Mobile-First Responsive Web Design

We recently looked at the potential impact of the Google Mobile-Friendly Update on your website’s search engine rankings. Plain and simple: non mobile-friendly webpages will now see a decrease in organic mobile search traffic.

Maybe you’ve since realized your site is taking a hit in mobile search and want to move to a responsive web design. Or maybe it’s just time to refresh your outdated website look and feel anyway. Whatever you reasons, we know that embarking on a website redesign can be both an exciting and daunting endeavor.

Before you get started, we have one angle for you to consider: Build your website for the mobile experience first.

Trend of Increasing Mobile Traffic

Traditionally, many people used to think about the desktop experience first and the mobile experience second (if at all). With the rapidly increasing rate of mobile users, the mobile experience must be front of mind in today’s digital landscape.

GFM Google Analytics Mobile Sessions DataFor example: In a year-over-year-by-month comparison, our own GFM website saw a 36% increase in mobile sessions from July 2014 to July 2015, a rising trend that we have no doubt will continue.

From an SEO perspective, Jon Mueller at Google recently said, “You do not need a desktop-friendly website to rank well on desktop and that as long as your mobile site renders on desktop, that would be just fine.“ Basically, he’s saying that having a mobile-only site will still rank just fine in desktop search results.

However, from a user experience perspective, we think that the best approach is to be thoughtful about both mobile and desktop in the web design process. Considering the recent trends and our own data, we know that we must have a good user experience for those on a mobile device, right? Absolutely, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of a good desktop experience. So how do we effectively marry the two?

Consider a Mobile-First Responsive Web Design

Developing a mobile-first responsive web design offers multiple benefits:

  •  A cleaner, simpler mobile design that translates to a cleaner, simpler desktop design
  • Concise, targeted content written for a mobile audience that removes unnecessary content that often ends up on desktop-first sites
  • Better user experience and faster load times regardless of device
  • Easier website management and maintenance

If you’re on a mobile device right now, you’ll notice that this blog has adjusted to fit the screen size of your device and you don’t have to pinch or pull the screen to see different pieces of content. If you’re on a desktop, grab the side of your browser with your cursor and shrink it down. See how the site changed to accommodate the changing browser size?

Responsive design allows your site to “respond” to any size device and provide a positive user experience for all regardless of their chosen device, all without requiring you to maintain duplicate sites, URLs or chunks of content.

So, better user experience + simpler website management. Win, win; right? We think so!

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