece that didn’t come with

trousers. Those are just the basics. But why is it often so different for websites?

In today’s world, your website will be viewed in a hundred different ways. On a

smartphone or a desktop, a tablet or a netbook; it might be loaded up in Chrome or Safari,

Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. This makes demands on your developers that were

absent in the ‘good old days’ of IE’s dominance, always installed on a 486DX2 66 MhZ

machine.

 

Just like an engineer or a tailor, web designers need to move with the times in terms of

what is considered ‘the basics’. That’s why we believe that all websites should be

‘responsive’ as standard. What do we mean by this? It’s simple, really: we mean that

every client should have confidence that their website will display perfectly on any

screen – and that none of their customers will be turned off by a design that just doesn’t

work on their device of choice.

 

This might sound like common sense, but a surprising number of other web agencies

charge extra for building responsive websites. That is, they treat the ability to display

properly on the varied devices people now use as an optional extra. For us, that’s like

forgetting to put on your trousers.

 

Think about it: according to comScore, the number of people globally using mobile

devices of one kind or another to access the internet has now exceeded those using the

traditional desktop computer. If your site is designed exclusively for desktops – still the

‘basic package’ offered by many developers – you will be alienating the largest segment

of your audience.

 

Not only that, but the internet has changed to reflect these new behaviours: Google has

made changes to how it ranks websites in order to reward those which prioritise the

mobile experience. They are not only penalising those websites which don’t offer any

mobile functionality at all; they are denying rankings even to websites which offer

limited responsive features, such as providing a ‘no-frills’ mobile version of their desktop

website.

 

What can you do about this? You can choose a developer who doesn’t simply remove

functionality from a basic desktop website until it ‘fits’ on a smartphone screen. At

Image+, our design philosophy is ‘mobile first’: we start from the smallest screen,

creating a great website which we can then enhance with each move upwards in size

towards the desktop. This, not surprisingly, is the approach which Google endorses.

 

‘Mobile first’ design isn’t just what the world’s biggest search engines expect. It’s what

your customers want, too. Make sure your website is the success you need it to be – and

don’t settle for a designer who forgets to put on their trousers.