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Responsive Design and Mobile First

Responsive Design Mobile First

Today we immerse ourselves in the world of responsive design and mobile first, two concepts now indispensable in web development. In this article, we explore the fundamentals of these innovative methodologies, discovering how they are transforming the digital landscape and improving the online user experience.


What is responsive design

It is known that visualisation on mobile devices differs significantly from desktop visualisation. This concerns not only image resolution but also many other factors. It is therefore important to optimise one's website to satisfy modern requirements and to visually represent it at a high quality and professionally online when users recall it with mobile devices. This concerns, for example, the disposition of all elements, the aspect, or a smooth and fluid loading process.

This optimisation technique adapts dynamic content to guarantee effortless visualisation on desktop, smartphone, and tablet. It's an approach that facilitates the use of applications and contributes to increasing both the time users spend on the website and click rates. These benefits, in turn, favour better ranking on search engines. Ultimately, this means more online visibility, an increase in popularity, and more traffic to the website.


How responsive design works

Responsive design represents a dynamic adaptation to the various screen resolutions and the associated interactions, created through personalised programming. Each content element is optimised to guarantee optimal legibility, independent of the device or input method used. This methodology adopts a structured approach to the design of web sites, making them dynamic instead of static.

Responsivee Design works with media queries, introduced with CSS3. With the help of media queries, the browser doesn't use all CSS properties, but only the CSS specifications defined in the CSS for the specified screen size or viewport. If you look at an average query for a screen size, it quickly becomes clear:

        @media only screen and (dimension) { 
            /* CSS declarations for the screen size specified above are to be inserted here. */

Compared to so-called adaptive web design, a responsive website is not optimised for specific types of devices. Breakpoints, that is, the points at which the style changes, are exclusively based on design requirements. Relative dimensions, such as percentages, are used in the design of individual elements. This way, the website is always adaptable to each dimension, independent of the device. With adaptive web design, breakpoints would instead be aligned to specific screen sizes, and the page would be designed with fixed pixel sizes. However, this approach is hardly relevant today.


Che cos'è il Mobile First

The term "mobile first" refers to a web design concept aimed at optimising the internet and website versions for mobile devices. Increasingly, more people use smartphones and tablets besides PCs and laptops to navigate the web. While in the past web development was concentrating exclusively on the orientation of pages for desktop and followed a more sophisticated design, today the situation is quite different. It is not only the visual appearance that counts, but also the loading speed and functionality of a website, which need sensitive adaptation.

Today, websites are rich with functionalities like video reproduction and download speed. For companies, it is vital to optimise their websites for mobile devices. This is because the success of their online presence and virtual shops depends on the website's loading speed and their professionalism when a site is visited on mobile devices. The appearance and speed of mobile access play a crucial role in the professional perception of the site, making optimisation for mobile devices a strategic priority.

Responsive design is fundamental for search engines that favour websites with a high-quality design optimised for mobile devices in their ranking algorithm. The mobile first approach implies the use of advanced technologies to make sure that visualisation on smartphones, tablets, and other devices is priviledged and has maximum priority in the development and optimisation of a website. Therefore, the choice between responsive design and mobile first becomes crucial, as it determines the positioning and visibility of a website in search engines, directly influencing its online performance.


How mobile first works

Mobile First differs from Responsive Design in that websites are optimised for mobile devices from the outset and only then follow extensions for desktops. Normally, the process takes place in reverse. Web designers and web programmers design a website so that it works on desktops and large screens and then adapt it to mobile devices.Mobile first differentiates from responsive design as websites are optimised for mobile devices from the start and only then follow the extensions 

With mobile-first approach, only the CSS for the smaller mobile version is written at the top of the CSS without media queries, i.e. the information is the same for all sizes. The larger the screen, the more CSS styles are added. For example, the size specification (min-width: 600px) applies to all devices wider than 600px. The contained CSS specifications can be used to extend or overwrite the original styles.

The basic structure of the CSS file is as follows:

        /* At the beginning of the file there is only the CSS code for smartphones */

        /* Media query for devices with a minimum width of 500px (e.g. smartphones in landscape, small tablets) */
        @media only screen and (min-width: 500px) {
            /* Additional CSS declarations for devices with a width greater than 500px are inserted here. */

        /* Media query for devices with a minimum width of 1000px */
        @media only screen and (min-width: 1000px) {
            /* Additional CSS declarations for devices with a width greater than 1000px are inserted here. */

        /* Media query for print style */
        @media print {
            /* CSS declarations for the print style are inserted here. */

One could, of course, also proceed in reverse and first write the desktop style in the file and overwrite the styles with media queries until reaching the smartphone. This technique has often been used in practice when an originally non-responsive website had to be made responsive at a later date. However, for new websites, this approach does not make sense for several reasons:

  • The CSS file becomes long and bloated, as a lot of desktop code has to be overwritten in mobile versions.
  • Smartphones, which are often slower and have less bandwidth, have to process all the higher-level desktop code first, which is also not pleasant from a performance point of view.
  • If you start with the desktop version, the mobile version often ends up looking like the unloved child that gets put on the back burner.



We have seen that responsive design and the mobile first approach represent essential pillars in modern web development. The increasing diversity of devices and screens requires a flexible and efficient design that adapts to users' needs, wherever they are and whatever device they use. Adopting responsive design not only improves user experience, but also visibility on search engines, ensuring that websites are easily accessible and usable by all.

In this context, Devinterface presents itself as the ideal partner to realise responsive development projects. With our experience and expertise in design and web development, we offer customised, leading edge solutions. Devinterface's innovative approach, combined with our attention to detail and quality, ensures that websites are optimised for any device, offering an unparalleled user experience. Contact us now for a free consultation.