Mobile-First Design In 2019: Optimize Your Site
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Mobile-First Design 2019: Optimize Your Site

As you read this article, it's highly likely that you're doing so from a mobile device right now. Mobile-first design has been one of the biggest game changers to ever cross the landscape of web development and internet marketing.

The importance of mobile-first is paramount as more and more people are glued to their phones rather than their desktop devices.

  • 63% of online traffic from the US comes from smartphones and tablets (Stone Temple).
  • 52.2% of web traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones in 2018 (Statista).
  • The mobile market share worldwide is 52.1% compared to the desktop market share of 44.2% (Statcounter).
  • 58% of searches are mobile device based (Hitwise).

And yet, for some reason, we still have some developers designing websites the old way and forcing it to work for a new medium. But it doesn't have to be that way at all.

Last year, Google made it startlingly clear that mobile-first is the way to go.

What’s The Difference Between Mobile-First And Mobile-Responsive?

For some people, interchanging mobile-responsive and mobile-first is doable, but there are technical differences that set the two apart from each other. For instance, their approaches, strategies, and methods.

Mobile-responsive web design uses CSS to adjust the site to the device that it's viewed on. Coding is far more complex, and for the most part, the design places heavy emphasis on desktop needs rather than mobile. In a nutshell, sites are built primarily for desktop users and then, they are made to fit mobile devices later.

On the other hand, mobile-first is considered a design strategy. Of course, it makes use of a mobile-responsive framework, but it recognizes mobile users' needs first. The former design method is reversed. Instead, developers design a website while considering the needs of mobile users first before desktop.

How To Optimize Your Site For Mobile-First Design

Whether your site is focused on restaurants, health care, eCommerce, real estate, etc., Google's mobile-first index calls for mobile implementation that will help you achieve an effective mobile representation for an online business.

Optimizing for mobile-first includes best practices that involve web development and design, technical SEO, and a website that stays in-the-know of Google's rapidly changing nature.

1. Using Responsive Design

It's the mobile-first era. That means the days of using separate m-dot websites are gone—or not very advisable. In addition to being confusing, multiple URLs have a tendency to create duplicate content issues if they aren't optimized properly.

Mobile-first calls for the implementation of responsive design. This method of designing uses what is known as a media query (a CSS3 module that lets content rendering adapt to certain conditions, like screen resolution).

The biggest benefit is that you won't run into duplicate content issues that usually crop up in m-dot websites.

2. Setup Your WordPress For Mobile

There are tons of plugins available for WordPress. You don't have a shortage of plugins to choose from when it comes to finding functions that will increase mobile compatibility.

Plugins highly recommended by the experts include W3 Total Cache, Duda Mobile, and other plugins that minify CSS and HTML.

3. Increase The Site Speed By Using Codes

High-definition images are in hot demand, and undoubtedly, they make your website look good. But, aside from compressing images you upload on WordPress, you can code your images instead— prioritizing site speed.

It's very small, and most likely you wouldn't notice it unless you know the inner structure of the site. But, a massive amount of images being coded instead works wonders when they are added up after completion.

Coding an image is advised if the picture you're about to use isn't really necessary.

4. Integrate Content In Desktop And Mobile

This isn't just about web design, it's all about User Experience too. Most notably, it's confusing to have drastically different content on desktop and on mobile. You want to ensure that your customers have an easy time gathering information about your business and what you do.

Again, the best programming method to make this happen is by using responsive design. It's all about seamlessly transitioning designs between various platforms and devices.

5. Use Schema.org Structured Data

Mobile-first has a heavy reliance on a schema. It's important for pointing out pages on the website that have structured information that search engines and customers alike would need to see. This is especially necessary for eCommerce sites.

Having structured data gives search engine bots an easier time understanding the data, while also enhancing your visibility. And in turn, translate that into featured snippets, which is good for both mobile and voice search.

6. Do Away With The Flash Videos

To be fair, this practice should be commonplace by now. But there are still some sites out there that make use of it. Flash videos are no longer largely relevant, ever since Adobe bought Macromedia and disabled the practice.

It's all about HTML5 video now. It offers:

  • Full browser support
    From Internet Explorer to Google Chrome and even Safari. HTML5 videos are supported by modern and popularly used browsers.
  • Support for mobile devices
    HTML5 videos are supported by mobile devices. It does that without support for mobile devices or having to rely on plugins.

7. Important Information Placed Above The Fold

Mobile devices are all about scrolling endlessly. And with that kind of motion in mind, it stands to reason that placing important information above the fold is still very relevant.

Above the fold is important because:

  • People see it first, and you need to give them a reason to keep scrolling from there.
  • It attracts the most attention.
  • Visitors spend a huge chunk of their time there.

Don't underestimate the power of people seeking out solutions for their dire needs. So, keep optimizing for that area of psychological benefit and don't forget, also, to balance the use of white space when working with your Call To Actions.

8. Check Your Website For Errors Regularly

No matter how well you optimized it, there will always be weaknesses that you will spot later on after the development stage is complete. So, constantly and consistently check your website for glaring errors in coding and mobile implementation.

The Takeaway

Desktop usage has fallen behind mobile use, and responsive design is no longer enough to keep mobile users on the site. You need to put them (your mobile users) first, and Google's love and your customer retention will follow.

Mobile-first design doesn't exactly entail reinventing the entire process. It's actually more about revising how you create images, content, CTAs, and establish communication.

A mobile site not properly optimized for continued mobile usage rise in 2019 will cost your business in the most unsavory ways.

So, if you haven't made the decision to optimize your mobile-first site yet, then what are you waiting for?

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