Why Mobile First: Design for the Future

Mobile phones have transformed from being mere communication accessories to essential tools.  People use them to handle their finances, entertain themselves and access the Internet. In fact, desktops were quietly surpassed by mobile devices as the preferred medium for web browsing in 2016. Handheld mobile devices have become pervasive.  Retailers, businesses, and entrepreneurs need to adapt to this change if they want to be where their customers are.

Mobile First Design: What is it?

Mobile first design is a method that creates websites and pages for mobile users first before designing it for desktop use. In most cases, developers who create mobile first design focus on the content through clean and simple design.  Fancy buttons and scripts that come with standard desktop designs are becoming a thing of the past.

Comfort and flexibility are the main goals of mobile first design. With a webpage design optimized for mobile viewing users won’t need to zoom in or out.  We won’t need to scroll or pan large mobile web pages because they are automatically scaled down to the size of our mobile screen. This design is also more likely to be intuitive and automatic. Websites are displayed according to screen dimensions and requirements and can adapt to whatever screen is being used.

Progressive Enhancement in Mobile First Designs

Two methods that govern how the Internet is accessed across devices are graceful degradation and progressive enhancement.

Graceful degradation focuses on providing a set-up that works on as many browsers and platforms as possible.  It simply accounts for specific degradations that occur in the platforms without making the site totally unusable. This meant developing full standard websites with features that can be gradually peeled back as the platform loading it becomes simpler and smaller.

This is in stark contrast with progressive enhancement, where the design is originally tailored for the mobile platform.  Websites are created for mobile screens but incorporated with the capability for enhancement if it is viewed on platforms that can carry more complicated operations. This is how most mobile first designs originate simply because it forces developers to create a content-centric design that is simple yet effective. This also makes sure that the best features of the design stay as you move up.


The mobile first design is not without its downsides. For one, developing a website to fit small screens and platforms mean that developers have fewer resources to work with. Switching to this design may be a bit of a challenge for many developers used to building experiences around mouse clicks and hovers. It is a shift that comes with a learning curve.

Why switch to mobile first design?

In the past, websites and online portals were developed to be primarily accessible by desktop. Now people view webpages and sites through their phones.  It makes sense to shift to a design optimized for the devices that people are using the most.

In saturated markets, user experience is often what makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful brands. The mismatch in a website that is not optimized for mobile viewing can make navigation difficult. Your website may also not be as visually appealing on mobile as it is on desktop.

Another reason to shift to mobile first design is that Google favors mobile-friendly websites. Google recently announced that mobile-friendly sites will be prioritized in search algorithms.  Even those sites that have great organic content may be missing out on ranking and exposure if they stick to desktop-based design.

Mobile first designs are also more cost-effective. Because the design starts small, it saves on product design time. Due to the constraints of screen size, developers are also forced to come up with streamlined, practical designs that focus on content and less on the bells and whistles that characterize desktop designs.


Mobile devices are changing how we communicate, deal with finances, learn, and even entertain ourselves. The need for mobile first design is difficult to downplay. Not only it is good for your users, but it also helps you compete with hundreds, if not thousands, of business competitors.

LightHouse Graphics specializes in several areas of online presence, including website design, social media management, and content creation. If your business needs assistance in these areas, contact us. We’d love to work with you.