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There is nothing more irritating than following a link from a search engine on your smartphone, only to be presented with an illegible website, or even worse, one that takes ages to load, especially a site that ranks high in a Google search.

The good news is that Google have changed their search algorithms and are actively testing to see whether any particular website renders quickly and legibly, and this in turn will afffect a website’s ranking in search results.

 

Mobile Usage Statistics

 

In October, 2016, mobile Internet access surpassed desktop access globally for the first time. While this has obviously been fed by the increased uptake of cheaper smartphones in third-world countries, and a dedicated drive by carriers to provide cheaper Internet access to the masses, it has also filtered into first-world countries where people are spending more time on their phones in transit to and from work, and during their breaks.

  1. 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site.¹
  2. Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.¹
  3. 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.¹
  4. Websites that load in 5 seconds on mobile see 25% more ad visibility and 70% longer session duration.¹

    OK, so how do I design for mobile?

     

    In the old days of the Internet, when mobile Internet-enabled devices were just coming on to the scene, the standard approach was to serve two versions of a website, one for desktop, and one for mobile. As I am sure you will agree, this is extremely resource intensive, and expensive.

    The new approach is, “Responsive Web Design (RWD), which is an approach to web design which makes pages render well on a variety of devices and window or screen sizes.”

    Linked to RWD is the premise that one should design for “Mobile First”, with unobtrusive JavaScript, and progressive enhancement (definition also courtesy of Wikipedia).

    This all starts to get very complicated as we dig deeper into RWD, but the basic premise is that a website should always work well on any mobile device, even on a slow 3G connection, and scale smoothly as the screen size and network speeds increase.

     

    I am using a Content Management System, isn’t that already optimised?

     

    While the overall shift of the big three in content management systems is towards mobile, and most professional theme developers focus heavily on mobile-first display of their themes, when coupled with any number of addons/plugins/modules that could be installed, a designer still needs to know the principles of mobile-first design, and it is not just the layout of your website that could be affecting your search ranking or user retention.

    If your page takes a long time to load on mobile, the possibility that a visitor may lose interest increases as each second passes. There are many factors affecting the loading speed of a page, right from congested servers and slow content delivery networks, through to uncompressed JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets.

    There was a report released a few years back stating 2018 as the year to be on the Internet, or your business would be dead in the water. It seems that prophecy is coming true as evidenced by the sudden collapse of some major high-street retailers in the UK.

    2018 is also the year to make sure your website is accessible from any mobile device, because that converts to better reputation, and an increased chance that users would recommend your business, as opposed to never recommending you at all.

    Sources:

    1. Impact – 38 Mobile Marketing Statistics to Help You Plan for 2018