responsive web design

Responsiveness and “mobile first” design

Most of us use responsive websites every day.

A website is responsive if it scales perfectly to fit on any size screen. Shop online using a mobile or a tablet, and the chances are you’ll be accessing a responsive website. The tablet version looks different (but probably very similar) to the desktop version. The mobile version will look very different again.

As the three versions change – desktop/tablet/mobile – so does the focus of the site. Desktop versions are an opportunity to display strong branding and design cues. With a broader canvas, there’s scope to convey a message about your identity as well as listing what you do.

For a tablet version to look good (depending on its size), small adjustments to layout will mean that it looks and feels like a small desktop view.

It’s the mobile version where we see the biggest changes. At first glance, the mobile version of a website will look much more basic than the desktop version. The main reason for this is functionality – mobile versions of websites are all about conveying key information in a way that is easy to access on the move. It needs to be intuitive for the user to do whatever they want/need to do.

But it can’t be everything that the desktop version is. For our clients, mobile sites are often accessed first as a kind of gateway to the ‘main’ site, which they’ll visit later when they have time to sit down at a desktop or laptop. In other words, a good mobile site acts as a link in the chain of a company’s overall digital strategy.

A “mobile first” approach to your website opens up a conversation about everything you do as a business.

Over the last couple of years there has been a shift to “mobile first” design.

There’s a very good reason for this. Approximately 70% of internet users access the web via a mobile device. Most never even get beyond the mobile site.

The reality, however, is that businesses have different client-bases who will expect different things when accessing your website. This is why you need to take a strategic approach to web design, and to work with a designer that can have these kinds of conversations.

Mobile first design has two major components for our clients. First, there’s the need to “look right”, and to show the world that you’re keeping up with the latest developments in internet usage. This doesn’t have to mean being at the cutting-edge of design experimentation. Rather, it’s more to do with conveying the message that you’re a business that moves with the times, and one that is comfortable operating in a changing digital world. This has implications for how prospective clients will view your products and services.

Are you flexible enough to respond to change but still confident enough to assert your own identity? A well designed website can convey all of this.

The second main consideration, as mentioned above, is strategic. A “mobile first” approach to your website opens up a conversation about everything you do as a business.


Because it’s all about business priorities. What do clients/customers really want to know? What’s the most important thing about what you do that you want to convey? What service or product do you want to promote first? What are the core messages about you and your brand that are indispensable? Where does the expertise lie in your company? Are your clients primarily interested in services or your people?

These are the kinds of questions that you should be examining with your web designer – and most are the kinds of questions which define the bigger picture of what you do and your level of success.



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