The concept of mobile-first design is a relatively new one, but it has quickly turned from a forward-thinking way of web design to an absolute necessity for website owners in just a few short years. This is largely due to the changing way people use the internet.
Globally, 68.1% of all website visits in 2020 came from mobile devices, which was a substantial increase from 63.3% in 2019. Desktop users drove 28.9% of visits, while 3.1% of visitors came from tablets. However, desktop devices still do remain important, as although nearly 70% of all web visits are on mobile devices, more than half the total time spent online is from desktop computer users.
In the past, when Google indexed (or crawled) your website, it was doing so from the perspective of a desktop computer. Because of skyrocketing use of mobile devices, Google has decided to switch to mobile-first indexing, starting back in early 2018, with every site created after July 1, 2019 having MFI enabled by default. This means, instead, of Google indexing your website using the mobile version.
Essentially, this means Google will be (and is likely currently) using the mobile version of your page for indexing and ranking, rather than your desktop site. Today, we’ll go over why mobile-first indexing is important and how mobile-first design has already become the norm for businesses across the world.
What Does Mobile-First Design Mean?
The mobile-first approach prioritizes the design and development of websites for mobile device users first, before scaling up those elements for desktop or any other large-screen device.
Being mobile-first aims to reverse the workflow of designing for desktop and scaling down the design for mobile afterwards, which has become less practical as both browsing habits and device-of-choice has shifted to smartphones. This has been widely adopted as the norm for web design, prioritizing the devices that access the web the most and optimizing the experience for how we browse, shop, and interact online.
The Big Switch
In 2020, Google announced that they were going to officially switch over to mobile-first indexing and set the final roll out date for March 2021. While Google has scaled back the roll out date to be open ended in late 2021, there should be a great exodus of desktop first sites in the coming months as roughly 30% of all websites are still only optimized for the desktop first approach.
Let’s not also forget the switch in 2015, where Google began prioritizing mobile-friendly websites over those that were not in mobile search results. This change tweaked the way Google displays mobile search results. Websites that are optimized for mobile stand to rank better than those that don’t, and this will only increase over time as the entire web shifts toward mobile as it’s platform of choice
Benefits of Mobile-First
1. Enhanced Visitor Experience
When your clients, customers or vendors visit your page, a mobile-friendly experience that is fast and easy to navigate demonstrates that you value your users’ experience and interactions with your company and it also gives a great first impression to potential leads. No one wants a sluggish experience on the device they use the most — people are busy, and they hope to find the information they need quickly and easily when they visit your website.
Mobile-first design is the standard, and your visitors have already come to expect the same seamless experience that they get on other websites on yours as well.
2. Optimizing for Mobile is Easier Than Ever
Mobile friendly websites are the standard, not only because of Google indexing and search engine ranking, but because responsive web design has made mobile optimization much simpler and more accessible for both designers and business owners.
The ability to make changes to your site, update it with relevant content that speaks to your audience, and optimize it for search engines is crucial to ensuring that your page shows up in the search engine results page, or SERPs. Mobile-first design streamlines many aspects of this process so that you can focus on making your site the best mobile experience through design techniques like lazy loading, image scaling, and more.
3. Mobile-First Content Is More Shareable
Whether it’s a new blog post, links to social media, or a giveaway you’re promoting on your site, ensuring that your content is mobile-friendly is crucial to getting your links shared. Desktop-only pages do not translate well to mobile, and sharing links from the former to the latter offers a subpar experience to anyone receiving your links.
Even if a customer or client wants to share your links with their friends, family, or colleagues, the information received will be in a format that is ultimately boxed-in to one ecosystem and is unappealing to all others who may view it on their primary device (HINT — it’s the one in their pocket).
4. Google Prefers Mobile-First Content
As we have touched on, Google is moving toward a mobile-first future, in all respects. This means that sites are crawled and ranked based on their mobile experience, and that Google’s algorithm will continue to favor mobile-first sites for their experience and their relevance to the way that consumers browse the web and use Google’s search engine.
By optimizing your content for mobile in terms of formatting and content, you are able to use SEO to your site’s full potential, offering you the immediate benefit of clearing Google’s mobile-first hurdles and allowing you to focus on rising through the ranks based on fresh content and a fast site. When you optimize for mobile, you ensure that no matter what device your prospective customers are using to find your site, Google is happy to consider it for a higher rank in the search results.
Discover the Future of Web Design with HPX
When you trust the experts at HPX Media with designing your website, you can rest easy knowing that your site is tailored for your audience, kept current with updates and security features, and optimised to run at its full capacity.
Everything we design is custom-tailored to your business at the same level of design found in larger agencies. We have an eye not only for what looks good for your business but, perhaps more importantly, what will work well for your traffic.
If your plans involve a new website or taking some of these things off of your to-do list, schedule a free consultation to see what HPX Media can do so you can get back to what you love.