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With the development of 4G, and then, with the current branching of the 5G network and mobile technology, the conditions have been created for the high-speed Internet to become available to a large number of people.
Today, using mobile phones, we can do everything that was unthinkable until a few years ago: surfing social networks, searching online stores, ordering food, paying bills, reading books… Simply, many everyday activities have moved online.
Only eight years ago, only 16.2% of visits on average came from a mobile phone, while, by the end of 2025, that percentage is predicted to reach more than 72%. If you own a website and have Google Analytics, you can easily see for yourself these statistics. If your website isn’t mobile-first, it’s time to become one.
If you haven’t encountered the term mobile-first yet, you certainly will in the near future. This approach to website and web application development has become extremely important in recent years, as it focuses on features and design for mobile devices.
What exactly does this mean and what’s the difference compared to previous designs that included mobile devices? ‘Isn’t my website already responsive?’ you’ll wonder.
In fact, in this lies the biggest misconception. What’s the difference between the terms responsive and mobile-first? The key difference is in the approach, i.e. the starting point from which building a website sets off. With a responsive approach, the UX/UI is made first for the desktop, then adapts to the mobile but with mobile-first, the UX/UI is made first for the mobile device.
Why Is UX and UI Important for the Whole Mobile-First Story?
To answer this question we must first understand the basics – what’s UX and what’s UI. UX – or User Experience design – aims to make the website or application close to the user, i.e. for the user to easily navigate and surf through the website content easily. If that’s the case, the user will want to visit this website again.
UI – or User Interface design – is what we see while using the application, such as font, color schemes, images and spaces, icons, buttons, etc. For display on a mobile phone, all these elements can’t be the same as for display on a desktop because the eye reacts differently to a large viewing area, and differently to a smaller one.
So, if your website is clear, well-structured, and practical when you visit it from your desktop – make visitors from mobile phones have the same experience. Remember the statistics from the beginning of the article – there are as many as 72 % of those visitors. And forget about just ‘repackaging’ because it only wastes extra time. Modern digital communication channels are mobile-first!
What’s the Problem With ‘Repackaging’?
Let’s take the example of a website with a lot of functionality and effects that were done primarily for the desktop, and then only that version is transferred to the phone. Such a website will have a lot of elements that are non-functional on the phone, which makes it difficult to load and which makes the user experience from the phone bad. Therefore, such a website will be worse positioned by Google.
How seriously this is taken by Google is also shown by the fact that from March 2021 (the initial deadline was September this year) its search engine will make mobile-first indexing unique, i.e. that all websites will be indexed based on data collected by smartphone Googlebots.
Currently, indexing depends on assessing whether a website is mobile-first or not, so mobile-first websites are scanned by smartphone Googlebots, while others are scanned by standard bots. Switching to unique mobile-first indexing means that those who have poor performance of a website or application on a mobile phone and who have so far been focused on a desktop display can expect changes in the position of their website in the search results in the coming period.
On the other hand, mobile-first access means that you need to run websites and web applications primarily for the phone. This allows you to have a website or web app that loads extremely fast, with the functionalities you need for your phone. After you do this, you upgrade the website to display on tablets and desktops.
Instagram is one of the best examples of this. When accessing Instagram from the browser on your phone and the browser on your computer, the layout you’ll see is almost identical. Websites created in this way generally provide better loading speeds as well as content that’s accessible.
- Google favors websites made with this and similar techniques, which is one of the two ways to create websites, and answers a very important question ‘How to build a website?’ We’re sure you want to be better positioned in Google search results, don’t you?
- The reasons are simple – such websites load faster and users like them more. Even when you’re well-positioned, if users don’t have good visibility or the content form isn’t convenient for them to use, they will quickly leave the website, which further signals to Google that something is still wrong.
- Google now uses two types of crawlers. Some are scanning the mobile version of the website, while others scan the desktop version. But, from March next year, only data collected by smartphone Googlebots will be used for positioning on Google. In other words, all websites will be treated as if they were created primarily for mobile devices.
- Between 65% and 75% of Internet visits are via mobile phone.
For the sake of comparison, imagine the advantages of those e-shops that had their online sales even before the coronavirus pandemic, compared to those that have just now opened them by force of circumstances.
Can you imagine how much have those who have already worked out this in time benefited? So, are you willing to ignore trends and stubbornly stick to some postulates that technology and algorithms trample on, or embrace new trends? We know the answer, and we’re sure you know it, too!