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Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

 

Mobile First Strategy_Stats_New

Gone are the days when websites were developed for large screens of desktop computers or laptops. Today, everything has to be scaled down to fit smaller screens of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

With Google’s mobile-friendly update for websites as released on April 21, 2015, it has now become apparent for every webmaster or blogger to apply a mobile-first strategy for website development.

Developers now focus on mobile-optimised websites that work great on mobile phones and tablets, and then scale up perfectly for larger computer or laptop screens.

Let’s take a look at what mobile first web-design means, and its importance for websites, and how to start development of mobile-friendly websites.

What Does Mobile-First Approach Mean?

The ‘mobile first’ strategy for website development involves designing an online experience first for mobile devices and then optimizing it for scaling up to desktop and laptop computers.

It does not mean designing a website that works well on desktop computers and then adjusting it to be compatible with mobile phones or tablets. The mobile-first process is to design online websites specifically for mobile customers, keeping their dynamic behaviour, context and needs in perspective.

The user interface should suit mobile devices with easily readable text and easy navigation to the different sections of the site.

Why Go Mobile-First?

The number of mobile users has increased manifold and easily outnumbers the number of people that access websites on PCs or laptops.

According to a ComScore report, mobile devices generate more than 60% of the online traffic to websites. This percentage keeps on increasing with every passing quarter, and that has fuelled the need for every business to have mobile-friendly websites.

Mobile First Strategy

Source: ComScore

So, if you haven’t optimised your website yet, you need to get their sites scaled up for the smaller screens.

Today, the majority of internet users access social media via tablets or mobile phones. So, a new website shared on any social media platform with friends and colleagues is more likely to be viewed first on the screens of mobile devices.

If the site is not mobile-friendly and users are unable to view it correctly the first time around, then, they are less likely to recheck the website from their desktop or laptop. It is, therefore, obvious that any new website or blog needs to be designed and developed with a mobile-first strategy.

Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites in 2015

Now, it has become even more important to develop mobile-optimised websites because of the mobile-first update (known as mobilegeddon) from Google (in April 2015).

As per the update, any mobile-friendly website or blog has a better chance of appearing higher in Google search results on mobile devices as compared to sites that are not mobile-optimized.

Another reason for websites to move to mobile-optimised versions is the ever-growing trend of online shoppers preferring to use apps for shopping. The amount of time that is saved (by shopping on the move) along with the money saved through discount deals on the apps of famous eCommerce players has ignited the need to go mobile with websites on an immediate basis.

Any new eCommerce merchant has to ensure that the developed website is first compatible with mobile devices as the majority of the target audience will be tablet and smartphone users.

This need was further emphasised when Amazon reported around 60% online sales from mobile devices during shopping season in 2014 (source: CNET ).

Useful Tips for Mobile-First Site Development

It is necessary to have a fluid and responsive design instead of an adaptive one. This will ensure the site layout fits accurately for varied screen sizes of different mobile phones and tablets.

Another important task is to focus only on the core features and content, as mobile sites need to be developed within limited real estate.

So, unlike the screen real estate available with larger monitors and displays, web designers need to rethink their strategy while designing a mobile website from scratch. Anything that is not absolutely necessary for the mobile users can be removed from the site design to save space.

The preferable approach is to focus solely on content (images, text, forms) initially, followed by site beautification through the addition of CSS elements. Later, the focus should be to provide add-on features using JavaScript.

This progressive enhancement approach from content to styling to the presentation will add immense value to the mobile website.

So have you adopted the mobile-first approach for your websites already? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Mobile Search Optimization – Google’s Move to Change the Game

Mobile Search Optimization – Google’s Move to Change the Game

Google’s search engine algorithms are important on many counts. While all web developers know the basic SEO strategies, businesses need to be aware of how Google wants them to behave.

Mostly, the trend is of businesses look at exploring White Hat SEO, or SEO through ethics that Google approves, in a better way. The latest Google update just reinforces Google’s dominance in the search engine market. The Google Penguin update, for instance, was aimed at filtering spammy content and ensuring that quality content rank higher. Now, we see that Google has introduced the Mobilegeddon update that is rewarding websites, which are mobile friendly.

In fact, there is one interesting point that I would want to mention here. As early as 2013, Google’s Matt Cutt had stated how the company will now penalize companies with slower page loading times.  Yes, Google’s plan to move in this direction was evident for some time now – it was not a matter of if but when.

What Does The Mobilegeddon Update Mean?

The Mobilegeddon update is aimed to reward businesses with sites that are mobile friendly, helping them get better rankings in search results and be featured more prominently.

The change, effective from April 21, means that you will have to design a mobile friendly site sooner than later if you want to stay in the competition. The update seems to be much more important than all Google updates till date, including Google Panda and Penguin. Those in the web developer world would know that when these two updates were introduced, the rankings of many websites changed drastically – many for the worse. Some of these sites never managed to recover. So, what does this mean if you’re a website owner?

A Mobile-Friendly Site… Is Your Site One?

A mobile friendly site has a responsive design, a dynamic service, and separate URLs. You can check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page. to know how mobile friendly your site is.  While not perfect, the test is an indicator of how mobile friendly Google thinks your site to be. While the parameters by Google aren’t available (Google never discloses their algorithm how they rank websites because that can lead to its misuse), but we can figure out some expected developments nonetheless. Here is a roundup of the changes you can expect from the update.

Expect each page to be assessed individually

It all probability, Google will access each page individually. This means that all your web pages need to be mobile friendly and not just one – most popular searches will probably feature mobile friendly only pages.  This also means that if your website has both mobile friendly pages and desktop only pages, expect only the former pages to be promoted. However, most websites are either mobile friendly or not, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Drop in rankings

This is obvious – if your website is not mobile friendly, expect it to drop significantly in search results.

Real-time operation

This is a big development. Google is expected to update in real time. This means that if you do not have a mobile site ready yet – don’t worry. When you’re ready with one, expect Google to pick it up and reorganize the search engine rankings accordingly. However, do note that Google’s web crawlers do need to index your page. This can take a few days or even weeks at times – so expect delays the first time when you have your mobile site ready.

Search Results On Mobiles

Did you notice how search results differ in your mobile? For one, check out the local search results in your smart phone – they’re bound to differ from the one in your desktop. This development was a result of the Google Hummingbird update and the Mobilegeddom update is just one step further.

Why Did Google Bring Out The Update?

While we might be interested more in the changes Google brings with the update, an important factor is why Google chose to go the mobile way now. The reasons are simple – mobile growth has been phenomenal in the last few years and more people access the internet from their smartphones than their PC’s. Translate this into the fact that Google aims to enhance user experience, and rewarding mobile friendly sites was a natural option.

The development means that users can browse quickly on their smartphones and access all features of the site. A simple example would be with sites that still have Flash (yes, there still are some of them out there, though the advantages of having a Flash site is next to none). Mobile devices cannot play Flash and people accessing the site would not have been able to view the website content properly. Now, that is going to change with Google gathering search results that create the right user experience for the mobile user.

Here is a chart to survive the Mobilegeddon update.

Mobile_Search

Have you been affected yet by the Mobilegeddon update?  How many of our readers do have a mobile friendly site? If not, when are you planning to have one? Or do you feel that you don’t need one, yet?