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Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

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Mobile First Strategy_Stats_New

Gone are the days when websites were developed for large screens of desktop computers or laptops. Today, everything has to be scaled down to fit smaller screens of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

With Google’s mobile-friendly update for websites as released on April 21, 2015, it has now become apparent for every webmaster or blogger to apply a mobile-first strategy for website development.

Developers now focus on mobile-optimised websites that work great on mobile phones and tablets, and then scale up perfectly for larger computer or laptop screens.

Let’s take a look at what mobile first web-design means, and its importance for websites, and how to start development of mobile-friendly websites.

What Does Mobile-First Approach Mean?

The ‘mobile first’ strategy for website development involves designing an online experience first for mobile devices and then optimizing it for scaling up to desktop and laptop computers.

It does not mean designing a website that works well on desktop computers and then adjusting it to be compatible with mobile phones or tablets. The mobile-first process is to design online websites specifically for mobile customers, keeping their dynamic behaviour, context and needs in perspective.

The user interface should suit mobile devices with easily readable text and easy navigation to the different sections of the site.

Why Go Mobile-First?

The number of mobile users has increased manifold and easily outnumbers the number of people that access websites on PCs or laptops.

According to a ComScore report, mobile devices generate more than 60% of the online traffic to websites. This percentage keeps on increasing with every passing quarter, and that has fuelled the need for every business to have mobile-friendly websites.

Mobile First Strategy

Source: ComScore

So, if you haven’t optimised your website yet, you need to get their sites scaled up for the smaller screens.

Today, the majority of internet users access social media via tablets or mobile phones. So, a new website shared on any social media platform with friends and colleagues is more likely to be viewed first on the screens of mobile devices.

If the site is not mobile-friendly and users are unable to view it correctly the first time around, then, they are less likely to recheck the website from their desktop or laptop. It is, therefore, obvious that any new website or blog needs to be designed and developed with a mobile-first strategy.

Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites in 2015

Now, it has become even more important to develop mobile-optimised websites because of the mobile-first update (known as mobilegeddon) from Google (in April 2015).

As per the update, any mobile-friendly website or blog has a better chance of appearing higher in Google search results on mobile devices as compared to sites that are not mobile-optimized.

Another reason for websites to move to mobile-optimised versions is the ever-growing trend of online shoppers preferring to use apps for shopping. The amount of time that is saved (by shopping on the move) along with the money saved through discount deals on the apps of famous eCommerce players has ignited the need to go mobile with websites on an immediate basis.

Any new eCommerce merchant has to ensure that the developed website is first compatible with mobile devices as the majority of the target audience will be tablet and smartphone users.

This need was further emphasised when Amazon reported around 60% online sales from mobile devices during shopping season in 2014 (source: CNET ).

Useful Tips for Mobile-First Site Development

It is necessary to have a fluid and responsive design instead of an adaptive one. This will ensure the site layout fits accurately for varied screen sizes of different mobile phones and tablets.

Another important task is to focus only on the core features and content, as mobile sites need to be developed within limited real estate.

So, unlike the screen real estate available with larger monitors and displays, web designers need to rethink their strategy while designing a mobile website from scratch. Anything that is not absolutely necessary for the mobile users can be removed from the site design to save space.

The preferable approach is to focus solely on content (images, text, forms) initially, followed by site beautification through the addition of CSS elements. Later, the focus should be to provide add-on features using JavaScript.

This progressive enhancement approach from content to styling to the presentation will add immense value to the mobile website.

So have you adopted the mobile-first approach for your websites already? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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