Mobile-first web design

Pandemic to endemic

The UK’s 5.5 million small businesses (under 50 employees) account for 48 % of all employment in the country (around 13 million people) with a combined turnover of £1.6 trillion (36% of all turnover). Of these 5.5 million small businesses, around 35% do not have a website. In March 2020 the whole world went online.

Mobile-first web design
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Some stats

The reasons given by companies without a website include some feel their operation is too small to have one (35%), others say ‘they do not need one’ (41%). Other reasons include cost, the irrelevance to their sector, and conducting business via social media. However, in 2020 81% of all online traffic was via mobile phones, which includes social media interaction, and in the UK the split between desktop and portable devices is around 47/53 percent respectively (source).

Disregarding the companies who think a website is not for them (this is arguable) 92% of small business owners who do have a website regard it as the most effective vehicle for its online digital strategy. And with the dominance of mobile phones over desktop and laptop computers for online activity mobile-friendly websites are incredibly important.

Do you need a mobile-friendly website?

Yes. Undoubtedly. But whether the design of the mobile version of your website takes precedence over desktop version depends entirely on the kind of business you own, and what devices your visitors are using to visit you. If you look at a snapshot of our recent stats, you can see that the majority of visitors come to our website via desktop – over double the visits from mobile devices. This is simply because the type of people who need our services are office based. If you were to look at stats for a restaurant these figures would be reversed.


Mobile-first web design

What is mobile-first web design?

Usually there are four website layouts to consider when designing: HD desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Mobile-first design involves creating the design for the smartphone first and then working up to full HD desktop. This is a reversal of the way things used to be done. As smartphones began to take off properly about ten years ago, mobile versions of a website became a requirement but were regarded as a necessary add-on, rather than been given equal importance. Now smartphones are embedded in our habits and lifestyles, mobile-first web design has become a consideration at the start of a project.

So, desktop or mobile first?

Both are important and a website should give the user an equally good experience on all devices. However, ascertaining who your website visitors are and what devices they are using is key. If your planned website project is your first site, some market research will need to be done into your target demographic. If your new site is a redevelopment, looking at device stats of your old website in Google Analytics (as above) is useful information to decide which way round to begin the design process. The last two years have shown a marked increase in mobile phone usage for web browsing as people have been working more from home (away from the boss’ eyes!), even for things like Zoom and MS Teams, and generally spending more time online due to lockdowns. Habits tend to stick.

When we launched our new site in January 2022, we began with the desktop site and worked downwards to smartphone because the majority of our visitors use desktops and laptops. A redevelopment of a restaurant website we did before Christmas had a majority share of visitors coming via mobile, so, mobile design first and work up to desktop.

If you need any more information about mobile-first website design, or ascertaining what devices your web visitors are using, please get in touch and we’ll be able to help.

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