Oct 26, 2020

. UI UXs .

3 min read

Difference Between Mobile-first and Mobile-Responsive Design

Along with the times, the internet landscape has changed a lot, with mobile devices coming to the fore.

Along with the times, the internet landscape has changed a lot, with mobile devices coming to the fore. According to data from Google, around 68,000,000 searches happen in the world every hour, only via mobile devices. 70% of travelers search online via mobile devices.

Therefore, marketers must adapt to the fact that mobile users are now a force to be reckoned with. Successful marketing methods need to make applications, websites, digital services, and products mobile-friendly. And there are two ways of doing that: mobile-first and mobile-Responsive. The following section talks about their differences, pros and cons and which is more suitable for marketers.

Mobile-first Vs Mobile-Responsive:
  • Mobile-first is a kind of design strategy.
  • Mobile-responsive design is more comprehensive and the result of a technical approach.
First things first: Desktop-first:

Websites were generally created to be desktop-friendly, expecting the users to browse from a computer-based ecosystem. Later on, the same website undergoes several modifications that allow it to be browsed across different platforms like tablets or smartphones. This graceful degradation strategy is known as desktop-first. The downside to it is that many visual aspects do not adapt properly to mobile devices when re-optimized from desktops.

Mobile-First Design: Why and How?

Mobile-first is a progressive enhancement strategy that combats this problem. Under this designing arrangement, websites are designed for the smallest possible device and then it is scaled upwards for desktop viewing.

This concept was designed by Luke Wroblewski, who suggested that mobile-design should be core to any design strategy, which in turn, should account for the constraints and behavioral tendencies of mobile device browsing.

This approach may prove to be challenging for design teams who are used to designing for desktops. A mobile-first strategy requires the content to be categorized based upon importance. The overall design must also be refined likewise. As for the users browsing through desktops, additional content may later be added.

Mobile-Responsive Design: Why and How?

Mobile-responsive web design isn't just responsive to mobile devices but to all kinds of devices. This refers to the fact that the website, in this case, is designed to be automatically adjusted based upon the size of screens being used.

Whether a website is responsive or not can be manually determined by zooming in and out of the browser window.

Perks of responsive design lie with the fact that ease of browsing remains the same across different ecosystems and devices. Therefore, only one website is required, whose content and layout change based upon the width of the browser or device involved. The content and user interface gets adapted so that the concerned website can be seamlessly visited on any device or browser.

Under such circumstances, two versions of the same website are not needed.


In the end, a marketer needs to ask him-/herself the following questions:

  • Does the concerned clientele majorly use mobile devices for web browsing?
  • Does the concerned clientele majorly prefer searching the internet on computers or on mobile devices?

If the preference of the clientele tips towards mobile devices, then it is for sure that the marketer requires to opt for a design strategy that is mobile-first. If not, then a mobile-responsive strategy might just work.

It is important to remember visitors/clientele do not initially distinguish between website design, based on whether it is an adaptive, responsive, or mobile-first website.

What matters more for the visitors is that the websites should enable them to quickly and easily find the required information as well as let them perform the necessary actions or goals they have in mind. To end this discussion then, it is best for the designers to adopt a consumer-first strategy, by first mapping down the target consumer mindset and requirements.


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