Ask anyone who knows a little about web design what are the most crucial aspects to keep in mind and you can bet that the phrase “mobile first” will be uttered within a matter of 10 seconds or so.
We all know that smartphones are ubiquitous, that people use them as much as, or even more than their laptops to go online, and that your site needs to work across multiple platforms. Or do we?
It is as easily said as those multiplication tables you learned at school, but it is not till you take a step back and really think about the world around you that you realize just how important mobile optimization is.
Our conduit to the world
Your smartphone has all the answers, from the mundane to the life-changing From checking the weather forecast to ordering a take-out to renew your auto insurance to answering your four-year-old’s random question about dinosaurs, you turn to your smartphone numerous times every day in every facet of your life.
And this is only the beginning. Voice-activated devices like the Amazon Echo were heralded as the new big thing, but the reality is that the same technology can be packaged within your smartphone to become just an additional area of functionality. The same applies to Virtual Reality headsets, to wearable technology such as Fitbit, or to IoT technology where you can remotely control everything from your household lighting to the TV.
The truth is that every technical innovation only serves to increase our reliance on our smartphones and make them even more like an extension of our very selves.
Mobile first is fundamental
Once you fully appreciate just how enormous role smartphones play in our lives, you see that when it comes to web design, mobile optimization is more than an important factor to consider. When you review this independent assessment of the best 10 website builders, for example, you need to think mobile-first first, and everything else second.
A 2017 survey by Deloitte concluded that we are “glued to our smartphones.” While the popular media might throw its hands up in horror and say that we need to change our habits, this is simply not going to happen. We are already fundamentally attached to our phones in a way that has never quite been the case with other devices such as PCs and tablets.
Perhaps it is because a phone is, at heart a communication device. It is our way of keeping in touch with friends and family, and of sharing news. This is not a tool we are going to part with, and while another tech might come and go, the mobile phone is here to stay.
Most telling of all is the fact that many sites and apps are going beyond mobile-first to mobile-only, and abandoning desktop entirely for the world of mobile apps. The wisdom of that is open to debate, and it is certainly arguable that there is still a place for the desktop.
However, any site that believes it can survive optimized for desktop alone has more in common with those dinosaurs your four-year-old was asking about and is destined for the same fate.