Go ‘Mobile First’: The Importance of Perfecting UX in the Mobile Market


AUGUST, 2022

Mobile-first should be the cornerstone of UX for businesses, and perfecting it for the thriving mobile ecommerce market is crucial to online success. A mobile-first approach allows easier to adapt responsive mobile designs for larger screens & devices.

Whether a business is just starting up or is a fully-fledged trading behemoth, it’s imperative that they each strongly design and implement an outstanding mobile experience.

Once that Mobile platform is in place and fully optimised, delivering a customer experience like no other, begin to experiment on multiple devices and outlets that your target audience also utilises.

Always ensure that the consumer experience is consistent on every platform; keeping up-to-date with the latest technological trends, shopper behaviour, and new media will allow businesses to easily stay one step ahead of competitors, and be the first port-of-call for consumers.

What is Mobile First?

The latest figures show (rather obviously) that the majority of people use their smartphones to interact on social media, check their emails, and browsing online. Stores with a poor first impression will in all likelihood lose user interest, sales, and have absolutely zero customer retention.

Although, to be clear, ‘Mobile First’ is not about prioritising mobile users above desktop users, or as a separate population. Mobile users are likely to own several devices which they consume content or make purchases on, from tablets to laptops & desktops.

Why Mobile First?

The number of smartphone users in the world is expected to surpass 5 billion by 2019. It’s no coincidence that businesses are converting to a ‘Mobile First’ model due to the astonishing potential of the mobile market.

From a Design and development perspective, it allows both teams to filter out issues early and concentrate on content, website accessibility, and maintenance. It is currently one of the best strategies for creating a responsive web design.

Once the groundwork is perfected, a mobile first site is able to be gradually enhanced or altered for the ‘bigger’ devices like desktop & laptop, with less time constraints.

It’s still a topic of debate that scaling down a website from desktop to Mobile is a longer process compared to the ‘Mobile First’ approach. The misconception that it forces designers into a minimalist, efficient mindset is restricting creativity and is verging on self-sabotage – a detriment to any business.

Is Responsive Web Design the same as Mobile First?

A common subject when it comes to the latest web design trends. Responsive and Mobile-First is not quite the same thing, but they’re not rival design strategies either.

Responsive design is a concept that design & development should be able to automatically respond to a user’s behaviour and environment based on their device’s screen size, platform and orientation.

This procedure consists of variable frameworks, images and a resourceful use of CSS media queries. It focuses on creating a seamless transition between multiple devices, rather than following the Progressive Enhancement methodology that Mobile-First endorses.

Mobile First’s emphasis is on minimal modifications, a streamlined touchscreen navigation, fast download speeds, and rich media content to provide a completely optimised mobile experience.

Responsive Design starts from the desktop version that’s at the maximum required resolution, and is then subsequently scaled down to the smallest iteration (i.e. mobile). Despite the content and layout contracted to fit smart devices, the site navigation, content and download speeds are tailored more towards traditional desktop websites.

It is better to implement a responsive design if the majority of your users access your website via desktop or laptop. If a website contains rich, heavy amounts of information and a requirement to host large forms and complex CTA buttons for users, then utilizing responsive design would probably suit their needs, rather than mobile first.

Do your market research; use Google Analytics and browse industry statistics to see how and when users are accessing your website. User testing and engaging with clients regarding their ‘user-experience’ of your website should provide adequate feedback in order to gauge the changes or improvements you can make.

How to Implement a Mobile First Design?

Crafting a streamlined mobile site with clear content and navigation should be a given; but it’s also the planning beforehand that plays a huge part.

A clear and concise Mobile First business strategy should consider:

  • Use a Responsive Framework - It’s easier than ever to design frontend and backend UI’s due to more and more ‘Mobile First’ frameworks becoming increasingly popular.

  • How to engage with mobile users and analyse their consumer behaviours - Who is your Mobile audience?

  • Prioritise Content - Designing with purely mobile frameworks requires an emphasis on content to be at the forefront of any strategy. Precisely what content is also essential, since mobile users generally seek device-specific content.

  • Simplify Navigation - Location, position, and order are crucial aspects of UI, so ensure each user has a clear path.

  • Perfect that CTA Button - It could make or break your conversion rates.

It’s easier than ever to design frontend and backend UI’s due to more and more ‘Mobile First’ frameworks becoming increasingly popular.

One of the most important things to cater for in a Mobile website, quite obviously, is your website’s loading speed. You should be doing everything in your power to ensure web-pages consistently hit maximum page speed.

Earlier this year, Google announced that page loading speed will become a significant ranking factor for mobile searches.

The “Speed Update” directly‘ affects pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.’

Google also advises how quickly your website’s pages should take to load before consumers will leave – a mere 3 seconds.

There are many techniques on how to increase website page speed for mobile, some dependent on what CMS system you may use.

Here’s a few brief examples below:

  1. Reduce server response time.

  2. Avoid URL redirects altogether if you can help, otherwise keep them to a minimum in order to increase mobile page speed.

  3. ‘Minify’ redundant data & trim page weight that’s slowing down your pages without affecting how the pages are displayed.

  4. Install a caching system for your website.

  5. Optimise Image Sizes - compress all images meant for mobile screens to increase page speed.

Possessing a ‘non-mobile friendly’ website isn’t entirely detrimental to a business, but it increases the risk of negatively impacting that website’s google rankings.

The Power of Google's Mobile First Indexing

The search engine giant’s infatuation with Mobile-First Indexing is an attempt to make the web primarily mobile based as a reflection of behavioural trends.

What is Mobile First Indexing? Simply put, it means the mobile version of a website is now the starting point for what Google incorporates in their index, but that doesn’t mean the new indexing method won’t index/rank your desktop site.

Possessing a ‘non-mobile friendly’ website isn’t entirely detrimental to a business, but it increases the risk of negatively impacting that website’s google rankings.

In the new index, mobile-based content is the primary device for displaying listings to both desktop and mobile users. Once the mobile-content is successfully indexed, the mobile-friendly ranking aid is applied to mobile-friendly pages, similar to the previous indexing method.

For those worried about how Google’s Mobile First Index affects SEO, like I’ve previously mentioned before – prioritise exactly what content is displayed on your mobile site.

Mobile First frameworks ensure that Content is King, so condense mobile content into the who's/how's/what's of the world. Analyse your audience carefully and adapt your content for their needs. Mobile users are looking for answers from websites that can fulfil their needs quickly and clearly.

Lastly, if you were wondering how to opt out of Google’s new indexing process, you can’t. Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller confirmed this on his Twitter page.

Mueller’s response indicates that Google firmly believes the future of web consumption is over mobile devices, so make sure your business is prepared for the changes it will constantly bring to the table.

The businesses that are quick to put their Mobile-First foot forward will find it much easier to keep up with the latest trends, engage with consumers more easily, and have better rankings once Google becomes their best friend.

Sherwen Studios is a digital web agency located in Chester, able to provide services across the world. If your business needs assistance on how to design a mobile website, how to boost mobile conversion rates, or requires specific improvements in Web Performance, we can help today.

Contact us hello@sherwen.com to discuss your options.