What Your Developer, Designer or Agency may not know can hurt your business

Mobile First Website Development Dashboard Interactive
Mobile first isn’t just a new term applied to an older concept. It’s a change in how sites are designed, and it may help your site rank higher than the competitions’ sites in search engine results.

Isn’t mobile first the same thing as mobile friendly? Or how about responsive design? If you think all three terms – responsive, mobile-friendly, and mobile-first – mean the same thing, read on.

Some website designers and developers use the terms interchangeably. Business owners who do not understand the differences often end up with something that does not meet their expectations, and that they would not have approved had they known the difference. In effect, they are paying for 2 – 5 year-old technology to compete against current standards and this happens far, far too often.

This is due to the level of expertise of many website designers and developers. As with many professions, some service providers are more knowledgeable than others and some are more skilled than others. Many do not fully understand the differences and continue to design and develop based on their comfort level. It’s essential to understand the distinction among the terms and why Mobile First is the only standard for today and the foreseeable future.

The Evolution of Website Design for Mobile Devices

Back when only a handful of people had mobile devices, most websites were designed for desktop users. As cellphones and eventually, smartphones became common, savvy marketers developed responsive websites. The coding inside these websites could detect the device reading the site and present the best user experience for the device.

The problem with responsive sites, however, is that depending on the device that is ‘reading’ the style sheet, multiple complications can occur. Buttons that look great on a desktop may be too close together to quickly press with a fingertip on a smartphone. Images that look great on a large monitor may take forever to scroll past on a small screen and so on.

Mobile-friendly sites are developed to provide an even better user experience. These sites were often pared down to essentials with the assumption that mobile users weren’t interested in all the extras their desktop-using counterparts accessed.

However, that still presented problems. It ended up shaving off too much on sites. Users always wanted content-rich experiences on mobile devices.

Today, instead of building for desktops first and taking things away to make the site usable on mobile devices, mobile first builds the site primarily for mobile devices. In 2019, mobile devices accounted for almost 50% of search traffic worldwide. Even if the majority of your customers aren’t going to your site today on their mobile devices, the chances are good that they will in the future.

Why Is Mobile First Important?

Google has made it clear that it values mobile-first sites over those that are not mobile first. This means that if you’re still using a website designed for a desktop and retrofitted for mobile devices, you may be missing an essential part of search engine optimization that can boost your site’s place on the search engine ranking pages.

Five Benefits of Mobile First Websites

  1. Higher organic search engine rankings: As noted, Google awards higher marks to mobile-first websites. Your site will rank higher, all things being equal with competitor sites, if it’s a true mobile first website.
  2. Better online visibility: Higher organic position on the search engine results page means greater visibility. This should translate to more leads, sales, and revenues. 75% of clicks go to the link in the first position of search engine results.
  3. Increased conversion rates: Conversion rates among shoppers using smartphones are 64% higher than for those using desktops.
  4. Enhanced brand clarity: Smaller screens require a focused, clear design. There’s not a lot of room for bells and whistles, and you must get to the point quickly in the headline and the copy. This forces the site to be clear and concise so that mobile users can scan the site quickly and find what they need. This creates a better user experience, which again encourages more leads or sales and repeat visitors.
  5. Builds a Stronger website foundation: 86% of Americans now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. A mobile-first site creates a stronger foundation for smartphones and tablet users. It will also work well for those using laptops, so you’re considering all markets and putting the emphasis on the largest one first when you design for mobile users.

Design for Mobile First

Many new websites continue to be designed as “responsive” rather than optimized for mobile viewing first. This is avoidable, given Google’s emphasis on mobile-first design.

Think of a car as an example. If you want a fuel-efficient vehicle that can travel safely at 80 miles per hour on a highway, you don’t buy a 1970’s Chevy and retrofit the engine and tires to sort of, kind of, make it better. You buy a fuel-efficient vehicle, with some power, manufactured for today’s energy and safety standards.

The same is true of websites. Instead of taking an old, slow-loading site that’s five years old and trying to make it mobile-friendly by improving load speed and shrinking the pictures, you’re better off building a new website, on a new platform, that’s ready for the smaller screens and faster load times demanded on mobile devices.

Dashboard Interactive keeps you up-to-date with the latest trends in the world of internet marketing. If you would like to discuss a mobile-first site for your business, please call us at 763-242-2454. Our team includes expert programmers, designers, writers, and marketers who can help you achieve your business’ internet marketing goals.