Mobile or Desktop first design?

When you start designing a website you must start with one of the two options: mobile first, or desktop first design. Do you always have to choose mobile first? Or rather deck stop first? We give you the answer in this article.


18 december 2019


What is mobile or desktop first design?

When you go for desktop first design, you start a design based on a desktop (a fixed computer, or laptop) computer. Then it is adapted for mobile by means of responsive design. Certain elements are placed below each other, not shown or made narrower / smaller. This way you have the best user experience on desktop.

When you go for mobile-first design, you are the first to design for a mobile device. Then you ensure that responsive design can also be used on desktop computers. Elements can thus get more space and images can be displayed larger. This way you have the best user experience on mobile.

Figures mobile and desktop use

When you want to make a choice between mobile or desktop, it is useful to first dive into the numbers. Measuring is knowing! We are going to dive into the global figures, those of the Netherlands, but also filter by B2B, B2C and by age.


When we look at the data worldwide, we see that since May 2019 the desktop users have passed away. Worldwide, therefore, more than 50% are busy on their mobile device, while with desktop this is still 45%. Tablet is still a small percentage with 2.8%.

The Netherlands

Mobile use is also high in the Netherlands, but on average lower than worldwide! In the Netherlands, mobile use is just under 40%, while desktop is at 55%. The tablet use is again higher: almost 5%.

B2C versus B2B

We also conducted a survey ourselves with all the websites that we manage. We have made a distinction between B2B and B2C websites. If we look individually, we see that the B2C website wins the mobile device in 90% of the cases. And quite a lot too! The interesting thing is that with B2B this is exactly the other way around.


We also looked at the difference in use of devices based on the age of the visitors. You see that the amount of tablet use increases as the target group gets older. The mobile use mainly peaks in the 18-24 target group but he actually wins in all areas of the desktop. With the 65+, mobile and desktop use is almost the same.

When do you choose which option?

As you can see the figures change quite a lot by target group, age or location. Overall wins the mobile in most cases, but in some cases the best choice in the desktop.

When you start with desktop-first, you can design very broadly and add many features. Then you have to check later which function is really important for mobile.

When you start with mobile-first you first start thinking about the most important features, which you can then also give more attention on desktop.

A number of guidelines to help you choose mobile-first or desktop-first design.

Opting for mobile first

  • Most visitors visit the current website via mobile.
  • Most sales are done via mobile. (Note: this may also be because it does not work (properly) on the desktop, so investigate this first!)
  • When the website or app only has a few core features.
  • The UX on mobile is much more important, on desktop it is less important because people use it differently there.

Opt for desktop first

  • Most visitors visit the current website via desktop.
  • Most sales are done via the desktop. (Note: this may also be because it does not work (properly) on mobile, so first research this!)
  • When the product is intended for desktop use.
  • When the website or app has many (important) features.
  • The UX on desktop is much more important, on mobile it is less important because people use it differently there.

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