What is Mobile First Website Development?

Mobile first development ensures that the user has the same experience and the same level of quality across any device.


Callum Jackman
Web Developer

The spread of the Internet and the amount of ways we can connect to the web is currently charging along at a blistering pace. I’m sure that this isn’t the first you’ve heard this; current figures estimate there being 2.1 billion mobile web users in 2014, with that set to rise to over 6 billion in the next 5 years.

Adding to this is an explosion in the diversity of devices which are being used; no individual screen size has more than 20% of the ‘browser market’, creating a massively varied pool of devices from which your website may be viewed.

Research shows that people now use multiple devices to access your website. For instance, a user initially discovers your site through an app on their tablet, moving to a desktop machine to check their calendar and make a booking, to finally looking up the address on their mobile as they approach your location.

Mobile first development ensures that the user has the same experience and the same level of quality across any device. The basic methodology behind mobile first is the idea that both screen size and device power are limited resources, and a website should provide for devices that are both poor and rich in these.

This can be accomplished by building the website for the most basic device first, and then adding in ‘layers’ of content and functionality, so that the website reacts positively to more powerful devices or larger screen sizes, by taking full advantage of their features. Traditionally, the most basic device is the mobile device, hence the term mobile first.

Here is an excellent example of mobile first development in action, with a recent website built by us; Snaps + Rye :

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 14.27.17

You can see how the website is adapting to match the different screen sizes, and it is also clear that the larger devices are showing more images. Displaying more images on more powerful devices is spot on mobile first development; hiding these images from mobile users is not restricting their experience at all, as the information is constant across devices, but it will yield performance benefits, as images are much more intensive to display than text.

Having a responsive website is no longer optional for hospitality businesses. It is essential for customers to be able to access your menus, opening hours and booking options as quickly and easily as possible from a mobile device otherwise they will just switch to another website which is more accustomed to their needs and you will lose their business.

Mobile first development is more than just a buzz word, it describes a discipline of web development which results in the production of a fluid, responsive website that can be confidently viewed through any device. And although, due to the rate at which new technology comes out, no website is future proof, the core versatility of a mobile first built website means that it will continue to work on new devices to be built in years to come.

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