Why are eCommerce stores prioritizing mobile first design?

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Answered by: Zakir, An Expert in the Tech and Industry Trends Category
Customers are getting comfortable using mobile devices for online purchases. Yet most eCommerce websites are designed with desktop computers in mind.

When someone is checking out the latest gadget or jewelry on your mobile site while waiting at the doctor’s office or the grocery checkout line, that person is a potential customer. So it makes sense that your website is mobile-friendly.

The mobile first design is a natural evolution of the mobile-friendly approach. It is taking the mobile-friendly philosophy to the next level.

Birth of Mobile First Principle

In a large eCommerce project, designers start with the desktop version of the website. Once this version is complete, developers look into optimizing the various components of the website to make it mobile responsive.

The problem with this approach is that even with optimization, your website can still run slow on a mobile device. The reasons might be script loading delays, inefficient image compressions or heavy resource bottlenecks. Also, a design that looks great on your HD monitor might seem lackluster on your phone or tablet.

To overcome the problem of downgrading a design, a mobile first approach was born. In the mobile first design, you start your eCommerce website in the limited real estate of the mobile devices. Then you upgrade that concept to a more expanded desktop version.

However, before you start on a mobile first approach, you need to determine if this approach is right for your customers. If your customers are more likely to make their purchasing decisions in front of a computer, then you are better off designing your website and taking the optimization route.

Rethinking the User Experience For Mobile First

In a mobile first approach, you will start with the essentials for a mobile device. The download speed, the aesthetics of the website, and the ease of use are all geared towards catering to mobile devices. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Image Compression: Relative lower network speeds mean that your images need to be smaller in size. If your mobile site seems slow, most consumers will not buy from you.

2. Look and Feel: The site needs to look natural on the small screen. You should avoid a design where users have to zoom in and out to view the full website. Designs that use card-like pages can make it a thumb-friendly browsing experience.

3. Design Flow: A clearly defined design can help with concrete objectives like sales, subscriptions or signups. The user interface should help the customers go through pre-defined steps. In a desktop design, you have the extra real estate to keep your customers interested with images and texts. In a mobile site, the limited information on the screen has to be intriguing enough to convince your customers to take the next step.


For the right customer base, starting your eCommerce site with mobile can make a huge difference. It gives you an opportunity to prioritize the needs of your mobile users. The content and navigation of your site will reflect the effects of this extra work.

If you look at any online store on your mobile phone, you can intuitively tell mobile optimized versus mobile first. It means your customers can also tell the difference. So designing a great mobile experience for your eCommerce store will ensure satisfied customers. It will encourage loyalty towards your business.

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