When we talk about websites—viewing websites, designing websites, using websites, searching websites—the first thing we should be talking about is mobile. Mobile-first design, usability, functionality, and experience.
While the concept of mobile-first has been trending in big business for a couple years now, it hasn’t been a topic I’ve heard a lot about in small biz circles.
I might have missed it; maybe I’ve had my eyes pointed in other directions and missed this huge topic trending amongst my Insta and Facebook fams. But I don’t think so.
To get the conversation started, I want to share some research with you, as well as some of my own observations. Because really—we need to focus on this.
The Mobile-First Trends
Now, ya’ll know that smartphones have changed the world as we know it. No matter which side of the subject you’re on (it’s the best thing ever vs. it’s ruining society), there’s no question that it’s made accessing the web easier.
In previous years, I’ve heard discussions about how mobile is getting bigger and bigger—and that we need to jump on board. I agreed. My sites have been and are all mobile friendly for a couple years now.
But there’s been an important change in the last year that makes mobile-first not only smart, but necessary.
[clickToTweet tweet=”More than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones –We Are Social @wearesocial” quote=”“More than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones” –We Are Social”]
Every year, We Are Social and Hootsuite team up to put together a trend report on all things digital. And this January, their study found that we’ve hit the critical mass: “More than half of the world’s web traffic now comes from mobile phones.”
Laptops, desktops, and tablets (plus smart TVs and game consoles) now equal less than 50% combined.
That should tell you something right there: that if your website isn’t designed for mobile-first, you’re doing it wrong. You need to take a long hard look at your website and figure out how you can make it work for mobile viewers.
Some other interesting facts from the trend report
There’s a lot to filter through in this report, and I suggest you take a look at it for yourself. But I’ll give you some highlights:
- Total Global Population: 7.476 billion
- Global Mobile Users: 4.917 billion
- Global Internet Users: 3.773 billion
- Active Social Media Users: 2.789 billion
- Active Mobile Social Users: 2.549 billion
- Internet users grew by 10% in 2016, up 354 million compared to 2015
- Active social media users increased by 21%, up 482 million versus 2015
- Unique mobile users grew by 5%, up 222 million over the past 12 months
- Mobile social media users grew by 30%, up an impressive 581 million in 2016
(All stats courtesy of the Digital in 2017 Global Overview by We Are Social and Hootsuite)
What I’ve seen on The Girl Brand
For my own website, I seem to be trending a little higher with mobile than global stats. Out of all my website traffic, a whopping 61.2% comes from mobile.
Breaking it down even further, of that 61.2%, 70.2% are on iPhones, 19.2% are rocking Samsung, and the rest are broken up into 2% or less across a variety of different brands.
You might ask what that particular bit of knowledge does for me? Well, it helps me figure out two very important things: the range of screen sizes I should focus on designing for my website, and the browsers I need to make sure my website is compatible with.
If you’ve never thought about those things because you designed your website yourself, I suggest you look into the subjects a bit. They’re very important.
Your site’s mobile compatibility
First things first: if you aren’t sure whether your site is mobile friendly, you can check it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Pretty simple, eh?
Chances are pretty good that your site is good to go on that front, especially if you use WordPress. Most WordPress themes are automagically built with mobile-first in mind.
But there are always things you can do to make your site even easier to use on a smartphone. And I’m going to walk you through some of them now.
Consider ‘Back to Top’ Buttons. Or, fixed navigation menus.
When you have a really long web page (especially an infinite scroll page), you NEED to have a back-to-top button so people can navigate easier. Or, design your mobile website so that the navigation ‘hamburger’ is fixed at the top. The last thing you want to do is annoy your visitors by not letting them get back to your navigation without scrolling for ages. When they end up in that situation, they’re going to get impatient and leave your website.
Get rid of your pop-ups on mobile
This one is actually incredibly important, considering Google recently started penalizing sites that use pop-up advertising on mobile. Any website with a pop-up, whether it be an ad, an email subscribe form, or whatever, now loses ground in Google’s search ranking. Meaning, you might not come up on the first page of search results (assuming you did previously). Don’t get pushed even further behind because of something that’s simple to turn off.
Consider font sizing for mobile-first
Real-estate on a mobile screen is precious, but that should never compromise usability. Your font sizes should never fall below 14. In fact, I recommend 16–18 for all my clients. Also, make sure any headlines that are really large on your desktop site are decreased for mobile—there’s nothing worse than words getting broken up on multiple lines because the font is too large.
Make buttons and links really big
Think about the last time you were on a smartphone and couldn’t get to the next page you wanted because the button was too small. What was your reaction? Mine is always frustration. Take that into consideration when you’re designing your mobile links and make them big enough to actually hit.
Keep ads to a minimum
I don’t know about you, but I get really annoyed at the spammy advertising on mobile. The last thing I want is to be scrolling and accidentally hit an advertisement for something I don’t need, then get taken to their website instead of the one I was reading. Do your viewers (and yourself) a favor, and put the ads in places they won’t be hit accidentally (like NOT next to buttons). Just think about the list click-bait sites…amiright??
Embed your videos with YouTube
A lot of video players don’t play well with mobile screens, so consider using YouTube to embed them. YouTube videos are embedded as responsive, so you won’t run into the sizing issues you do with other methods.
And there you have it: 6 tips for keeping your mobile site user-friendly.
If you want to dig deeper, or need to redo your site completely to take advantage of this global trend, I encourage you to reach out to your favorite web designer. Or take the time to research and DIY. Because you can’t afford not to be ready for mobile viewers.
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