Fun fact: an estimated 100 million people access the internet via a tablet or smartphone. Not-so-fun fact: if your website isn’t built with mobile-first user experience in mind, you’re losing out to businesses that do have a mobile-first website.
To put this into a broader context: by 2021, almost 54% of U.S. retail e-commerce sales will come from mobile. That’s nothing to sneeze at, by far—and that’s just in retail alone. When you look at those numbers, it’s very likely that mobile internet usage will only increase, making mobile-first design a requirement, not an option.
Today, we’re laying out the biggest reasons you should invest in a mobile-first user experience approach for your website.
Mobile-First User Experience: A Quick & Easy Definition
Before we get into the importance of mobile-first user experience, let’s dive into what it is and what it isn’t.
Mobile-first user experience is a strategy for building your website around the user.
Mobile-first user experience isn’t the same as mobile-responsiveness. The two share some similarities, but mobile-first is a strategy first and foremost. Mobile responsiveness refers to the technical side of building a website for desktop users first and then adjusting it to also work on a mobile device.
Mobile-first user experience design starts with the mobile website first, since that’s where so many users are searching for answers. A mobile-first design uses a mobile-responsive framework, but it’s still a strategy for building the site itself. By opting for a mobile-first approach, you’re considering the needs of your users as they navigate your website.
Mobile websites have been pushed to the side for years in favor of building a desktop site first. Designing the website desktop first, with all of its features and content, and then trying to fit it all into a mobile site, is inefficient and sacrifices content. As internet usage on mobile devices increases, it makes sense to develop an approach that reflects the times.
Why Mobile-First Matters
Now that you know what mobile-first user experience means, it’s time to dive into why it matters for you and your business’s digital presence. If you want to attract users, convert them into customers and offer an experience like no other, the mobile-first approach is the way to go.
You’ll Be Where Your Users Are
Technology is advancing faster and faster, and users are changing their habits. The “retail-pocalypse” caused by the e-commerce boom and the rise of Amazon illustrates just what happens when businesses fail to adapt and evolve. Beloved department store chains and industry titans are now defunct or fully online.
Mobile-first user experience is built with evolving consumer habits in mind. Instead of thinking of mobile-first design as just another “part” of your website, think of it as designing for a new channel for your business. A mobile-first user experience accounts for site speed, content and the viewport into account.
When your users enter your website, they want answers to their questions or a solution to their problems. Overloading them with content isn’t necessarily the best strategy. Rather, the action-based approach of mobile-first design guides the user down a path to find their answer or solution and engage them.
Mobile-First Is Necessary for Your SEO
Google has been indexing mobile websites since 2016. “Indexing” simply means Google looks through your entire website and all of its pages so they can accurately rank it in the search engine. Google uses keywords and metadata in order to do this, and it’s the backbone of search engine optimization.
Google has expanded mobile-first indexing since 2016. As of 2020, Google announced that it will use mobile-indexing for all websites starting in September. If you have a website that only works on desktop, you may be impacted by mobile-first indexing. Google will still index your site, but it won’t be able to see what’s on your website. You may lose out in ranking to your competitor’s optimized, mobile-first websites. That means mobile-first user experience design isn’t optional—it’s essential.
You’ll Give Users What They Need
Mobile-first user experience design starts with user behavior. Your users need an answer to a question or a solution to a problem, so putting them first will make for a better overall experience. User behavior can guide the content for your site and its architecture.
When you design your website with this approach, you end up with a site that works with the user and gives them exactly what they needed in the first place. Mobile-first design best practices and principles can make it easier for users to navigate the site with simplicity in mind.
Concise website copy, short lead-capture forms and speedy loading times will keep users on your site and give them an overall better experience. Add in a catchy call-to-action button and your website will become a conversion machine.
Investing in mobile-first user experience is the best way to boost your website’s conversion rate and your overall digital presence. Mobile internet usage will only grow in the future and using this approach for your website design will bring your business where your users and customers are.
Your website is like a digital billboard for your business. Investing the time and effort into making it the best it can be is required to keep up with your competition. Cutting corners or skimping on it now can have negative consequences for the future of your business. Instead, being proactive about your business’s website and designing it for the user can show a massive return on your investment in web traffic, new leads and customers.