Mobile Web Design: Why Mobile-First, Responsive Web Design with Foundation is Key

Mobile First is King

Saying you can’t ignore mobile is like saying you can’t ignore your customers. With 53% of all Americans accessing the internet through mobile, and 31% of them as mobile-only, the better phrasing would be, “You still can’t ignore desktops.”

That being said, the best approach to web design today is a responsive site or app that adapts itself to fit the device it’s viewed on, in a mobile-first development approach. Zurb’s Foundation framework, arguably the most advanced front-end responsive framework out there, serves that up in buckets.

1. Responsive is Best

Responsive web development, simply put, means your site re-sizes to fit whatever device it’s viewed on. Desktop, tablet, phone and what’s next? Maybe smartwatch?

This beats developing a separate website for each platform for a shopping bag of reasons, including:

  • SEO. Search engines favor the single-site approach. Serve up a different site depending on the platform, and your search result position suffers. Google even recommends responsive web design, because a single URL and site regardless of device is easier to crawl, index, share, interact with and link.
  • Cost. It’s easier, faster, and therefore, cheaper to build and maintain a single, responsive site than several. Let’s say you want to change a product description. It’s better to do that once, than once for desktop, once for tablet and again for smartphone, isn’t it?
  • Forward Thinking. We can’t know what new screen shapes and sizes will show up next month. Playing whack-a-mole with new designs for every new configuration makes no sense. Better if your site can change itself to fit whatever container it’s poured into. To quote Bruce Lee, “Be like water.”
  • Reach a Wider Audience. Adaptability means you reach more people, and those people have a bigger chance of coming back to you more often.

2. Mobile-First is the Present and Future of Mobile

A recent Forbes article says e-Commerce is growing at a rate of over 16% per year, while mobile grows at over 68%. That makes mobile a fast-growing slice of an ever-larger pie.Why go mobile-first? Let’s look at how responsive web design was traditionally handled. You made your site for PC, then stripped it down for tablet and then stripped down again for mobile. That was known as “graceful degradation,” a fancy term for showing less and less as screen size shrunk.

The problem was, although you’re showing less, you’re delivering the same. In other words, with PC first, your responsive mobile site still had to download every bit and byte of data on the site, and then select the items to leave out.

Why’s that bad? Because mobile is traditionally slower. So you’re asking your slowest, smallest platform to download more than it needs before displaying it. And that loses customers. Because 75% of web users will abandon a site that takes too long to load. Looked at another way, it’s like going to a slower restaurant, then asking them to cook up one of every item on the menu, and then, when they bring it all out, just eating the burger.

Second, mobile-first forces us to focus on our core content and functionality. That means we zero in on presenting the most important aspects of our business first, and let customers drill down to suit their needs from there. Are they reaching us on a PC? Well great. We’ll show them more detail up front. But why lead off by packing your message with an over-busy Christmas tree of potentially confusing data? If someone walks in looking for the most powerful sports car on the market, you don’t start with a 10-minute comparison of all the different cup holders, floor mats and the like. Mobile-first respects and even forces this direct, get-to-the-point approach.

3. Zurb’s Foundation Masters Mobile-First

Mobile-first was historically difficult and packed with headaches, which made it complicated and expensive, time-consuming and slow to implement and update. Until the Foundation framework came along.

Foundation has been called the most advanced responsive front-end framework in the world. It makes mobile-first both fast and easy, which is why millions of developers are using it worldwide. It simplifies the construction of adaptable sites. It offers better performance and customizability for mobile users. And that means cheaper, faster, higher quality mobile-first responsive sites.

Further, Zend Framework 2 (renowned as a modular, secure, extensible and high-performing framework) dovetails with Foundation nicely to add extra value to the picture.

4. The Bottom Line

With a mobile-first, responsive web design, built on Foundation and Zend Framework 2, the website you want can be created faster, less expensively and to a higher quality, ultimately reaching more customers (and potential customers) more often than at any time in the past. That’s why Otreva uses Foundation and Zend to give our customers the powerful, functional site they want, fast, at lowest cost, and in a way that’s both inexpensive and easy to update, which makes keeping current with the swiftly-changing face of tech a breeze.

Otreva is a custom software product development company focusing on user experience, responsive web development, & mobile application development.

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