Just a few short years ago, if your website was mobile friendly, you were were ahead of the curve. Mobile friendly probably meant that a designed-for-desktop site “gracefully degraded” to accommodate smaller, mobile screens. In other words, an ersatz version of your website shrunk to fit your phone and it worked just well enough. Or, quite possibly, a dubiously branded website with its own URL was cobbled together to fit the basic needs of mobile users.

Let’s face it, well enough and dubiously designed isn’t good enough anymore.

Reason 1:
Mobile first design forces you to focus on core content and critical needs.

Reason 2:
Mobile friendly website design is so important that Google has started to boost the rankings of websites that are mobile friendly. Which means, essentially, that your site is being penalized if it’s not mobile first or responsive.

Reason 3:
It seems as though no two screens are the same size these days. While large screens are today’s big deal, the next iPhone is going small again so your website really needs to be a flexible one-size-fits all to meet the needs of today’s fickle users of technology.

Reason 4:
With mobile use leading the pack and on the rise, the new design standard is “progressive enhancement,” which translates to designing for mobile devices first and scaling up (in content, design and functionality) to fit larger devices and computers. This aspirational approach to development and design makes solid sense. Although there are still plenty of professionals tethered to desktops, their numbers are shrinking. Mobile searches left desktops in the dust a year ago, so if your website wasn’t designed with mobile viewing in mind, it’s time for an overhaul.

Mobile First Web Design

So it’s clear that you need it, but what exactly is it? Way back in 2011, Luke Wroblewski coined the term “mobile first” in direct response to dated web design created exclusively for the desktop/laptop PC. Now, websites are designed with the mobile user experience in mind and website designers and marketing professionals are thinking in new, creative and adaptive ways.

The notion is simple: design for users. And let’s face it, mobile network speeds are increasingly zippy which means your users are more and more mobile. Mobile first is both a strong design decision and a new way of writing code.

Implementation can be a bit trickier, but liberating. If your business or organization hasn’t taken the mobile first plunge yet, there’s no time like the present. Take a hard look at your company, product and services. Now, think about your buyers, stakeholders and target audience. Consider what these various personas need to know and want to know when they visit your website. Cut to the chaff, keep it simple and deliver the essential information.

Obviously, planning the design of a mobile first website is vastly different for a cellphone than for desktop, and modern website design keeps user experience and user interface front of mind. Designers accomplish all of this by delivering the most relevant content first, addressing critical questions succinctly, using clear typefaces that look as terrific on a cell phone as they do on desktop, thinking about how users interact with a site and making sure the most important data is the data that’s accessible.

Responsive Website Design

Responsive Website Design (RWD) is a mobile first approach to website development that prizes ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing across devices. Fluid, fluent, modern and flexible are adjectives often used to described RWD sites.

Try this: grab the right corner edge of this browser window. Start shrinking it to tablet size. Now shrink it to the size of a cell phone. You’re still reading, right? The words are clear, the font is adaptable and the navigation remains clear and easy to scroll, right? That’s mobile first responsive web design.

Great designers, developers and content specialists help clients figure out what their buyers are looking for, how their users want the information and then deliver that content.

For other important modern website design tips and tricks, download our free 25 Website Essentials To Create A Converstion Machine eBook below.