There’s been a lot said about the importance of making your website look good on all screen types. The ability to adjust your site’s pages to small and large displays (so that your visitors can access all the significant pieces of information you offer) is a crucial factor in your site’s usability. Your website should be adaptive, and then what’s the difference between these two terms – responsive web design and mobile-first? They seem to bear similar meanings. However, the two represent different web design approaches.


Why is it essential to make your website adaptive?

I guess that I won’t surprise anyone if I say that today the majority of online searches come from portable devices. According to Google search statistics 2020, 63 percent of Google’s US organic search traffic originated from mobile devices. Around 68 million searches bring traffic from mobile devices every hour. 

There is a growing rise in mobile traffic among travelers. Interestingly, people browse the web, not only in search of the places to visit and historical insights about the countries where they come. There’s been a considerable rise in online travel bookings placed through smartphones and travelers. According to Condor Ferries, 45% of UK travelers feel more comfortable planning, booking, and searching for travel tips using only mobile. 72% of mobile bookings happen within 48 hours of last-minute Google searches.

Taking all this into account, it’s getting avid that contemporary mobile trends are already in the era of mobile marketing. To ensure a long-lasting success for your project, it’s vital for it to not only be present online but also have an adaptive web resource that should be easy-to-use for both mobile and desktop users. 

When working on improving your website’s usability, it’s essential to know the difference between responsive and mobile-first designs. If both techniques are aimed at making your site look good on different screen sizes, what’s the slight difference between these two techniques? 


What’s Mobile-First Web Design? 

Drawing a comparison between responsive and mobile-first web designs, you should know that mobile-first is more about the design strategy. In contrast, responsive web design refers to a technical approach to website construction. 

As a rule, websites are made with the idea that a visitor should feel comfortable while navigating the content on a desktop device. This approach is generally considered to be called desktop-first. To be viewed on the screens of smartphones and tablets, a desktop-first website needs to scale down to be browsed on smaller screens. Everything sounds to be logical and beautiful, but different aspects of your web page may adapt poorly to a smaller screen. This may bring users down and make them leave for a different website that looks good on mobile. 

For this not to happen, it’s better to opt for the mobile-first web design strategy. When building mobile-first websites, you start designing web pages for the smallest screen size possible and then adjust it to scale upwards to be appropriately viewed on laptops and desktops. 


What’s Responsive Web Design? 

A responsive website is designed to automatically adjust to different screens that people use to access your content. It’s easy to check if it’s responsive design in front of you by merely zooming it in the browser window. Responsive web designs are intended to adjust the content of a website based on the browser width in the user’s device. 

Responsive web designs are the win-win solution to everyone who needed to create two versions of the site – for desktops and smartphone screens. Whenever a user reaches your content from a mobile phone screen – the content and user interface of your website adapts to look and feel fine on that specific device. 


Responsive vs Mobile-First Web Design – What’s the Best Choice for Me? 

It depends on the specific type of business that you adopt. Although it may seem that the mobile-first web strategy may be a cure-all, it’s not always true. 

Compared to the development of a responsive website, creating a mobile-first web project will be expensive for you. This might not bring you the desired boost of traffic or revenue growth, as you might expect. More importantly, you might not need it at all. Before choosing which of these two strategies to opt for, you need to know your audience better. 

Many tools are suited for this purpose. Google Analytics is one of them. The software helps you determine what devices your website visitors use. It will also help you better discover their online browsing behavior. For example, you will see what pages are in the biggest demand, where people take action on your site, what stage they leave your web resource, etc.  

Commence by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Do the majority of my customers use desktops or mobile devices to browse my content? 
  • If your clients prefer using desktops for web search, ask yourself if it’s because of their habit or something is wrong with your site. 
  • Would you get more traffic if your website was responsive? 

If you find out that the biggest part of your audience chooses mobile gadgets, you’d better opt for the mobile-first strategy. If most of your clients choose desktops, you will never lose if you opt for the responsive web design strategy. 


Final Words 

The usability of your website should be the top priority for you. Your customers may not even know if you run a responsive or mobile-first website. They should feel comfortable accessing your web content fully. Choosing between mobile-first and responsive web design approaches,  learn about your customers’ preferences, discover more about their online behavior, and opt for the method that would be the most relevant on your site. 

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