What is Mobile-First Design and Why It’s Now So Important

More and more website designers are choosing to design “Mobile-First”. In the past, it was common for designers to create and optimize the desktop/laptop version of a website design first. Once that has been completed, they would then turn their attention to the mobile version of the design.

One downside to doing this is that priority is essentially given to desktop/laptop users. Unfortunately, many design elements and functionality that are optimized for desktop computers and laptops do not transfer well to the mobile version of the design.

The growing importance of mobile designs has contributed to many designers following a “Mobile-First” strategy with their designs.

In this article, I would like to talk about why it is now so important to do this.

Mobile Internet Usage is Increasing Every Day

Mobile internet usage continues to grow every day. Some of the statistics about mobile usage from online stats service Statistic is astounding. Their latest mobile report states that:

  • 45% of organic search engine visits in the USA came from mobiles
  • 93 million people use Facebook mobile in the USA and 109 million people use the Facebook mobile app
  • 34% of product searches on eCommerce websites come from mobile devices
  • They predict that in 2017 “more than 90 percent of internet users will access online content through their phones”

Similar statistics is available from other services. They all illustrate that mobile internet usage is increasing every single day and will continue to do so over the next few years.

Graph: Mobile phone internet user penetration worldwide from 2012 to 2017

Mobile phone internet user penetration worldwide from 2012 to 2017

Like it or not, you can no longer consider mobile design as an after thought. In 2015, if you want to optimize your website for your visitors, you need to ensure their mobile experience is functional and enjoyable.

You Will Focus on Core Functionality

When you are creating a design for a mobile screen, you have a lot less screen space to work with. You cannot add many of the cool design elements and bells and whistles that you could for a larger screen.

This forces you to focus on what is important i.e. core functionality. Unnecessary items that do not enhance the user experience are therefore eliminated.



Designers who have adopted mobile-first believe that this design process is more practical as when you design the mobile version of your website design first, you are not faced with difficult decisions over what elements need to be removed. All you need to do is focus on creating a great user experience.

Mobile-Friendly Websites Now Rank Higher

Last month Google rolled out their mobile-friendly update. This update affects the search engine rankings of websites in mobile search results.

It affects all languages in the world and is applied on a page by page basis, not a website by website basis. This means that mobile-friendly areas of your website will not be penalized if other pages on your website are not optimized for mobile devices.

Google Mobile-Friendly Update

Google states that pages that have not been optimized for mobile devices can still rank well if they have high-quality content. However, the message from Google is crystal clear: Website owners need to cater their websites to mobile users. If they do not, they are going to see a huge drop in search engine traffic from mobile users.

Final Thoughts

If you have been designing websites for years, you have inevitably got used to creating new designs in a specific way. I can, therefore, empathize with those of you who are reluctant to change the way they work. However, this is a step you will inevitably have to take at one point due to the importance of mobile traffic.

To find out more about mobile-first designing, I recommend checking out Luke Wroblewski’s book Mobile First.

Non-designers who are curious as to whether their current website designs are mobile-friendly should enter their URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

Thanks for reading.


About the Author

Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about internet marketing on his personal blog and on the internet marketing discussion forum Rise Forums.

1 Comment
  • Daniel Keith /June 29, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Hi Kevin,
    Great post. While creating a website it very important to consider a mobile design first, as more than 70% of the web users are surfing internet through smartphones.

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