Mobile-Friendly vs. Mobile-First: Which one is better?

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Paula Mendes
Paula Mendes

Mobile-Friendly vs. Mobile-First: Which one is better?

In 2016, for the first time in history, the use of mobile devices to access the internet surpassed desktop access. This fact highlights the growing importance of having a Mobile-Friendly or Mobile-First approach to respond more efficiently to the increasing use of smartphones for online information consumption.

Did you know that about 92.3% of users access the Internet through their cell phones?

Although previously the computer was the most used device to search for information or even to make online purchases, in the current digital landscape, mobile is the master of the internet, with a perspective to represent 44% of all online sales until 2024. 

It's very simple, look at your own behavior, what device did you use to make your last online purchase or to search for information quickly?

Read on to find out more about Mobile-Friendly and Mobile-First approaches and the advantages associated with each!

Mobile-friendy Website

This is by no means a foreign concept to most people working with online businesses. The increasing use of smartphones has forced website developers and graphic designers to create versions of websites that are optimized for mobile devices. 

Mobilde-friendly refers to a responsive website that adapts to all types of devices. These are typically websites developed for larger screens, where elements are altered through styling techniques to fit the size of the screen on which they will be viewed. They are not websites with an excellent user experience on smartphones, since this is not the main concern behind their design. 

Among the advantages of this approach, we can highlight:

  • Versatility - as they adapt to different screen sizes and devices, allowing businesses to reach wider audiences without the need for device-specific customization.
  • Cost efficiency - adapting a website from desktop to mobile typically involves less time and cost compared to creating a website or app from scratch.
  • SEO benefit - one of the key factors taken into account by search engines is the responsiveness of the website on mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly website increases the chances of it appearing at the top of search results (SERP's) leading to increased visibility and organic traffic.

Mobile-first website

A mobile-first website is always responsive, but a responsive website is not always mobile first.

The mobile-first approach, as the name suggests, is to design the website first for mobile devices and then scale it to larger screens. This concept depends on the type of website you are developing, whether it is more oriented to mobile devices and to improve the user experience on those devices, focusing on understanding how people interact with mobile devices.

In this way, the mobile-first design pays special attention to everything that is clickable. Buttons and hyperlinked sections are larger and list items are more widely spaced, content is simpler, to make life easier for those who use smartphones to access the site. 

Among the advantages of this approach, we can highlight:

  • Improved mobile experience, by focusing primarily on designing for mobile, businesses are able to optimize the user experience, specifically for those accessing via mobile. This approach emphasizes simplicity, intuitive navigation, and faster loading times, improving engagement and conversions.
  • Improved performance, this approach is usually associated with a simpler, more efficient website structure, forcing companies to focus on the essentials, reducing page size, and optimizing load times. 
  • To prepare for the future, as the use of mobile devices increases, it is essential to adopt approaches that focus on these devices, allowing companies to increase their effectiveness. By prioritizing the unique characteristics of mobile devices, organizations will be able to stay ahead of the curve and prepare their digital presence for the future.

But what's better, Mobile-Friendly or Mobile-First?

When it comes to choosing between these two approaches, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

The choice is dependent on several factors such as audience, market, and business objectives. However, given the rapid growth in mobile device usage, it is essential that companies optimize their websites to be accessed via mobile.

While the mobile-friendly approach offers greater versatility and cost benefits, the mobile-first approach, on the other hand, provides an enhanced mobile experience and future-proofing advantages.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on understanding your users' preferences, their behaviors, and the specific needs that your business will address.

The key is to know very well who is going to use your website and for what!

In some developing countries, where fixed internet infrastructure is less developed, people tend to use mobile devices more often to access the internet. This has resulted in the emergence of the term "Mobile-Only" to describe this reality. 

An example of the implementation of this concept in social reality is Instagram. This social network was developed for exclusive use on cell phones and is only now being thought of for desktops.

To be successful in the current landscape, where there is a clear preference of users for mobile devices, it is essential to invest in a responsive design that provides an optimized response to users' needs. 

Whether you opt for a mobile-friendly or mobile-first design, the end goal should always be the same: to provide a good user experience across all devices.

If you are interested in finding out more about the world of websites, we recommend that you complement your reading with our blog article: Fun and Fascinating Facts about Websites.

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