Previously, software was created with desktop computing in mind, with mobile access viewed as an optional addition. However, with smartphones and other mobile devices accounting for about more than 50% of global online traffic, designers and developers are increasingly adopting a mobile-first approach. Does this article explain what is mobile first design? We will proceed to discuss the mobile first design strategy and its significance in product development.

What exactly is “mobile-first”?

Mobile first design strategy is an approach to web and app development that puts mobile device users at the center of their development strategy. As the proportion of mobile users grows, designers are focusing on mobile devices as their “main platform” for digital products. This means that the entire mobile first design process is focused on the small touchscreen, with customized versions for desktop, laptop, and other ‘big screen’ devices following.

It all started – or, at least, the use of the term “mobile first” began – in 2010 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, when Google CEO Eric Schmidt remarked that designers should work with a mobile-first mindset. This makes excellent sense, not just because of the surge in mobile users, but also because constructing something “little” and then extending for a larger configuration is more logical, and possibly easier, than the opposite.

To better understand the concept of the mobile first design, you should first be familiar with the two phrases listed below.

1. Responsive Web Design (RWD) | Web and App Development

Responsive web design is a web design strategy that allows websites to automatically adapt to the screens of various devices, showing content in a way that consumers find comfortable. This significantly reduces user operations such as panning, zooming, and scrolling while browsing the web.

2. “Graceful Degradation” and “Progressive Advancement”

These two ideas were proposed before responsive web design. Designers produce modified versions of products for diverse ends to make online or application interfaces display adequately on multiple devices.

Progressive advancement

Progressive advancement means that when we construct a product, we first create a version for the lesser browsers (like that on a mobile phone). This version includes only the most fundamental functions and features. Following that, we move on to the advanced version for a tablet or PC, which is made by enhancing the basic version with interactions, more complex effects, and so on for a better user experience.

Graceful Degradation

“Graceful Degradation,” on the other hand, begins the product design from an advanced end, such as a desktop, and produces a version with well-rounded features from the start. The product is then made mobile-friendly by removing some functionality or contents.

As the name implies, “mobile first design strategy” indicates that we begin the product design process with the mobile end, which has fewer constraints and then enhance its functionality to build a tablet or desktop version.

Best practices and ideas for mobile-first design

What exactly does a mobile first designer do? What factors contribute to a mobile-first development strategy? The following are the major features of mobile first design, in no particular order:

Keep the process user-centric – This applies whether you’re designing for desktop or mobile, although we’re focusing on mobile users here. Consider which design elements will be useful to them, make their life easier, and address their difficulties.

A concise content hierarchy – With a reduced screen size, it is critical to keep content to the point. Content should be presented in a logical order, with titles at the top and a preview option. The idea is to make it clear to the user what is available and where it is available without being too detailed or too large.

Clear CTAs – Calls to action should be consistent in design, difficult to overlook, and simple to click.

Avoid pop-ups – On a mobile device, pop-ups are more than just potentially annoying to the user; they can also block out much or all of the screen, giving users another incentive to abandon your site.

Consider loading speed – slow-loading websites lose visitors quickly, and by “slow,” we mean anything more than three seconds. Cut out everything extraneous, compress photos, and use ‘lazy loading’ to improve loading performance. It’s a technique in which website elements (other than the main content) load in the order of importance.

Test in real-world settings – Testing is a vital element of any digital development process, and testing your design with real users in real-world settings is the only way to know if you’re meeting your mobile first design goals and identifying priorities for change or augmentation. Perform testing on a variety of platforms, devices, and browsers

Why Is the “Mobile First” Principle Important in Product Design?

Aside from the above-mentioned success of progressive progression against graceful deterioration, we have more concrete grounds to assume that the mobile-first approach is vital in product design. That is, mobile usage is skyrocketing.

  1. In 2016, mobile internet usage exceeded desktop internet usage.
  2. From mobile ends, people are spending an increasing amount of time on the internet.
  3. Smartphone sales surpassed PC sales early in 2012.

The explosion of mobile ends forces designers to pay attention to the mobile end and build products with the “mobile first” rule in mind.

How to Put the “mobile first design strategy” Rule into Action in Product Design

The content-centered thinking is the key to the mobile first design strategy. The following section will show how a product progresses from a mobile phone to a PC. Let’s create a hotel booking application. We begin by categorizing the site’s material by importance:

  • Domain name
  • Hotel (Domestic Hotel, Foreign Hotel, Hour Room, Special Hotel)
  • Time switch (check-in time, departure time)
  • My Purchase
  • Customer care
  • Marketing and advertising

Mockplus was used to create the Hotel Booking App

The most significant information is domestic, foreign hotels, and time selections. They are in the most visible portion of the interface. We get a desktop version by adding more capabilities to the mobile version and expanding the promotion and advertising displaying area.

Furthermore, while using the mobile first design strategy for various websites or mobile apps, designers may rapidly begin with a useful prototype tool to test their design promptly, identifying and resolving any issues early on. Designers may construct a product for numerous purposes in a fluid and efficient manner this way, rather than mercilessly deleting good features to get an afterthought.


In brief, the “mobile first design strategy” idea is critical in product design. For both web and app development you need to focus on this strategy to yield maximum result. On the one hand, it reduces product design time and increases designer productivity. On the other hand, it compels designers to pay more attention to a product’s content, allowing them to produce tidy and useful designs.

However, as cellphones get more powerful, the mobile end may no longer be deemed “lower ends” in the near future, therefore the “move first” topic may no longer be relevant. However, for the time being, its importance in product design cannot be overstated.