Have you just opened a practice and need a website created? Do you have an existing website that needs some updates? If you are looking to develop a website in the near future, you need to understand the importance of mobile-first Web design.
What Is Mobile-First?
A mobile-first approach to Web design is exactly what it sounds like – designing for the smallest screen and then expanding features for larger tablet and desktop views.
This is a new shift in focus from the previous best practice of responsive design that started with the ideal desktop design and scaled down to fit on mobile phones and devices. This type of responsive design adjusts in size to display a mobile-friendly site on a smartphone, but this does not mean it is optimized to meet the needs of mobile visitors. Many design elements, images, and functions that add interest and enhance the user experience on a desktop can crowd or complicate the experience on a mobile device.
The New Mobile Majority
Flipping the process to prioritize the needs from desktop to mobile is a result of the need to adapt to the changes of technology access and the behaviors of Internet users. We can see that mobile is not a passing trend; in fact, it’s growing fast and becoming the main way many of us visit websites. Consider the following:
- Smartphone sales surpassed computer sales in 2011 – Mashable
- Mobile Internet usage surpassed desktop usage in 2016 – StatCounter
- As of 2018, one in every 10 adults are “smartphone-only” Internet users – Pew Internet
- Today, 60% of Google searches are made on a mobile device – Search Engine Land
In fact, it’s now likely that many users will only ever see your site on mobile.
And Google has of course predicted this and planned for it. In 2010, CEO Eric Schmidt announced that Google was going to be taking this approach from now on.
“This simple guide is, whatever you’re doing, do mobile-first.” – Eric Schmidt, Google
Google’s efforts to make the Web more mobile-friendly and reflect user behavior trends is now a critical factor in how you rank within search results. In March 2018, Google announced its plan to roll out mobile-first indexing. How does this affect SEO? As Moz explains:
“It’s called ‘mobile-first’ because it’s not a mobile-only index: for instance, if a site doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, the desktop site can still be included in the index. But the lack of a mobile-friendly experience could impact negatively on the rankings of that site, and a site with a better mobile experience would potentially receive a rankings boost even for searchers on a desktop.”
To get started with a mobile-first Web design, you need to consider what content and features are really important and helpful to visitors coming to your site. This will depend on their screen size. So, you need to deliver the right experience to the right device.
Mobile has the most limitations due to screen size and bandwidth for load times, so this naturally forces you to prioritize and simplify. You can then build upon this mobile-first foundation to include secondary features that add value to a visitor on a larger screen.
Benefits of Mobile-First Design
1. Better Content
A simplified design means greater emphasis on your content. When you put content first, your brand and message need to stand out and resonate with your audience.
Practices need to be very intentional in how they communicate who they are and what they do. Stock photos and generic information on services offered will look the same across competing sites. Custom photography and videos that tell your story and a thoughtful, purposeful voice will help you connect to your audience.
2. Shorter & Faster
When you design with mobile in mind, you are looking to minimize scrolling and load time. Mobile users are on the move and need to find information quickly. If your site is bogged down with extra elements that are cluttering the screen, you will lose these visitors. Within a couple of seconds, they may hit the back button and try again on a competitor's site.
Simple is better. Avoid using large, unnecessary graphics or buttons, animations, or large chunks of code from embedded items.
3. More Conversions
When you improve user experience, you improve conversion rates. If users coming to your site have a good first impression, can easily find what they’re looking for, and find it valuable, they will stay on your site longer and are much more likely to download your resource, sign up for a newsletter, or make contact with your practice.
I believe this level of attention to the substance and experience of a website creates a better user experience for ALL – not just mobile users.
If you’d like to learn more about creating a mobile-first design for your practice, reach out to your Page 1 Solutions Internet marketing consultant or contact us at 800-368-9910.