I've read the book Mobile First and agree with many of the points made. However, I still do not approach a project creating a set of mobile wireframes and then desktop. I still design the other way round. I'm slightly nervous about adopting the mobile first approach for a new website re-design, I was wondering if there are any issues with approaching UX from a mobile first standpoint. Are there any instances where it is actually better to think about desktop first?

3 Answers 3


It's important to remember that mobile first is just one of many ways of approaching a problem, and although it is an excellent methodology, you should think about why you want to use it. It's a tool, and even a very useful tool has shortcomings.

Your mobile experience shouldn't just be a smaller version of your web experience. I'm sure most people would agree with that, but a result of that is that your mobile and web experience can (and often should) offer different content and features to what your website offers.

If this is your case, and you need your full application available early on, it might be a good choice to design web-first, and then include into your mobile version only what makes sense for a mobile experience.

If your product is simple and full functionality is appropriate in both web and mobile, then I would suggest using mobile first. But if they should be fundamentally different experiences I would look at alternatives.

Some useful articles on the issue:
Rethinking Mobile First
Mobile first sometimes maybe
Mobile First Design: Why It’s Great and Why It Sucks

  • Spot on! We're redesigning our service's web and mobile apps now... they live in very different contexts and their designs reflect that clearly. However, it sounds like Reloaded's project may be coming from a more a "website" perspective than an app or product design perspective, in which case a Mobile First strategy might be more appropriate :) Jan 30, 2013 at 0:58

Nope! Mobile first web design is smart because it forces you to reduce your ideas down to their essential elements. Nobody ever got in trouble for making their design "too simple", and you can always add more elements and features as you build up for larger and larger screens.

Now, there are some elements of websites that mobile sites hinder (such as load times on mobile speeds vs. DSL speeds, which is directly at odds with big splash images on sites), but most of the time you can work around this by saving these elements for the larger versions of your site and/or using responsive images as well.

The only time it would be good to design with a desktop first is if your design is never going to be used on anything but a desktop. Think like a kiosk setup -- i.e. if users aren't going to access the design on a mobile device, then there's no reason to take those devices into account.

For most websites, though? You ought to assume someone will try to visit them on a mobile device.


I think the book is talking about the structure of HTML.Basically the designer has to think how it will look when you have to optimize it for the smaller screen, also the elements that are needed for the site to work.

There is no right or wrong way to start the design, just keep in mind that whatever you do it has to work on small/large screens.

Also now days there are a lot of designers that propose to keep Photoshop to a minimum: design in browser

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