Pro Guide To Accelerate Speed With Mobile-First Website Design

Around 3.8 billion people use smartphones globally in 2021. It amounts to a whopping 48.53 percent of world’s populace owning a mobile phone (read smartphone). And that’s like a solid 9.3 percent spike over the past 1 months. So, what do these numbers spill? Well, the very fact that a wealth of people globally is increasingly getting used to smartphone usage. After all, it’s always more convenient to scroll on mobile screen than browse on laptop/desktop every day.  Speaking of that, it’s about time for website designers and developers to contemplate about the new standard to create a highly engaging experience for mobile users.

Below goes your pro guide to scale up your website for mobile users to ensure breezy scrolling and more improved website navigation from this New Year onwards

Mobile-first design and responsive design are not Siamese twins

There is a misconception that mobile-first design is synonymous to responsive design. While these two concepts are almost alike but they aren’t the same stuff.

A responsive website design is the one where the website layout adjusts easily to any kind of screen size, irrespective of the device. It’s like building the website for big-screened devices first and using a mobile-based layout as afterthought.

But, with a mobile-first design, the “mobile-screen” experience takes precedence over layouts for other screen sizes found in other browsing devices. With numbers of smartphone users fast overtaking desktop/laptop, it’s about time web designers focus more on mobile-first design than mere responsive design.

More importantly, Google has also underlined the growing demand for mobile-first approach of late with the release of mobile-first index algorithm. Put simply, if you don’t pay heed to a mobile-first approach with your design projects, your clients won’t be able to grab a spot on top of search results.

So, here goes a compact guide on how to amp up speed with mobile-first website design.

Prep up your arsenal

Prepping up the right toolkit is your first step in marching out for the mobile-first design approach.

Good thing is, there is a bevy of solutions and tools around to help you hone up the needed skills for creating the perfect mobile-focused UI. For example, Skeleton would make a great tool for small-scale website projects that need minimal compiling and fluid grids.

 Another smart tool would be Bootstrap which offers a universal solution for front-end website development for smartphones. You will get a default grid line-up, a sea of components as well as several JavaScript plugins.

The right set of tool would enable you to minimize as well as prioritize contents which are most crucial for your specific website projects. An arsenal packed with ideal tools would help to optimize site speed as well as ensure clarity with both imagery and textual content.

You can have s look at the ESPN official website here for reference. The site has been split up into easily navigable content categories which makes it a breeze to scroll through the website on mobile devices. The grid structure for videos has aptly created the environment of using tools like YouTube.

Limelight on mobile-first elements

Now, that you have got your arsenal ready, the next step is to start developing a mobile-first site from the scratch. Don’t just leap to newest design trends, the most important thing at this stage is the foundation.

So, for example, you must be aware that navigation in mobile pages is generally under hamburger button. But, you can scale up this very concept to another level as well. Please check out the Shojin official mobile website here and see how it has primarily focused on the most essential site option within its navigation bar so that users don’t feel too overwhelmed while scrolling through it.

A simplified yet functional approach

The maxim is to stress on a streamlined approach that would be both simple and functional. In other words, the website design should feature the bare essential items and also would not prevent visitors from carrying out the necessary activities while visit the site. Try to limit the amount of interactive features on the site and also make sure all those items are convenient to spot and use.

Put simply, the CTAs and buttons you use on the mobile-first website layout should be clearly visible and tappable. The fonts must be easily legible (regardless of screen size) and the navigation should be speedy and 100% simple. The rule of the thumb is to keep clickable elements at minimum 48px in height.

Responsive imagery is the lifeblood

Images render a cutting edge to a website and are handy to create an immersive experience which mere text can’t do as a whole. But, then, improper usage of image can sloth down your site big time.

While using images, be mindful about the different demands of each type of scree size in regard to images. For example, if it’s a desktop webpage, it would need images with around 1200px width.

Previously, developers used to load up an image with large resolution and embed the very same image file across every platform. That was not a sensible approach as it slowed down downloading time largely.

Count on SVG

A rather smarter approach is to have minimum 2 versions of same image- one for mobile and another for desktop page. One may try out SVG here. It’s amazingly scalable – even more compared to bitmaps. The best benefit of using SVG is the ability to churn out clickable and sharp graphic and icon across all kinds of browsing devices. Thanks to smaller size of files, your site would load up in jet speed.

The Hubspot website is the perfect example of SVG usage gone right. Intricate illustrations have always been a dominant part of Hubspot. Now, had these images been saved in PNG, they would have taken eons to load. But, since Hubspot has been smart enough to bank on SVG here, you enjoy a super speed while scrolling through the website, both on laptop and mobile.

Typography perfecto

No matter how great the images or graphics are on your website, you won’t be able to send the needed message to your site visitors if you tank the text. Put simply, right typography is a crucial part of mobile-first design; your site’s textual content should be clearly legible across mobile and other browsing devices. In other words, the typography used must be able to convey your client’s business value proposition with utmost clarity.

Clarity with typography

Your primary focus here would be easy readability with the typography. Find out typefaces which would look universally appealing across all browsing devices. Then, be careful to maintain a fine balance between the fonts used for heading and body- in accordance with the specific typography legibility demands of various browsing devices. The overall experience must be breezy and consistent while a visitor would scroll through every web page, regardless of the size of the browsing screen.

For reference, check out the official website of IMPACT. If you compare the website layout on mobile with that of desktop you will see the mobile ones feature smaller sized heading than the desktop one. Also, unlike the desktop version where the headings are above featured image, the mobile one features headings below the images. Such a smart mobile-first layout immediately creates an appealing experience for the mobile users. Then, there is the search tag which would come handy when a visitor is looking for more information than what’s displayed on the current web page. The IMPACT site also deserves kudos for ensuring easy clarity with the typography. The right typography structure would actually guide visitors natural along the web page.

Cash in on exclusive mobile-specific features

There are  certain specific features on smartphones that you won’t find with desktops. For example, smartphones would exclusively allow you make calls or send messages and so on- from the mobile browser itself. Besides, there is the “mobile” factor which allows  users to move a smartphone all around their room which is not really feasible with a bulky and wired desktop. This particular aspect especially comes handy when you have plans to use concepts like VR or AR on webpage for a more immersive experience.

So, the idea is to capitalize these exclusive capabilities of smartphone to churn out a unique user experience for mobile site visitors. In fact, you might even focus on building a mobile app for the website which mobile users can easily download in their phones.

The takeaway

A responsive site which works on desktop and mobile devices both seems to be the order of the day. But, with number of mobile users on rise, a website with mobile-first approach will always have an upper-hand in the current market.

The most fundamental thing that you need to follow with website design and development today is to put maximum focus on experience of smartphone users primarily. That way, your website will be able to garner more attention which would eventually take the site on top of SERPs. Ad of course, your mastery in mobile-first design approach would also be your trump card in the job market.

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