Where To Start: Responsive Web Design or Design for Mobile-First?

Trends in web design change over time. Hot disputes like which web design approaches are still relevant and which are obsolete have become commonplace. Currently, web designers try to solve the following conundrum. What to choose: responsive web design or design for mobile-first? It’s clear that these are two separate methodologies that can normally exist without each other. They use different development frameworks and pursue different objectives. Let’s briefly consider each method to shed light on the topic discussed.

Responsive web design is really handy: one size fits all platforms. If the user wants to switch from one device to another, nothing is easier. The website automatically adapts to the new screen size, resolution, and scripting abilities. The user doesn’t need to scroll the website to no end, trying to view it on the smartphone. Responsive web design offers users from-top-to-bottom navigation. It uses a single code base, which, though, takes a considerable amount of time to be developed. Responsive web design would be a reasonable choice for corporate websites, travel blogs, media sites, and location-based services.


The mobile-first approach, in its turn, has its own advantages. As experience confirms, it’s a good idea for a company to have a separate mobile version of the corporate website that can be accessed via a smartphone. It offers much richer user experience compared to responsive web design.

It takes into account all content and visual components the user needs to see and provides an optimized version. To be implemented, the mobile-first design requires less time than responsive web design.

Mobile development is booming now. No wonder many entrepreneurs choose this type of design for their business needs.

What design methodology should you pick for your company? Pay attention to the following factors and guidelines.

Determine user needs

Web development is a broad area. There are no completely identical projects. Website designing always pursues a specific goal. Depending on this goal, you need to select a particular design methodology. Conduct a careful audience analysis.

Who are the end users? What devices are they supposed to use? Calculate future costs. What marketing companies do you need to carry out to hit the target? Until you give answers to these questions, you won’t understand what kind of design suits your needs best.

Target the product

Let’s assume that your start-up company is an online games provider. You’re going to develop games for mobile only. There will be no desktop versions of the games. In this case, you don’t need to waste a precious time thinking of which kind of web design to pick. Your end users will be using mobile devices to play the games. So, the mobile-first approach will work the best.

If you’re planning to design a website for a desktop or a combined version, responsive web design would be a good option. It will allow your website to run smoothly across all devices.

Stick to your goal

Imagine yourself a successful retailer. You sell your goods through the website. They are in great demand. You have a clear sales plan. To increase performance, you need a cost-effective mobile solution as fast as possible. The high quality of images is crucial for retail. Deadline is tough. Taking all of this into account, mobile-first approach, known for its rich user experience and fast execution, seems the most reasonable decision.

Both responsive web design and mobile-first approach have their advantages and downsides. Evaluate both methodologies once again and select the one, which suits your specific demands best.