Should all websites be designed ‘mobile first’ in 2019?
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Should all websites be designed ‘mobile first’ in 2019?

Category: Web Design
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The most recent breakdown of mobile vs desktop web users shows that more than 52% of web traffic worldwide now comes from mobile phones. For me, this statistic more than any other, demonstrates how quickly things have had to progress in web design. It’s pretty mind-blowing actually. 


Ten short years ago, the number of mobile browsers was less than 1%. Now, bear in mind that 2009 is still 2 whole years after the first iPhone with web browsing was released. And a lengthy 5 year scroll up the timeline since Mark Zuckerberg had unleashed Facebook on us. Back then, people were browsing and socialising on desktops or laptops. Phones were for making calls and sending texts and the iPod was revolutionising how we consume music. 

Let's fast forward 5 years to 2014. Mobile browsing had leapt up in to 27%. Quite a seismic shift, but still desktop browsers ruled the waves for web surfing. 

The Dominant Desktop vs The Mighty Mobile

Over the next 24 months, the mighty mobile was about to undergo a transformation of epic proportions. YouTube increased capability and reach under Google’s control, Apple continued to release faster, smaller devices with bigger, sharper screens and highly agile web browsing. People had begun to find similarly brilliant technology from the likes of Samsung, LG and more recently, Huawei. Things had begun to get really interesting. By 2016, the writing was on the wall for the dominant desktop and in 2017, the crossover happened.

Quick as a flash, the mighty mobile strode mercilessly in front!

This meant that by 2015 there was increasing demand on web designers to produce websites that not only worked and looked great on desktop, but were device responsive for mobiles and tablets. Being device responsive would mean for example, that a 3 column page layout would shift to a single page layout, with priority given to the most important content showing first. Page-wide, horizontal menu systems with tabbed buttons had to be swapped out for slinky little slide down numbers. 

At Big Red, we followed this race for dominance with great interest. In fact, we could see it coming. By 2013 we had already factored device responsiveness into both our CMS platform and our internal design guidelines. Our clients have been running with mobile friendly websites since then and we continue to make adjustments and improvements to how our websites look and work. Coding and technology continue to progress at breakneck speed.

Exciting stuff! If like us, you like that kind of thing.

Our approach to mobile web design

Given that we’ve been following this curve for over 5 years, you would be forgiven for assuming that Big Red now approach web design from a completely mobile-first perspective. Well, this is not the case (cue gasps berating from the audience). Let’s make one thing clear before I go into this in more detail: ALL sites designed and produced on the Big Red Platform are both mobile and desktop friendly. They are this way by default. However, we often shift their focus to make them even better using research and design. 

From our experience, desktop is not over just yet for our clients. In fact, it still continues to dominate in many cases, however its nemesis the mighty mobile is never too far behind. Therefore, both need to be given careful consideration according to who the website is targeting.

Anyone who has ever worked with Big Red Digital will know that we focus heavily on results and data. This is because we know from experience that no business or industry is the same. When you really learn about their marketplace, their goals and their customers, all of our clients are very different. The people we help them speak to directly, their key target audiences, are also different. They consume information at different times of the day, in different ways and on different devices. When it comes to design and content, we follow the data. By analysing past performance data and running industry relevant research, we narrow in on the breakdown of web users for that specific client. Then we design their website accordingly. 

B2B clients take orders during working hours from other businesses and therefore most of their customers are at work using a laptop or desktop. Many of them also work away from the office on laptops. When we run our research, we may find that our clients buck the worldwide trend and have a split of 60% desktop and 40% mobile users. For such a client, a single column bootstrap-style website that is fully mobile focused would drive their users to distraction. They want clear information and they want it fast. They don’t want to sit through some animation or scroll through panel after panel of minimalist teaser content. On the other hand, B2C client websites may benefit from such bells and whistles. Believe me, our designers love nothing better than to show how fancy they can be with code and content, but at Big Red we strive to understand that what the key target audience (KTA) want, and what devices they are using. This must remain the priority.

What do your KTA want?

If you’re unsure who your website is aimed at or what they expect to see, then you need our help. Get in touch now and we’ll get you talking to your customers - directly, through the very technology they use.

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About The Author

Hi, thanks for reading this article. I'm Big Red Digital's Managing Director and have been with the company since 2012. After starting my career in one of Glasgow's busiest advertising and design agencies, I made the natural shift to web design and digital marketing. I'm passionate about getting the very best results for our clients.

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