If you are considering a revamp of your website, starting a new business, or wondering why the current desktop version of your website isn’t getting the metrics you desire, read this article to understand and consider the problems that arise from a mobile-first action plan.
Around 2014, a trend began in our industry where web designers and businesses wanted to highlight the mobile version of their website more so than the desktop version. This concept is called ‘mobile-first’. The trend like most others has subsided as time progressed, though there are still those that will try to push mobile-first onto business owners who don’t have the experience to know better, lending itself to the possibility of a bad experience for their customers.
Mobile-first should come with a warning label: Caution! May cause a lot of wasted space, blurry images, and higher bounce rates!
Relating to your Business
What can a poor website user experience (UX) mean for business? When considering mobile as the starting point, the costs must be weighed. If an unpleasant UX or UI (user interface) is designed, there is a chance of higher bounce rates, less click-through-rates, and lower credibility for the business. This can hurt the company’s search engine optimization, causing them to rank lower on web searches creating less web traffic, and then potentially less customers.
Note: While there are industries where mobile-first would be a better route to take, they are few and far in between. Even if the data and metrics are showing that mobile use is leading for a specific business or industry, it is still suggested to not design mobile-first because it risks losing those who are using a desktop. However in these cases, even if you are not designing for mobile first, it is acceptable to put more resources (i.e. spending, monitoring, management) into the mobile UX. Additionally, mobile-first is justified for ads specifically marketed towards mobile users – for example when prospects are in a location that they’re more likely to use a mobile device.
Many times what people think is a glitch on their internet browser or a poorly designed website is actually just a website created for mobile-first. Here’s why mobile-first doesn’t work…
Cell phones and tablets have smaller screens than a laptop or a desktop. Therefore, when a website is created with the focus for the cell phone or tablet, it is inherently flawed on the bigger display monitors. A mobile-first website is not responsive when it is expanded to a larger screen. In other words, when you expand something small into something larger, content becomes disproportioned and misplaced or the website may end up with a lot of empty space. If you’re a human that has lived in the 21st century, you must have encountered what happens when there’s a really small photo on an electronic device – zoom in and the photo becomes very blurry and pixelated, resulting in a low quality image. The same applies with web design for mobile-first. It just doesn’t work when you blow it up. Therefore a choice must be made: change the design for the desktop version to be different from the mobile one, demanding more work, time and energy, or establish the desktop version originally in the first place and make things much simpler by then just converting that content to the mobile. A desktop version created first is more responsive and adaptable to mobile than a mobile version is to desktop.
The best way to combine the desktop and mobile versions is going to take some configuring by the web designer/developer during the creation process. We take the time while designing to ensure that features continue to function properly as the size of the screen shrinks or enlarges, utilizing developer tools, to create a cohesive flow. It’s a challenge we enjoy!
Ultimately, the goal is to have a harmonious website that can be as small as an iPhone 5 or as large as a smart T.V. without sacrificing a great experience for the user. We predict there will always be large screens, at least for a very, very long time from now. With more people working from home than ever before, as people are browsing the web, and can now even search the internet on a television, we at Logical say “Desktop first, mobile second!” (given it’s not the industries with the exception).