Mobile First Design: Why It’s Vital for Your Website

It’s official: mobile devices have taken control of the internet. In fact, 63% of web traffic in the U.S. now takes place on handheld devices. A few years ago, Google announced that mobile surpassed desktop for the first time, with more than 50% of searches taking place on phones and tablets. In response to this shift in device usage, Google added the notorious “mobilegeddon” update in 2015 and has been integrating mobile-first indexing in recent months.

So, what are the repercussions? Your website’s search engine ranking is now strongly correlated with its performance and design on mobile devices. In addition, your mobile site is increasingly becoming the first point of reference for Google when it decides where to rank you. If you’re revamping an old site or building a brand new one, here’s a list of tips to help ensure you’re ahead of the curve with a mobile first design.

1 – Simplify Your Content & Navigation

For mobile users, it’s paramount to find the sweet spot between too little and too much. Visitors on mobile are likely on-the-go or in a time constraint, making it vital to give them the basics in as little words possible. Unlike most desktop users, people use their phones to quickly find options and answers, comparing and contrasting your business to the list of alternatives.

So, the faster you can communicate your features and services, the more likely that a visitor won’t bounce from your site. However, not only should your content be straight to the point on mobile, but the navigation menu and page layout should be minimized.

For example:

  • If your navigation bar is long on desktop, cut it down for mobile.
  • Make sure your page layouts are optimized for tapping and swiping actions.
  • Enlarge your text, turn your links to buttons, and make those buttons big.

2 – Utilize a Responsive Framework

A responsive framework helps to ensure that developers can build a site that translates well on all devices: mobile, tablets, desktop. For example, Foundation and Bootstrap are some of the most prominent mobile-first frameworks, allowing for easy design of front-end and back-end user interfaces. Frameworks like these are a simple way to translate your designs to the small scale screen of a mobile phone or tablet.

By using the responsive framework approach, your site will detect the specific size of each visitor’s screen and adjust the layout of each page to exact measurements. Not only will this step create a flawless user experience, but the time spent on the developer’s end is cut down tremendously.

3 – Increase Your Website Speed

Your mobile site speed is critical for search engine ranking, along with creating the best experience for all of your visitors. Google announced in July, 2018, that page loading speed is a major factor when it considers where your site will be placed in search results.

Fast = up top, Slow = down low.

How do you make sure your site is performing at top speed?

Screaming Frog and GTmetrix are two of our favorite tools for helping you optimize your site’s speed. Both programs can help you identify and address things like:

  • Compressing Your Files – It’s key to make sure that everything that is uploaded to your site is in the lowest file size possible, including compressed images, videos, and forms.
  • Using a Plugin for Caching – Several plugins can be used to set up a caching system to cut down on load times for visitors. WP Super Cache is great for a WordPress site.
  • Resolving Technical Errors – By eliminating technical errors like broken links, broken images, and overly saturated pages, you greatly enhance the amount of time a user spends completing actions on your site.

Final Tips for Mobile-Friendly Movement.

With the increase in mobile web traffic and Google’s emphasis on mobile performance for ranking, it’s recommended to concentrate your efforts towards these hand-held devices. We suggest a “Progressive Advancement” approach, beginning by designing your site for the lowest browser (mobile phone, tablet) first and then building it out with added detail and interactions for desktop. However, if your overhauling an existing site, it’s recommended that you condense your current copy and navigation to make it mobile-friendly.

In case you’re still not convinced, here are some final notes.

  • Mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop usage.
  • People spend more time browsing mobile than ever before.
  • Smartphone sales have outnumbered PC sales.
  • Mobile performance is at the forefront of search engine ranking.

Above data from smartinsights.com

For an SEO strategy or web design, contact us. We take the friction out of all things digital.

Speak to One of Our Strategists