What is the difference between mobile-first website design and responsive website design? Which is right for your business? To find answers to these questions, you need to know who your audience is, how they interact with your website. Are they predominantly viewed using mobile devices or desktop? How fast is their internet connection? How do you want the user experience on your website to reflect your Branding strategy? Once you have answers to these questions, you will be a step closer to making an informed decision on which design is best for your new website.
Mobile-First Vs. Responsive
These two concepts have been getting tossed around by many people mistakenly believing they are one and the same. Well...They are not. While both concepts have mobile in-mind, they conceptually are the opposite.
Mobile-first design is similar to designing a mobile app. All of the layout and functionality is designed 100% for mobile and then scaled up to be viewed nicely on tablets and desktop devices without much change. The key focuses include excellent mobile-user experience, fast loading times, touch screen centric interactions, and so on.
Responsive design, on the other hand, starts on the desktop and then scales down to the smallest screen; mobile. While some websites are responsive and able to scale down the content to fit on smartphones, their core content and mobile speeds are geared more for desktop. However, with smarter design and optimization, responsive design can also be built to perform well on mobile devices in 2020.
Why Mobile-First Website Design
Traditionally, Mobile-First designs make perfect sense when more than 75% of your website visitors are viewing through mobile devices. The mobile-first design makes their user-experience optimized and flawless to interact with on their smartphones. As more and more smartphone features get integrated into mobile browsers, you can elevate their experience by using smartphone features like camera, haptic feedback, voice detection, and so on.
Why Responsive Website Design
Traditionally, responsive design is more common among B2B companies where their website design provided a lot of content. Furthermore, B2B audiences tend to visit more using desktop devices, and being able to use full features the desktop design offers makes more sense. Also, it proves to be great for SEO due to more content.
Mobile-First or Responsive: Which to choose?
This decision is easy yet a complicated one when thinking about the bigger picture. Yes, if 90% of your target audience is on mobile devices, then Mobile-First website design with a strong SEO strategy is the right choice.
The reality is that in most cases, at least more than 75% of target audiences will be from mobile devices in 2020. But with smarter responsive designs being able to provide a great user experience on mobile devices as well as desktop devices, a responsive design may be the better route to take due to better SEO and its effectiveness on both devices.
However, be cautious that the responsive design is mobile-focused with mobile optimizations. There are many WordPress themes and developers out there who claim to provide responsive design, but all they do is scale the site down to fit on smartphones and does not offer great mobile user-experience.
In conclusion, take into consideration what device your target audience is viewing your website on, your branding strategy, what goals you want to achieve through your website, and future trends. I bring up future trends, because with rising home-offices due to the pandemic, desktop viewership may increase again.