What We Mean by “Mobile First”

You may be hearing a lot of people in the marketing world these days making use of the phrase, “mobile first”. We’re guilty of using it right here in a set of recent blog posts:

Mobile First Email Design & Mobile First Web Design

But what do we mean when we say “mobile first”?

We mean developing something first for mobile devices, and then making sure it also suits your needs on desktops and laptops, and not the other way around.

Sounds simple enough, right? But for most people this does not come naturally. Whole generations of people grew up in an age when the mobile web did not exist, or was still just coming of age. So when we are designing something for the web, we think of desktops. We automatically “see” the online world through a big monitor-shaped window.

But the mobile web is here. It’s growing rapidly. For many people, it’s the primary way they access the web. For many companies, it makes up more than 50% of total site traffic.

So in a mobile-first world, we need mobile-first design. When your designer begins to mock up a new page, or form, or tool, or ad for the web, they should do it on a phone-sized template. Design it for a phone, then adapt it for larger screens. It’s the only way to change how you think about your consumers and the way they are actually using the web.

And that’s necessary in order to create online experiences that really resonate with today’s audiences and consumers.