When mobile-first web design is a myth

For over a decade the ‘mobile-first’ design philosophy has been thrown around as the ultimate ‘best practice’ in web design. In reality, I rarely see this happening. Just look at most of the award-winning websites featured on awwwards.com or The FWA. Even most of the tutorials and courses for web design and development usually begin from a desktop-based design. No-code tools such as Webflow and Elementor make you start from the desktop breakpoint.

Then why is a mobile-first approach still paddled so much? Is it just a buzzword or even a fad? Anyone with access to their website’s analytics—or observing us millennials, or even the Gen Zs—will know that it’s no secret mobile is one the most popular formats to consume content. Even websites.

High mobile usage and viewership don’t mean that it should be desktop-last. I’m also not advocating a desktop-first approach. Instead, we should be going into our responsive design work in parallel; be agile and jump back and forth as we begin to sketch out and build our designs.

A parallel approach allows the designs to be forgiving for all possible responsive sizes, and also allow the designer to optimise the information architecture and user experience concurrently.

It’s 2021—and when I hear the words “mobile-first” being thrown around as if it’s the new shiny thing in town—I cringe.

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