The shocking new trend that could leave your website outdated and unsearchable

The knowledge that could save your business.

New trends, technology, and analytics are all saying the same thing: we’re living in an increasingly mobile first world.

The State of the Mobile Address

According to Stone Temple’s report Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic in 2019, the data shows the majority of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. Here are a few vital facts from the report:

In 2018, 58% of site visits were from mobile devices.

Mobile devices made up 42% of total time spent online.

Mobile bounce rate came in at 50% (averages, across industries).

Here’s the undisputed truth: Mobile interfaces are improving and companies are searching for aesthetically-pleasing designs that are focused on providing an easier, user-friendly experience.

We all knew that already, but here’s the kicker: it’s not only important to have a mobile responsive site, it’s absolutely necessary. However, “responsive” is no longer the conversation. You need a site that’s designed with mobile in mind—first.“57% of Internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.”

Mobile users represent the largest source of traffic in nearly every industry.

“57% of Internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.”

No matter your chosen industry, if your company is still operating on an old, unoptimized, outdated user interface, it’s time to make the switch before it’s too late. The fact of the matter is this, while your website is becoming unsearchable—your competitors are already making the necessary shift.

The writing is on the wall.

If you’re failing to make the shift to a mobile first design, you’re making a decision that could cost your organization a successful future. And the biggest news? You won’t just be left behind by Google; failing to make the shift means you’ll be imminently left behind by your customers as well.

In fact, you’ll be lucky if they can even find you at all.

Toward the end of 2018, Google made a big announcement: mobile first indexing (using a website’s mobile version to index its pages) will become the default for all new web domains as of July 1, 2019.

Consider this your friendly wake-up call to either get with the program or get left behind.

For newly emerging businesses and organizations with outdated platforms, their registered website is being crawled by Google’s smartphone Googlebot, and its mobile-friendly content will be used to index its pages.

Google began boosting the rank of mobile responsive sites years ago, but in 2018, it officially added a signal to track page speed to aid in the determination of a website’s mobile search ranking.

In other words, if you don’t have mobile-friendly design, you won’t populate as a result on a Google search…or at least not for any number of pages after your competitors.

If you are one of the many with an outdated site, your rankings will continue to drop at a rapid pace.

If you’re reading this right after publication and you still don’t have a mobile first design, you have less than a month to update. No matter your chosen industry, if your company is still operating on an old, unoptimized, outdated user interface, it’s time to make the switch before it’s too late. While your website is becoming unsearchable—your competitors are already making the necessary shift.

So, what does mobile first really mean?

From a design context, it means your site needs to be designed to meet mobile trends before desktop.

It’s a change in the process. Instead of your new site being coded for desktop use to begin with, and then conforming to mobile standards after, your site actually needs to be designed for mobile interface first.

Of course, we aren’t advocating that desktop design is dead; for now, it is still very much a part of the conversation.

It’s been a decade since Luke Wroblewski coined the term mobile first. He realized that designers needed a new focus in order to stay ahead of the ever-changing current. Having researched a grandiose amount of data, Luke discovered rapidly growing trends toward increased (yep, you guessed it) mobile usage.

He was the trailblazer that began telling designers to level up, or they’d eventually level off.

A big ‘Thumbs Up’ for Thumbing!

Journey-driven design experts attest to one thing: the importance of a single filament. This gave birth to the term “thumbing,” or better said, the importance of thumb placement on mobile devices.

As increasingly hectic lifestyles merge with incessant demands for increased access to information, users not only prefer using one thumb on mobile devices—they require it.

As Sumit Dagar from UX Collective on Medium says (text slightly adapted for easier reading):

“Ubiquity of large screen devices and one-handed usage makes the bottom of a screen the prime real estate for placing critical buttons within user reach.”

This makes consideration of the “thumb zone,” a term coined in Steven Hoober’s research, an important factor in the design and development of mobile interfaces.

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

Great consideration should be given to “swipe up” gestures: i.e. closing an app, clicking navigation, selecting pages, or choosing buttons.

The experts suggest two sections: a top area (designated for content) and a bottom “thumb friendly” area—the navigation.

This is a radical change from what design experts have recommended in previous years.

“Good design doesn’t force users to pick up the device that we designers want them to pick up; good design gives users the best of what a company has to offer on the device that the user wants to use at that point in their journey.” Marli Mesibov

Building your site mobile first forces you to focus on only the most important data and actions within any application. Designers are restricted to a 320 x 480 pixel screen, forcing elimination of unnecessary elements within design and content. Businesses, by way of design experts, need to prioritize.

The end result creates a mobile experience that is focused on the tasks users really rely on, without unnecessary distractions or irrelevant information.

As Luke predicted in 2009, new mobile application platforms introduced capabilities that left PC-based web browsers in the dust.

Building mobile first allows designers and developers a diverse—and at the time, a relatively unchartered platform—for creating context-aware applications.  

“Design thinking begins with developing a deep understanding of your users and the problem you are trying to solve for them. Only by developing empathy for your users, can you design truly breathtaking solutions for their problems.” – Sampath Kumar

Mobile First is not the same as Mobile Responsive.

While mobile first and mobile responsive have some of the same key ingredients, they are not the same. In fact, the method, approach, and strategy for design and content is completely different.

If your marketing company is selling you a mobile responsive site, it’s critical you understand what’s at stake.

Mobile responsive refers to a design approach that adjusts the design to whatever device is being used. Typically, this involves designing for desktop users first, and then making the design compatible with and responsive to mobile users.

On the contrary, mobile first is a design strategy.

Sure, mobile first might use a responsive framework. But instead of designing for desktop usage and developing the site to respond to mobile users, the design team builds a website that considers the needs of the mobile users first.

If you’d like to know more about design trends for 2019 and why mobile first design has made its way to the top, stay tuned. We’ll be sharing a host of articles on the Bolder site to keep you up to date with everything you need to know, so that you can ask your marketing team the right questions.

If you’re ready for a mobile first website, give us a shout.

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