What is a mobile responsive website?

The shift from desktop first to mobile first

Before we get to the main point of ‘what is a mobile responsive website’ it is important that we understand some context and history of mobile usage of the internet. Until recently the Internet was seen as primarily a desktop computer experience, with a relatively small amount of users accessing it from other devices. But by 2017 more people were accessing the internet via a mobile than a desktop device shifting from websites that are ‘desktop first’ to those that are ‘mobile first’.  However many websites are lagging behind and are not being designed to work on mobile devices properly.


In 2022 – 62.06% of website traffic comes from mobile devices


Why you need a ‘mobile first’ site

These statistics make it clear why it is imperative to consider mobile users when designing a website.  You look at the mobile experience first, and then design the desktop experience.


So what is a mobile responsive website?

mobile responsive website

A mobile responsive site is different from a mobile first site.  A website that employs a responsive design, means the site is able to change how it looks depending on the size of the screen the user is using, this is completely device agnostic.

The best way to explain this is a practical example, if you open a browser and visit a website (like www.bbc.co.uk). Then change the size of the browser you will see that as you do that how the site displays changes accordingly, look at these things;

  • How the menu changes size and shape
  • The number of blocks you see across the page


How can you tell if a site is responsive?

Ideally the site should adapt itself to make it as convenient as possible for the user, regardless of the device. On older websites that are not responsive, the website is really hard to use on mobile devices, so the menu is too small to be clickable, the site scrolls from side to side, the text is small and hard to read.


Users need both Desktop and Mobile

This is really important, what a user is looking for will vary depending on how they are accessing the site, let’s look at an example of a restaurant website,

If you are looking at the site on a desktop, then you are probably at home or at work, so you might be checking out the site to do the following;

  • Look at the menu
  • Make a booking
  • Check out reviews
  • See where it is

So you are likely to be using the site for a visit you will make at a future time.  But, if you are checking it on mobile, then you are more likely to be out and about, and possibly on your way to the restaurant, so the things you are likely to want are:

  • Location of the restaurant
  • Telephone number
  • Menu
  • Make a booking

So you can see that context is everything in this situation, so a site that is fully mobile responsive will adapt not only to the screen size, but also to the device (desktop v mobile) and then adapt the way the content is displayed to allow for that and also the likely scenario it is being used in.

All websites should be responsive, and they do not ‘mobile first’ then should still try to offer a really good experience for mobile users. When we are building a new site we always look at the data and see how the users currently access the site.  We also look at how good the current site is at being responsive to mobile and desktop.  All this information drives how the website is designed.

If you want to know more about responsive design or what we do, get in contact.