Mobile-First Web Design Explained

Panorama banner of startup company employee planning on user interface. Synergic


31 years since its birth on the 1st of January 1983, the way we’re able to access the internet has drastically changed compared to the early days of the world wide web. What used to be only accessible through a bulky desktop, are now accessible with a device the size of the palm of your hand.

Today, smartphones and tablets account for the majority of website traffic at almost 57.13% of all traffic in 2023, compared to 20.83% just 10 years prior. A huge yet foreseeable feat considering the portability and ease of access granted through the technology advancement in wireless internet connection. 

With the upward trajectory of the trend and emergence of new smartphone technology each year, it is wise to expect the usage of mobile devices to access the web will continue to grow in 2024 onwards. This increase in user behaviour creates a need for a new approach in web designing : Mobile-first web design.

What is Mobile-First Web Design?

Simply put, mobile-first web design is a design approach that prioritizes users’ experience on mobile devices first instead of desktop. Websites are built with the usability, limitations and also functionalities of a smaller screen in mind. This ensures optimum usability for users accessing the site through their smartphone.

There are several advantages to implementing a mobile-first design on your site:

Improved User Experience ( UX ) for mobile users

Since more than half of users are accessing the web through their mobile devices, a mobile-first design ensures a smooth and intuitive usability experience for a huge chunk of your website visitors. This can help improve engagement on your website, improve conversion rate and reduce bounce rate.

Better website speed

A mobile-focused site usually has less media content, and less elaborate layout structure. The images and video are also optimized for mobile viewing which means smaller size, and improved load time. A faster loading website would also prove beneficial for SEO.

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One such example is Google Maps, which is known to be built on a mobile-first design. Even with all the media and images in the map interface, the loading time fares quite well. This can be seen in the image above, which is a screenshot from Google’s PageSpeed Insight performance test result for mobile. The website scored 55 for the performance test.

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The image above is the same test, but for the desktop site. Notice that the scores are not negatively impacted, but rather improved. By designing the site around the limited accessibility and functionality of mobile, it would generally lead to a better performance on desktop which are able to unleash the site’s full potential.


Mobile-first design includes testing the website on a wide range of mobile devices. With the current availability of mobile devices with different screen sizes, from 5 inch up to  a staggering 13 inch for tablet, having your website compatible with all of the devices is of utmost importance. By taking this approach, website developers can identify and resolve compatibility issues early on and ensure a seamless user experience across different platforms.

Website desktop version and mobile version 1

SEO Friendly

It is known that search engines like Google consider the mobile-friendliness of a site for their ranking. You should also remember that Google has been using a mobile-first indexing system since 2020, which prioritizes crawling the mobile site first instead of the desktop site. With all these attributes and factors, having a mobile-first design might as well be that one advantage over your competitors that help you secure the top position in the search results.

Focus on Content

As mobile screen sizes differ from desktop screen sizes, web developers are forced to use different layout bases for each platform, each with their own unique point. By using mobile layout as your foundation, you’re forced to prioritize the most important content for your visitors due to the limited screen sizes and functionality. This might seem like a disadvantage, but it actually helps in creating a layout and content prioritization that are more streamlined and user-friendly for your site visitor.


The landscape and way on how we surf the internet has undeniably changed. With mobile devices contributing the largest portion of web traffic, having a mobile-first design approach is no longer optional, but a necessity. By emphasizing the mobile experience of your site, you will be able to ensure a smooth and user-friendly experience for most of your audience. This will contribute a number of benefits like improved SEO, faster loading times, and a focus on core content – all a crucial recipe for a successful site in this digital world.

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BrandSwift is a leading web design & SEO agency based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We specializes in website development and maintenance service. Our expertise also include SEO and Google Ads, boosting online visibility of our clients. Our firms have successfully assisted over 300+ MNCs and local clients across Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, swiftly and effectively improving their branding on both local and global platforms.

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