Whether looking for a first website or a replacement for your existing online presence, you will hear many web designers discussing ‘mobile-first’. As the name suggests, mobile-first sites are designed with a primary focus on how on-page elements are viewed and interacted with on a smartphone or tablet screen.
But why would you prioritise the limited viewing potential and processing power of a mobile phone, over a large screen like that found on a laptop or desktop computer? Here’s what you need to know.
Mobile web use is outstripping traditional computers
With the exception of sites used for internal business processes, your website is designed to meet the needs of your customers. And increasingly consumers are accessing the web from their smartphones.
Since January 2014, mobile devices have consistently accounted for more Internet traffic than their desktop counterparts. People are simply spending more time surfing using mobile websites and apps. Even more importantly, 74% of mobile customers say that they will return to a mobile-friendly site in future. And 67% are more likely to buy a product or service from a mobile-optimised site, than from one that does not display ‘neatly’ on their device screen.
Given that your customers now likely prefer to surf the web from a mobile device, it would be bad for business not to meet that need.
Google favours mobile-friendly sites
Ordinarily Google do not comment on the factors they use to decide how ‘good’ a website is, and where it will appear in their search results. However, back in April they broke their silence to announce a significant change to their indexing algorithms: since April 21st, they have penalised websites that do not have mobile-friendly design, for mobile search results only (desktop searches are not included).
Dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by a hysterical media, the algorithm change saw many businesses who had pursued a mobile-friendly strategy get a welcome boost in their search engine rankings and thus their overall traffic. Conversely, those businesses who had ignored the warnings saw their sites take a tumble onto the dreaded second or third page of search results, where they are unlikely to be seen by potential customers.
Mobile optimisation – more than just mobile viewable
It is important to note that mobile-first design is not the same as simply checking that you can see your website on a mobile device. Mobile-optimised websites use a combination of carefully designed buttons, menus, fonts and layouts that scale neatly according to the dimensions of the screen being used to browse.
Done correctly, a mobile-first site will look almost identical on every device, and when designed well, need only be built once. Known as responsive design, this auto-scaling helps do away with the need to build two sites (one for desktop users and another for mobile devices).
It makes sense to adopt responsive design
In reality, failing to design your website for mobile users will result in fewer visitors and sales than expected, as customers look to your mobile-friendly competitors, and Google prioritises their sites on the ever-increasing mobile-based searches. To maximise the impact of your business online, a mobile-first responsive design is the modern requirement.
For further help and advice about how building a mobile-first website, please give our expert partners a call – the team are always happy to discuss your options and advise how to best reach your clients online.
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