Build Websites for Mobile First

Build Websites for All Devices

Earlier this week I wrote a controversial piece about responsive website design that brought the ire of professionals within my industry and a flood of emails calling me all sorts of names. Yes, there were those who agreed as well, but they were the minority.

In retrospect, I sold out. I looked at the data, saw how responsive websites were not performing very well on mobile devices in industries that were heavy on data, and came to the conclusion that adaptive was a better solution for some. I stand by that statement based upon practicality, but there’s an addendum to that answer: if you want to do the absolute best practice possible, it would be to build your website from mobile up rather than from PC down.

It’s always easier to make a site more complex than to simplify it. Adding features is simply easier than taking them away. If you build your websites with the following three ideas in mind, you have the greatest chance for success:

  1. Mobile is huge and getting huger. Assume that your website will be accessed as much if not more on mobile devices in the near future than on big screens.
  2. People love mobile designs because they’re used to them. If a website displayed on a PC operates much the same as it would on a mobile device, it will perform better. That’s not to say that you need to sacrifice design or make your website look amateur on a big screen, but strive to make it “mobilesque”.
  3. Touchscreen functionality and the art of scrolling rather than clicking is becoming more of a “thing” for desktop websites. Keep that in mind when you build pages.

If you take into account how your website will load, operate, and perform on mobile devices and build up from there, you will find that your overall website performance will improve. The problem with responsive websites in some industries is that they cram as much as they can to fill out the big screen and then it looks terrible and performs poorly on the small screen. Work from the small screen up and the website will do better regardless of the device.

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