What is mobile-first design, and why is it so important in 2021?

A mobile-first design is a web development strategy that focuses on designing for mobile phones or devices and then for desktops, vs the conventional, which is focused on desktop optimization first. Mobile-first web design should not be confused with responsive web design; they are two different strategies.

Mobile-first design melbourne australia
Mobile-first design

According to a study by SWEOR, 85% of adults want a mobile site as good as a desktop website.
57% of people will not recommend a website that does not look good on a mobile device. Today approximately two billion people access the internet using their smartphones.

This figure will reach 3.7 billion by 2025. In June 2019, mobile devices accounted for 50.74% of searches while desktops fell to 45.53%. Organic reach is one of the best means of bringing in business, and this is why It is worth investing effort and time for the best results.

How is mobile-first design different from responsive web design?

With responsive web design, the designer first creates a design wireframe with elements like navigation, carousels, hero images, and other UI elements with a desktop user in mind. The designer then moves to a Mobile UI, essentially shrinking, rearranging, and sometimes eliminating non-critical parts, refactoring the designs to fit smaller screens.

A mobile-first design stands in sharp contrast by prioritizing the mobile user experience over the desktop user. The UI for desktop browsers takes a back seat and shows no more or less what the mobile user experiences.

Advantages of the mobile-first design

Our initial introduction shows some significant advantages in using a mobile-first web design approach.

The top benefits of creating a mobile-first design are:

  1. Content Prioritization
  2. Faster Loading speed (Great For SEO)
  3. It has mass appeal
  4. Easy to use and Build for

Content Prioritization

Mobile-first design forces web designers to prioritize information for the mobile screen. Something that is usually an afterthought in a web designers mind. Screen real estate all of a sudden becomes very valuable, and as a result, designers tend to showcase critical marketing messages earlier on the page without much or any distraction.

Faster loading speed (Great For SEO)

As the space on a mobile phone is limited, the screen real estate used to display images and text is also tiny. Even with the onset of 5G mobile connections, a designer needs to consider that mobile phones might load a lot slower than high-speed desktop connections.

A faster website typically translates into a better user experience for both desktop and mobile users and is one of the key factors contributing to better SEO ranking.

It has mass appeal

The adoption of smartphones by most individuals has boosted the use of the internet and its universal use. It was not the desktop that has pushed the internet to its ultimate use but the mobile phone. Many home user’s now opting to only use a mobile phone vs having a home PC. Thus the days of portable superiority are here to stay and dominate.

In 2020, more than 50% of internet users accessed the web via mobile. A critical rule of marketing is knowing where your audience is and going to meet them. Since most website visitors are mobile internet traffic, it is logical to base your designs on mobile devices.

Easy to use and build for

It is easy to navigate a mobile website; the limited screen real estate again forces the designer to think more logically. The nature of mobile users is aggressively seeking important information, also moving the website designer again to bring more critical information faster and more efficiently to its audience.

Web developers use simple code and generally less complicated scripts as there is less need to dazzle the viewer. On the other hand, are desktop sites that use complex code for styling. You will need plenty of reorganization and redesign when you scale a complex desktop site to mobile (responsive web design). Errors are harder to fix, and testing becomes cumbersome.

Disadvantages of Mobile-first web design

Well, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to mobile-first web design; it also has a few disadvantages:

various mobile platforms
Various Mobile Platforms

Testing on Platform & Browsers:

By the end of 2020, 46.45 per cent of the world’s population will own a smartphone. This kind of popularity attracts many smartphone manufacturers, each having its dedicated platform and variant of browser.

The introduction of newer device models and platforms makes it extremely hard to test websites in an industry that is growing faster than any industry has ever seen before.

The difference in design language:

There is a vast difference in the design language of mobile devices and desktops which can be confusing to web designers and website users. A comfortable bridge between both mediums is a tricky balance that is generally very hard to achieve but not impossible by more experienced web designers.

Our Melbourne web design company, Toffy Co, strives to strike the right balance between mobile and desktop design on all our projects.

Here are four easy tips for creating mobile-first websites

  • Use Good Software to Automate your testing and save time:
    Test the display of your websites on as many platforms and browsers as you can. We have used Sause Labs to view how our websites have displayed on different platforms and browsers for years.
  • Think Thumb-Friendly Design Thinking: In other words, think about creating extensive, bold navigation that users with large or small fingers will quickly use.
  • Make your call to action (CTA) buttons stand out: Mobile users are generally in a hurry to access information; make your call to action statements and buttons clear and always visible on screen. Make it easy for them to click on email or call you up for a quote.


We think that building a mobile-first website is essential to the success of any online business at the very least; making a site responsive is very important.

It is a multi-faceted and exacting process that will need regular tweaking as the industry grows out. If you do not have the expertise, personnel, or time to build a mobile-first site, contact Toffy Co an experienced Melbourne web design company.

Book an obligational free appointment today with one of our web design consultants by clicking here.