Benefits of Mobile-First Front-End Development
Mobile-first is a standard that tends to come up in most modern-day web projects. So much so that it has become an extremely common standard practice even for realms outside of development. When it comes to front-end development specifically, the mobile-first approach tends to be the go-to for good reason, it’s faster!
Over the past decade, mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage and is now more than half of all worldwide web traffic. This has even led Google to change its algorithm to crawl sites mobile-first. Many studies have been done with regard to the importance and prevalence of mobile users and it could be the case that the audience for your specific project is not primarily using mobile devices. The positive of mobile-first development is that there is essentially no practical downside to the desktop user. Using this method, even if your mobile traffic is low, the experience will be easily optimized, as well as for any future mobile growth.
The most important instance of time-saving comes from the mobile user themselves. If a page is developed desktop first and includes more complex layouts, then when a user visits the site from a mobile device they will need to load all the assets that are meant for desktop. These assets are commonly images, but also include media queries like sliders, user interaction effects, or page movement.
With mobile-first, the desktop user now has to load the mobile assets which may not be used in the desktop layout. However, the unused mobile assets for the desktop user are much smaller than would be the unused desktop assets for the mobile user. On top of that, the page loading speed for a mobile device tends to be more important, as a user would usually have much more bandwidth available using a desktop.
The other large time savings is for the developer themselves. The less code the better. When writing code mobile-first this is a natural occurrence. In some instances of writing the code desktop first, you will then need to re-define properties to keep the layout intact on a mobile device. It would not be necessary to repeat the code with the mobile-first approach because you would be using increasing min-width breakpoints to add complexity to the layout as the screen size increases. This helps to keep the style sheet easily readable, shorter, more organized, and less repetitive.
In the end, we all want a site that performs and looks great for all devices and that is what using the mobile-first approach helps to accomplish.
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