For the last few years, responsive web design has been a huge trend in our industry. And it still is the recommended way to think about building a new website or upgraded web presence. However, we’re starting to see a slow shift in terminology and perspective. Instead of “responsive” websites that are “mobile compatible,” marketers are taking a “mobile first” approach to their sites.
Is this just a difference in wording, or something bigger? To get to the answer, there are a few things we need to think about…
Mobile Isn’t a Web Design Trend
A lot of internet marketing trends—like search engine optimization, social media marketing, and so on—pick up steam because they are adopted by web designers and creative agencies first. However, when it comes to the enormous growth in mobile web usage and compatibility, it’s all about users and consumers.
Not only do people using smart phones and tablets now make up a majority on the internet, but some studies suggest that they represent the only growth in web traffic over the last few years. So, it’s not hard to see that they’re going to keep making up a bigger and bigger share of web traffic, while traditional laptops and desktop computers will begin to disappear in many homes and offices.
The Difference Between “Responsive” and “Mobile First”
Knowing that mobile users are a growing majority, a lot of companies (and their design teams) are moving away from the mindset that a website has to be “compatible” with mobile devices and are instead making those users a priority. Hence the term “mobile first.”
At the moment, this coincides well with responsive web design, but it’s a big shift in perspective. Instead of having websites that adapt themselves to smaller screens, these companies are building their online presences with the notion that mobile is the most important market, and that views from traditional computers are secondary.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Over the next year or two, expect to see more and more businesses going mobile first. As they do, we will probably begin to see fewer long forms, big chunks of content, and ultra high resolution images being displayed. Instead, we’ll see everything optimized for mobile usage, and then simply stretched out or expanded for those who happen to be visiting from devices with larger screens.
Regardless of what terminology you use or prefer, it’s obvious to those of us in the web design and online marketing industry that mobile computing isn’t just the future, but arguably the most important part of the present, too. In other words, mobile users and buyers make up the majority, so it only makes sense to think in terms of what they want.