In a world with so many different types of devices, IOS and browsers, and constraints, having a responsive website design gives the user the control to navigate a website more easily & faster. It’s important to give more accessibility to your site because search engines like Google measure the responsiveness of a website as a performance metric, thus giving more authority to sites with better responsiveness.
What is mobile-first?
In order to make sense of responsive design, you have to understand the concept of mobile-first. The term was first used by Luke Wroblewski in his book Mobile First published in 2011. Wroblewski said that when he started designing interfaces, he realized that many people were accessing the internet through their phones. He began working on a strategy to create websites that were optimized for this smaller screen size and quicker connection speed. This way of thinking became known as mobile-first, and it was widely adopted by many other designers and companies who followed suit.
As web design evolved, more people began using tablets and laptops to browse the internet, and app stores made it convenient for users to download applications for their phones instead of using the browsers on their devices.
A responsive design makes a website optimized for any screen size, from a tiny smartphone to a gigantic computer monitor. It enables websites to incorporate both the desktop and the mobile experience, creating a fluid user experience that is intuitive and easy to use no matter what device your visitor is using, or what size screen they are viewing from.
Why is it important?
Google ranking performance
Mobile-first is an important strategy because Google is clearly taking steps to favor sites that have been built with this method. Google announced in 2015 that mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches in number, and it's likely that trend will continue as more and more people replace their desktop computers with tablets and smartphones.
When you build a site that's mobile-first, it's not only better for Google's rankings, but also for users. As a result, people will stick around longer on your website and they'll find what they're looking for more quickly. It also makes your site easier to navigate and reduces the risk of confusion or frustration if people are visiting sites on their mobile devices.
People spend more time on mobile
The internet has changed a lot from the days when we used to only surf the Web on desktop computers. Today, we're using our smartphones just as much, if not more than, the computers that once were our primary source for browsing the web and managing our lives online.
First of all, there are now more mobile devices in use than there are people in the United States. That means there are plenty of mobile opportunities for businesses to reach their customers through apps or online stores. There's also the issue of phone usage in general. Americans, in particular, spend an average of 2 hours and 54 minutes on their phone daily. Not only are they spending more time on their phones, but they're using them for increasingly complex tasks.
More accessibility for impaired people
According to the most recent Pew Research Center study, nearly three in ten adults (29%) have some type of disability that affects how they can access or interact with digital devices or the internet. Two-thirds of these adults (66%) say that their disability makes them less likely to go online than other adults.
For these users, using devices like smartphones and tablets becomes a struggle because they're unable to read the text on the screen without some kind of reading assistance technology.
It's important that designers keep this in mind when creating mobile products. Mobile-first design cycles are a great way to start considering accessibility early on in the design process. For example, many visually impaired and blind individuals use screen readers to interpret what's on the screen (particularly if they use assistive technology like a mouse). These programs read out loud what's on the screen in real-time. But if there are too many links or distractions, the user's experience can be significantly affected, and they may not even be able to get to the information they're looking for. It is then important for the mobile-first design to address these constraints.
A Memorable User Experience
When you design mobile-first, you're thinking about the smallest screen size first and then expanding outward for larger sizes. Mobile-first helps you stay focused on your users' needs. Research has shown that people have certain expectations when using a mobile device, so when those expectations are met, they feel comfortable using that device and investing in it.
If you want to provide your customers with a great experience, focusing on how they will interact with your site on their phones will help you create a more memorable one.
A memorable experience creates trust, and trust creates loyalty. Not only will more people visit your site if they had a good experience when they were last there, but they will feel confident that you care enough about them and keep coming to your business back again and again.
Responsive web design is a simple and cost-effective solution that scales as technology and bandwidth evolve. The user interface can be tailored to fit the needs and limits of the platform, eliminating geographical boundaries and device constraints. Mobile-first design establishes the foundation for a responsive web design because it forces us to reconsider how we present the same content across various devices. It establishes a good practice for developing websites that are built for the future.