It’s completely natural to want to approach your web design 'desktop first' - when you plot out your best content ideas the instinct is to go big. You're itching to impress with a great looking website that promotes the heart of your business, and for that you want a big canvas.
However, although a striking desktop presence is important, focusing on achieving that - rather than optimisation for mobile - neglects the behaviour of a significant portion of site visitors.
An astounding amount of traffic is generated by users on mobile devices: 65% of all digital media time is spent on them. Arguably, desktop use is now secondary. The affordability of smartphones and popularity of tablets suggests this percentage is unlikely to decrease.
For website design, it makes sense to start from the bottom up. Below are three reasons the mobile first design method works so well for inbound marketing.
Mobile first means content first: make content work in its most limited form, and your message will translate well across all devices.
When people visit your website via mobile, they'll have less patience to wade through a sea of irrelevant content to find what they are looking for.
And their impression of your site matters greatly. 52% of users say a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company. Can you afford to lose that much of your audience?
Users prefer a mobile-friendly site, and they are highly driven by goals. If a mobile user is on your site, they have good reason to be.
As they're on the move, your audience will check reviews, price compare, and read blogs to find out what questions they should have about the product or service they're considering buying. Modern consumers research and cross-reference thoroughly: 82% of smartphone users will perform a search query on their phone before making a purchase decision in store.
With mobile access, the online world is always in reach. This can work to your advantage.
Being able to answer consumers’ questions without making them work for it bolsters trust and encourages visitors to spend more time on your site.
This is beneficial because research shows that each page your audience visits increases the odds of them contacting or buying from you:
- One page = 5 - 8%
- Two pages = 8 - 12%
- Three pages = 12 - 25%
- Four pages = 25 - 40%
User testing is a good way to establish whether visitors can follow information trails and find the content they desire with ease. Device-specific content can be created by developing an understanding of your buyer personas and envisioning the scenario your site visitor might be in.
Today's mobile audience appreciates a convenient and seamless experience, so focus on user goals and remove obstacles from their way.
Best practices for improving user flow:
- Break large sections of text into smaller, scannable chunks.
- Don't overwhelm the user with surplus information.
- Consider using pictures and infographics instead of text.
- Mobile use is often a one-handed operation. Place links somewhere easy to click and make it clear where to find further information. Highlight data directly related to common user goals.
- Keep brand taglines short and clear. A bugbear of mine is visiting sites and struggling to understand what the company does; jargon is not as valuable as transparency.
- Use smart fields and progressive profiling. Reusing previously submitted data to automate field population will improve UX and save users time.
- Don’t interrupt users. They simply won't have the tolerance.
- Design around interruption. Your users are on-the-go, and life gets in the way. Give them a good reason to return and make it easy for them to pick up where they left off. Clear navigation, search bars and smart profiling will help in that respect.
Use page optimisation to keep your site speedy. If you can achieve low load times for mobile then your desktop site will benefit from equally healthy page loads. This will make Google, and site visitors, happy.
Pagination is sometimes used to inflate page numbers and boost SEO rankings - but this can be done to the detriment of user experience. Put simply, it's annoying. Loading several pages to find information that would more easily be gathered in one place is inconvenient and will cause visitors to abandon ship. Get rid of all encumberment.
The biggest causes of a sluggish page are easy to fix. Optimise your images by saving for web; this will dramatically reduce file size (and therefore load time). You can decrease the quality of an image considerably before the visual integrity is compromised.
301 redirects are also a culprit. As much as possible, avoid forcing internet browsers to sift through old destinations to find the right page - it slows them down and creates a barrier to entry.
Mobile content marketing will force you to be ruthless with your optimisation.
More site visits
Mobile first design allows you to spend more time with your potential customers; a streamlined design will reduce bounce rates and encourage return visits.
Mobile has changed the rulebook for how people interact with businesses. In this reality, your audience has the world at their fingertips. The way they shop, as well as the way marketers engage, has evolved.
The truth remains that the single most fatal design flaw is a failure to provide the information your buyer personas came looking for.
Links to pages and articles should be scrutinised for relevance, and the use of strategically placed content offers can help create the conditions that encourage people to move deeper into your website.
How are you moving your website visitors from one page to another? Are you giving them access freely? Do they have reason to stay? These questions should motivate your mobile first design.
Visual appeal is not the only thing to take into consideration when it comes to inbound website design - sometimes the greatest victory is found in getting out of your visitor’s way.