Having a Mobile-First Strategy

Is a “Mobile-First” Website Important for Your Business?

The future is here and happening at an increasingly fast rate. Smartphones and tablets have quickly become people’s personal pocket-sized computers. People are using these devices everywhere and that ultimately influences how they use websites, how they spend time on the Internet, and how they make decisions. Many marketers still underestimate mobile traffic and ignore today’s mobile trends, when in reality, these trends have become huge, game-changing opportunities for most businesses. So what is a mobile-first strategy and why should you care?

Mobile-first strategy is when a website is intentionally built so that users can interact with it from any device with the best possible user experience. Implementing a mobile-first strategy is also advantageous for search engine optimization (SEO). Some years ago, Google made an official announcement that it will prioritize mobile-friendly website rankings and penalize those that are not optimized for mobile. Below is a series of important factors to consider when visitors view your website on mobile devices:

  • Google – Google now favors mobile-friendly websites in its mobile search results. Over half of Google search traffic now comes from mobile devices, so mobile optimization should really be a priority.
  • Content – Prioritize what’s most important and remove any irrelevant content. Mobile devices have limitations, such as bandwidth and screen size. Content will always be king, especially in terms of providing value and improving your SEO as a result. But…keep in mind that mobile means more scrolling, so try to ensure that your content is not unnecessarily lengthy.
  • Navigation – Your website’s menu should never be too complex: keep it simple and easy to navigate. There needs to be enough space between menu links to compensate for fingers in place of a cursor.
  • Contact Forms – Minimize the amount of input users are required to do. Typing on a mobile device takes some time and users can easily make mistakes. Auto-complete, if used, can at least assist users to more quickly go through all typing-related steps.
  • Mobile-First Design Principles – Fingers are much larger than a cursor, so it’s vital to have enough space between clickable elements and buttons on small screens. Make sure that touch targets are at least 44×44 pixels, as Apple recommends. Google believes that touch targets should have a size of 48×48 pixels.
  • Touch, Not Clicks – Traditional mouse-hover design elements, such as flip boxes, simply do not translate or function as intended on mobile. The cursor is replaced with touchscreen interactions and the focus shifts from hovering and clicking to scrolling, swiping, and tapping events.
  • Make Interactions Clear – Hover effects become mostly obsolete on touchscreen devices, so it needs to be implicitly evident that any call-to-actions are clickable elements. So in addition to them needing to stand out, they also need to be large enough to be easily clicked. Follow the mobile design conventions advised in this blog to make it easier for visitors to intuitively understand how to interact with any website.
  • Complex Graphics ≠ Mobile-friendly – Images with fine detail, complex graphics, or landscape photos are great for the desktop experience, but do not translate or scale well for mobile devices. Using the same desktop browser-sized images that don’t downsize well for all the screen sizes can lead to poor site speed and frustrate users. As mobile devices are quickly becoming the main traffic for surfing the Internet, users are likely to abandon a website when a page takes too long to load, which is a sign of a large file size.
  • Rule of the Thumb – Most mobile users hold a device with only one hand and, more importantly, they rely on one thumb when using mobile apps, internet browsing, etc. Make the top-level menu, all the necessary controls, and common actions easily reachable by visitors who use one hand to ensure maximum usability of a website.

So is your website doing everything possible to produce the absolute best user experience on ALL devices? Is your site menu clean, simple, and easy to navigate on a touchscreen? Does your mobile site require the user to scroll endlessly? Are all user interactions as clear and concise as they can be? If not, it’s time to rethink your mobile-first strategy and put this knowledge to use. Don’t get left behind with the times, and if you need a little assistance to get there, the Ampersand team is always here to help!

Steve Deardorff

Steve Deardorff

I love learning new tricks and techniques which I can incorporate into building a better website, enhancing user experience.