What Does Mobile First Mean for Your Website?

The trend to be mobile centric seems to be present everywhere on the web, and this is certainly something to consider when designing a website. More searches are occurring on smartphones than any other screen size in many vertical.

Google has rolled out a new search algorithm that is a mobile-first index. As their confidence grows in the results of the index, it’s expected this would be the only search index Google uses.

However, focusing entirely on a mobile centric site – instead of one that’s just mobile friendly – could cause many of your visitors to look elsewhere. Here are a few points to think about when considering your website’s design.

Mobile Searches vs. Desktop Browsing

While it’s true that a large percentage of searches are done via mobile devices, not everyone is looking for information that way. It’s important to look at your site’s user data. If roughly 30 percent of your users find your website via their smartphones, that means the remainder of your visitors are browsing your site on their desktops, laptops, or tablets.

If you design your website solely with a mobile first focus, then many of your users may not have as inviting an experience. A diminished user experience is less than ideal.

mobile users

Mobile First vs. Mobile Friendly

While it’s still imperative to have a mobile-friendly site, don’t forget to think about the goals you have for those who visit your website. If you’re a busy restaurant and want to make your hours and menu quickly accessible, then a mobile centric design could be perfect.

On the other hand, an eCommerce business might get a lot of traffic that consists of people who wish to browse and make purchases on a larger screen; in that case, the goal would be to create a website that is facilitates such browsing and makes it easy for customers to make purchases. So while the site should still be mobile-friendly, the company is optimizing their site for the buying experience on a larger screen.

Brand and user consistency is important for a business. You want your customers and visitors to have a consistent, high quality experience when interacting with your company. It’s generally not recommended to have a radically different design between your website on larger screens and on smartphones. But that doesn’t mean they have to be identical. Just because Google is becoming increasingly mobile centric, doesn’t mean your business should follow the same path.

Think About the Goals for Your Site Visitors

If you want to revamp your website so that it meets the needs of your visitors, review your site’s analytics to help determine how much you should embrace a mobile first strategy. You can use Google analytics to discover how many of your users access your site on their mobile devices. If many of them are using other types of devices to find and view your website, then you may only want to make a few changes to implement overall responsiveness.

Mobile search will likely continue to increase in popularity among the consumers of today. That doesn’t mean you should design a website with only smartphone users in mind. Whether your site is mobile centric – putting the needs of mobile users first – or mobile friendly – mobile-responsive design that still fully meets the needs of your non-mobile users – should depend on your goals for your customers, as well as how they prefer to access your website.

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