Mobile first represents a fundamental shift in how businesses build websites. The old approach starts with a desktop computer-optimized site. Programmers then engage in graceful degradation, a process that strips out features to make a site operational on mobile devices. The mobile first paradigm calls for building a mobile-optimized site first, then adding features into other versions in a process called progressive enhancement.
Why Use Mobile First
Under the desktop first paradigm, mobile sites often displayed poorly or failed to perform well. With more people accessing the web from their mobile devices, and upwards of 25% of users accessing websites exclusively from mobile devices, mobile first design with an eye toward excellent user experience is a revenue-driving necessity.
Benefits of Mobile First
Mobile first offers a range of benefits. Sites load quickly on mobile devices, cutting down on slow load time bounce rates. It improves the user experience. Visitors get a more comprehensive set of essential site functions. They also get a site that displays content that is easier to process visually.
Pitfalls of Not Using Mobile First on Responsive Design Sites
Although a popular approach, responsive design sends identical information to every device and displays content based on CSS coding and device size. Failure to use a mobile first in conjunction with responsive design sites slows load time while mobile devices process all of the site information.
Mobile First Disadvantages
The major disadvantage of mobile shows up on the development side. As the process runs in the opposite direction from what most site programmers learned, it slows down the process and leads to serious frustration.
Identifying Mobile First and Non-Mobile First Sites
A few key signs that a site used mobile first include readable display of content without adjustment, vertical menu bars and swift load times. Poor load times, hard to read content and horizontal menus are clear signs of a non-mobile first site.