Experts Blog

First Things First

  • Lorenzo Mutti

About five years ago Ethan Marcotte first talked about “responsive web design workflow”, and one year before that, Luke Wroblewski published his book entitled “mobile first”. Since then we have seen many discussions and experiments on this topic, much has been refuted and confirmed. Today “mobile first” and “responsive web design” are on everyone’s lips.

While “responsive web design” is generally understood and currently regarded as a standard for cross-device online presences, the situation is a bit different in the case of “mobile first” – this term is understood and used in ways that are diverse to say the least. “Mobile first” can be a design approach but also a strategy for content delivery through various channels. Currently “mobile first” seems to be a mantra for web design.

Reduction to the Essentials

According to the “mobile first” approach, one should start with developing a website for devices with a small display and low bandwidth. Website content is in the foreground – nothing changes here – but it is optimised for use on smart phones, which inevitably involves refining such content. This strategy has an additional positive effect on the structure depth, thanks to which clear and easily understandable navigation structures are created. Finally, the desktop version benefits from this procedure too, but web designers increasingly often feel that they are faced with the challenging task of reducing the content to the essentials and at the same time working out enough differentiating features.

Experience shows that “mobile first” as design principle does not always yield the assumed outcome, namely the achievement of a goal in a more efficient way and with the desired independence. It should be examined whether you want to expand from small to large in the design process and you approach it consciously from the other side, i.e. start from the larger “view port.” In this way designers are given more room to deliver brand identity in a surprising and user-oriented manner. The advantage is reduced content and simplified structure resulting from the “mobile first” strategy.

«Mobile First» means «User First»

Nowadays if you compare digital presences which were consistently executed in accordance with the “mobile first” principle, they do not always accomplish the goal of being sufficiently innovative and different from one another.

Finally «mobile first» means also «content first», «context first» and once again «user first», that is meeting customer requirements on each device in each situation.