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Thinking "Mobile First" for Your Website Redesign
Posted on April 23rd 2014
If you've been thinking about a website redesign, chances are good that you've been reading about various techniques to optimize your site for mobile devices. In order for your site to be successful, it's extremely important to consider how your website will look and how your message will be conveyed on the smallest of screens.
Why, you ask? For starters, a total of 77 percent of mobile searches happen at home or at work despite the fact that these are locations where users generally have access desktop or laptop computers. Basically, that means that the idea of being "mobile" while using a mobile device doesn't really exist. People use every device, in every location, in every context.
The second thing to note is that bounce rates are 9.56 percent higher for mobile website visitors than for desktop visitors. Meaning that despite all those mobile searches, users are not getting the mobile experience they want.
These two statistics suggest that businesses are failing to optimize their websites for mobile. The solution? A mobile first content strategy.
Develop Using Mobile First
Responsive web design and mobile web optimization are all about the ability to access a single source of content across a variety of devices. Many approach this by developing content for the largest version of their website (desktop & laptop) and then scaling that content down to fit mobile devices. More often than not, this involves simplifying pages by removing text or images completely. In the past, as long as mobile devices were used by a minority, this was a seemingly adequate approach; however, this is no longer the case.
Now, that more than half of all Internet searches are carried out on mobile devices, it seems wrong to hide any of your website content from so many visitors. Your content strategy for mobile shouldn't be to provide a condensed version of your website to your visitors. Think of your content as a concrete aspect of your website that can be moved, but never changed. Start your web design process by creating content for small screens and then shifting it around as you gain more screen space.
Distinguish Between Long- and Short-Form Content
Another part of thinking mobile first in your content strategy is to recognize the difference between long- and short-form content. Mobile design does not necessarily denote the need for short-form content; there are advantages and disadvantages for both long-form and short-form. With the former, you have the ability to create more detailed content that demonstrates your expertise on a subject and has a higher value for your audience. This can be beneficial for showing algorithms like Google Panda that your website is of high quality, which leads to higher rankings on search results.
The obvious disadvantage of long-form content is that some readers may not be motivated to read lengthy posts or content, particularly on mobile devices. You should decide whether certain topics would be best presented in a single long-form article or smaller bite-size pieces when planning your mobile design.
Know Your Audience
One of the best ways to address the kind of content and the length of content you should be incorporating is to get to know your customers and prospects. Before you embark on your new website or redesign, here are a few important things to consider:
- The percentage of your audience accessing your website through mobile devices
- The type of mobile devices visitors are primarily using (tablets or smartphones)
- What action users are taking on your site
- What content visitors are accessing, including its type, format, and length
- The time users are spending on your website
The more you know about your audience, the better you can plan your successful mobile design strategy. When undergoing a website redesign or new build, it is your job to get your content out there in whichever format your audience wants to consume it. Your users will decide how, when, and where they want to access your site, but it is your responsibility to think mobile first and deliver a good experience that will help those first-time visitors transition into returning customers.