5 keys to nailing mobile-first web design

Alice  Parsons
posted by Alice
5 keys to nailing mobile-first web design

According to Zippia, around 4.97 billion people worldwide access the internet with their mobile devices - about 90% of all global internet users. That's a lot of people scrolling, tapping, and swiping their way through the net!

With such a huge percentage, it only makes sense to design your website with mobile devices in mind. Overlooking mobile optimisation can cause you to miss out on a massive audience, as well as the potential conversions, sales, and revenue that comes with it. 

And that’s not all - Google also prioritises mobile-friendly sites in its search engine rankings. If your website isn't mobile-friendly, it might not show up in search results, making it harder for users to find you. 

At b4b Marketing, we know all about the importance of great web design. Below, we delve into the fundamentals of mobile-first design and outline the 5 most critical components to include in your site’s layout. So, let's dive in! 

What is mobile-first web design? 

Mobile-first web design is just that: an approach to website design that puts mobile users at the forefront. Instead of designing for desktops first and scaling down, it focuses on designing for mobile devices first and scaling up. By adopting this approach, businesses can improve the overall user experience, increase engagement, and ultimately drive better results. 

How do you optimise your website for mobile devices? 

1. Design a mobile-friendly layout 

Before you start creating images and copy, you need to know where it’s all going to go. Mobile screens are small, so avoid cluttering your website with unnecessary elements and focus on providing a clear straightforward user experience. If your users have to squint to understand what you’re trying to say, it won’t be long before they give up and switch to a different website. 

2. Make speed a priority 

Speed is key to a high-performing mobile website - indeed, a staggering 85% of mobile users expect web pages to load as quickly as, if not faster than, they do on desktops. 

To boost the speed at which your website loads, you should: 

  • Compress images, videos, and other media 
  • Minimise HTTP requests 
  • Use browser caching 
  • Compare hosting providers and choose the one that offers the fastest server response times 
  • Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a technology that allows mobile pages to load almost instantly 

3. Simplify navigation 

Because they need to be shown on a small, vertical screen, mobile sites can’t follow the typical Z-pattern visual hierarchy. Instead, focus on keeping your navigation menu simple and easy to use. Use clear, concise labels and avoid using too many levels of submenus. The simpler the menu, the easier it is for users to navigate. 

Icons can be a great way to save space on your website, as they’re much smaller than text. Just make sure you use icons that are universally recognised and represent the function of the link or button. Too many icons can clutter the screen, so don’t go overboard! 

4. Design for touchscreens 

Most mobile devices rely on touch interaction, either from a finger or a pen, which can be a lot less precise than using a mouse. Users may accidentally tap on the wrong link or have difficulty scrolling, leading to frustration and decreased usability. To avoid this, you should: 

  • Use large, touch-friendly buttons, and avoid relying on hover-based interactions. 
  • Make sure each element has enough whitespace around it. When elements are too close together, users can find it hard to tap on the intended item without accidentally selecting surrounding elements. 
  • Implement navigation options such as a hamburger menu or a series of icons instead of drop-down menus. Drop-down menus can be difficult to use on mobile devices, as they require more precise tapping than mobiles allow. 
  • Limit the use of pop-ups, or design them to be easily closed with a tap outside of the pop-up window. 
  • Incorporate touch-friendly gestures, such as swiping and pinch-to-zoom, to make navigation more intuitive. Be careful not to rely on them too heavily, as not all users may be familiar with them. 

5. Test, test, test! 

Finally, it’s time to put your optimisations to practise! Test your website on multiple mobile devices to make sure the user experience is consistent across all devices. You don't want your website looking great on an iPhone but terrible on an Android. Don’t forget to test on tablets and - of course - desktop devices, too. 

Talk to our web design specialists

So there you have it: 5 of the most important things to consider when designing a mobile-first website. It seems simple, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it - from designing website elements to optimising your database queries, there’s plenty to keep on top of. 
At b4b, we have years of experience doing just that. We’ve created mobile-first websites for companies in all sectors, always prioritising speed, reliability, and user friendliness. Sprinkle in some high-quality content and effective Search Engine Optimisation, and you’ve got yourself a website to be proud of. 
Why not chat to our team about your website? We’d love to explain how we can improve your online presence, so don’t hesitate to get in touch online or call us on 01202 684400. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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