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What is a mobile-first website?
In 2010, Google surfaced their mobile-first strategy, signaling a wider paradigm shift—consumer online content consumption switching from primarily desktop usage to mostly mobile usage. In 2016, Google began rolling out their mobile-first index, which looked at mobile versions of websites first, and desktop versions second.
Designing a website to be mobile-first means you design it to first be consumed on a mobile device, second on a desktop. Designs are clean, minimal, and easy to interact with on a small screen.
The Shift to Mobile-First Website Design
In 2015, website traffic from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets outpaced web traffic on desktop devices for the first time. Since then, mobile usage has continually risen to the point where more than half of all internet website traffic comes from a mobile device. Consumers are spending more and more time on their mobile devices—according to the latest Meeker 2018 Internet Trends Report, time spent on mobile engaging with digital media has reached 3.3 hours a day for the average consumer.
About 91 percent of mobile users say access to content on a mobile device is critical, and most users will leave a site if they’re unable to immediately find what they’re looking for. Additionally:
- 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site (socPub)
- 57 percent of all US online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets (BrightEdge, 2017)
- 69 percent of smartphone users also say that they are more likely to buy from companies with mobile sites that easily address their questions or concerns (BrightEdge, 2017)
- People today have 2X more interactions with brands on mobile than anywhere else—that includes TV, in-store, you name it (Google, 2017)
- 50 percent of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones and will grow to 70 percent by 2020
- Three in four smartphone owners turn to mobile search first to address their immediate needs (Google, 2017)
Google’s Mobile-First Index
To respond to consumers’ increasing preference for mobile websites, Google implemented the mobile-first index, which now powers over half of Google’s search results. How it works is instead of crawlers reading the desktop version of the page, they now look at the mobile version. In simpler terms, Google crawls and indexes your web pages based on how they render on a mobile device instead of a desktop computer.
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