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Mobile First Web Design Techniques for 2023

With the ever-increasing rise of mobile devices as the primary means of accessing the internet, it’s crucial for businesses to have a strong and effective mobile presence. A mobile-first approach to web design is becoming increasingly important as it helps create a seamless experience for users regardless of the device they use to access your website. In this post, we’ll dive into the basics of mobile-first web design and how it differs from responsive web design. We will also talk about mobile-first elements, and why focusing on mobile-first is essential for your business.

How Mobile Design Differs From Responsive Design

Mobile web design and responsive web design may sound similar, but are quite different in their approach. Mobile web design focuses on creating a mobile-specific experience, reducing bloat, and designing with Google Core Web Vitals and website speed in mind. Content should be easy to consume on mobile devices, which means optimizing it for smaller screens, touch-based navigation, and mobile-specific features.

Mobile web design is a design approach that is focused on creating a website experience that is optimized for the smaller screens of mobile devices. This includes creating user interfaces and content that is easy to use and navigate on mobile devices. It also means reducing the amount of data and load time required for the website to be usable on these devices.

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Reducing bloat for mobile-specific experiences is a key aspect of mobile web design. This involves removing or reducing elements that are not essential for the mobile experience, such as large images or complex animations. This helps the website load quickly and efficiently on mobile devices, providing a better user experience for visitors.

Designing with Google Core Web Vitals (GCWV) and website speed is another important consideration for mobile web design. This involves optimizing the website to load quickly and efficiently, with a focus on the metrics as defined by GCWV. GCWV parameters include such metrics as page loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability, all of which are important in providing a positive user experience on mobile devices. Our WordPress speed service page provides additional information on optimizing website speed for mobile devices.

What exactly IS GCWV you may ask? 

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics defined by Google that measure the user experience (or UX) on websites. These metrics are designed to provide a comprehensive view of the quality of the website experience, taking into account factors such as loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. The Core Web Vitals are meant to serve as a guide for website owners and developers, helping them to prioritize improvements that will have the biggest impact on the user experience.

The three key metrics that make up the GCWV are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First, Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). 

  • LCP measures loading performance and it is defined as the time it takes for the largest content element on a page to become visible. 
  • FID measures interactivity and is defined as the time it takes for a page to become responsive to user input. 
  • CLS measures visual stability and is defined as the amount of unexpected layout shift that occurs while the page is loading.

By monitoring and optimizing these metrics, website owners and developers can ensure that their website provides a fast, responsive, and stable user experience. This can help to improve engagement, reduce bounce rates, and ultimately drive better business outcomes.

Finally, mobile web design is also focused on creating content that is easy to consume on mobile devices. This means optimizing the layout and presentation of text, images, and other media to be easily readable and accessible on smaller screens. It also involves ensuring that the content is organized in a way that is easy to navigate, with clear and simple menus and navigation options that allow your customers to quickly find what they are looking for.

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Three Great Examples of Mobile-first Websites

Take some time  to look for examples of what you think great mobile-first design looks like. When curating your list, there are a few key things to keep in mind; 

  1. No background videos
  2. No excessive images, galleries, or slideshows (carousels)
  3. Carefully selected background images
  4. Next-gen image formats such as WEBP or SVGs. 

If this seems a bit overwhelming, or unclear, don’t worry, we will go in-depth below!

Removing background videos for still images is a common design choice when designing for mobile users. Background videos can consume a lot of data and processing power on mobile devices and therefore lead to slow page loading times and an overall poor user experience. By removing these videos and using still images instead, you will be providing a better experience for users on mobile devices.

Reducing unnecessary or excessive images in slideshows or galleries is another common design choice for mobile-first design practices. On desktop devices, large, high-resolution images may look great and provide an immersive experience, but on mobile devices, they can take a long time to load and put a strain on the device’s resources. By reducing the number of images and optimizing their size for mobile devices, web designers can ensure that the user experience is fast and smooth.

Carefully selected background images are a key element of keeping the mobile experience as great as possible. These images should be chosen for their visual impact and ability to reinforce the brand and messaging of the website, while also being optimized for mobile devices. This entails using smaller images that are optimized for mobile devices or using images that are cropped specifically to look good at smaller sizes. You can also take the time to ensure that they are using next-gen image formatting which we will go over below.

Using next-gen image formats such as WEBP or SVGs when possible is another design choice for ensuring a fast loading mobile website experience. These image formats are smaller and more efficient than traditional formats such as JPEG and PNG. By using WEBP and SVG image formats, you are able to reduce page load times, conserve bandwidth, and provide a better user experience for visitors on mobile devices.

According to Google, WEBP can provide superior compression compared to other formats. This leads to smaller file sizes and faster page load times. This is due to its use of advanced image compression algorithms that are optimized for the web. For example, Google claims that WEBP images are typically 25-34% smaller in size than equivalent JPG images and 26% smaller than equivalent PNG images.

WEBP image files can have transparency, like PNGs, and can be used to create animated images, making it a versatile image format for the web. 

It’s important to note that all web browsers and devices do not support WEBP, so it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. However, for websites that target modern web browsers and devices, WEBP can provide a faster and more efficient experience for users.

Why Is It Important to Focus On Mobile-first Web Design Practices?

As stated earlier, mobile-first web design has become increasingly important in recent years, and for good reason. With the growing use of mobile devices for browsing the internet, it only makes sense for website owners and developers to focus on creating websites that are optimized for these devices. Below we will discuss some key reasons why focusing on mobile-first web design practices is so critical.

According to recent data, mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop usage, with over half of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices. This trend is only expected to continue, with mobile devices becoming the primary way that people access the internet. Additionally, e-commerce is also seeing a shift towards mobile, with mobile sales accounting for an increasing percentage of total sales. By focusing on mobile-first web design practices, website owners and developers can ensure that their website provides a great user experience for visitors, which can help to increase engagement, conversions, and revenue.

Women holding tablet with mobile-friendly website forms

In addition to the user experience benefits of mobile-first web design, there are also SEO benefits to consider. As we mentioned before, Google has indicated that page loading speed is a ranking factor for search results and that slow-loading pages can have a negative impact on a website’s search engine rank. With mobile devices typically having slower internet speeds and lower processing power than desktop devices, it is especially important to ensure that websites are optimized for these devices to prevent slow loading times. By implementing mobile-first web design practices, website owners and developers can help to ensure that their website loads quickly and efficiently on mobile devices, which can help to improve their search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic to their website.

How Can You Update or Redesign Your Website to Be Mobile Ready?

The fact of the matter is that if your website is not optimized to be mobile-friendly then you risk missing out on a significant amount of traffic and potential customers. Let’s talk about a couple of ways to update and redesign your website to make sure that it is mobile-ready;

Hire a web design company to redesign it! 

One option, and potentially the one that will be less of a headache for you, is to hire a professional.

A web design company can create a mobile-responsive design that is optimized for all types of mobile devices, from tablets to smartphones. They will also be able to ensure that your website is easy to navigate and use on mobile, with clear calls to action and a streamlined user experience. While hiring a web design company may be more expensive than the other options, it can be a worthwhile investment in the long run as it can help increase traffic and conversions and save you a considerable amount of time. 

Contact us to find out how Bocain Designs can make your website mobile friendly!

Bocain Designs
Bocain Designs

Dan is a founding partner of Bocain Designs, a web design company that specializes in WordPress web design and WordPress management. We've earned over 2,000 five-star reviews for our work with 2,500+ clients from over 80 countries. Let's talk about how we can make your business awesome online!