Mobile-First Design Is No Longer a Choice; It’s The Key to Modern Web

Mobile-First Design Is No Longer a Choice; It’s The Key to Modern Web

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever squinted and zoomed your way around a clunky website on your phone. ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ Yeah, me too.

By 2024, over 58% of global website traffic comes from mobile devices, and this percentage continues to grow every year.

So, having a website that’s NOT mobile-friendly just DOESN’T work!

Percentage of Internet Traffic Comes From Mobile Devices 2024

The Importance of Mobile-Friendly, Responsive Websites

Here’s why you should care:

  • Happy Users, Happy Life:
    A seamless mobile experience keeps your visitors engaged and coming back for more. Nobody wants to pinch and zoom to read your content.
  • SEO – Google Loves It:
    The big G is all about mobile-first indexing, meaning it prioritizes mobile versions of websites for ranking. In other words, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your SEO rankings will suffer.
  • Everyone’s Doing It:
    Seriously, if your competitors have already embraced mobile responsiveness, you’re falling behind.
Responsive website for educator and consultant

Mobile-First Design

Mobile-first design is a strategy where the mobile version of a website is prioritized and designed first before scaling up for larger screens. This approach ensures that your site performs optimally on the most restrictive devices, providing a solid foundation for more complex designs on larger screens. Embracing a mobile-first mindset helps you create a streamlined, user-friendly experience that caters to the growing mobile user base.

Mobile devices have unique constraints like smaller screens, slower internet, and less processing power. Designing for mobile first forces you to focus on the core content, functionality, and fast load times – creating a lean and seamless experience that translates well to all devices.

Also, it can save time and money compared to separate mobile/desktop builds. If time and resources are limited to optimizing your website for one environment, choose the one that most of your users will be on – most likely mobile. With a mobile-first foundation, you can cost-effectively scale up the experience for larger screens rather than trying to shoehorn a desktop design into mobile.

How Do I Know If My Website Is Mobile-Friendly and Responsive?

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3!

Before we dive into how to make your site mobile-friendly, let’s see how yours stacks up. Here are a few handy tools for testing mobile responsiveness:

  • Browser Developer Tools:
    Modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge have built-in responsive design testing tools that allow you to emulate different device viewports and screen sizes. In Chrome, you can access this by opening DevTools (F12) and toggling the Device Toolbar.
    Here’s a post with detail steps demonstrating how to run a quick audit for your web page, including mobile friendliness.
    How To Perform An Effective Website Audit For Free
  • Online Responsive Testing Tools
    PageSpeed Insights: This Google tool measures your site’s speed on both mobile and desktop, and gives you tips for improvement.
    Am I Responsive?: This simple web tool lets you see how your site looks on different devices
    Responsive Design Checker: Tests responsiveness across preset and custom device sizes.
  • BrowserStack:
    It’s a cloud-based cross-browser testing platform that allows you to test websites on real mobile devices and desktop browsers. It provides a responsive design checker to instantly view your site across various viewports.

Regular Testing on Actual Devices

In addition to using these tools, it’s essential to test your website on actual mobile devices. This includes iPhones, Android smartphones, tablets, and different browsers. Ask your friends with iPhones, Androids, and tablets to give your site a spin. Real-world testing is invaluable.

How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Use Mobile Simulators

Utilizing mobile simulators on major website builders can also help ensure your site is mobile-friendly. Hereโ€™s how you can leverage tools within popular platforms:

  • WordPress: Use the built-in Customizer to preview your site on different devices. Install responsive design plugins to enhance mobile compatibility.
  • Wix: The Wix Editor provides a mobile view where you can customize your site’s mobile version separately from the desktop view. But as of now (2024) Wix Editor does not provide a tablet view, and that’s a disappointment.
  • Weebly: Weebly’s editor includes a mobile preview option, allowing you to see and edit how your site appears on mobile devices.
  • Shopify: Shopify’s theme editor includes mobile previews, and many themes are built with mobile responsiveness in mind.
Wordpress Editor Mobile View
Wix Editor Mobile View

Avoid Certain UI Elements on Mobile

Certain elements that work well on desktop might not translate well to mobile. For example:

  • Flipboxes: These interactive elements rely on mouse hover, which is not available on touchscreens.
  • Complex Dropdown Menus: They can be difficult to navigate on smaller screens.
  • Large Image Carousels: They may slow down your site’s loading time on mobile devices.

Consider replacing these elements with mobile-friendly alternatives, such as simple cards or accordions, to enhance usability on smaller screens.

Prioritize Essential Content

Mobile screens are smaller, so focus on the most important content. Make your navigation clear and easy to use with a thumb.

Don’t Forget About OS and Browser Compatibility

Your website should look and function smoothly across popular operating systems such as Windows, Apple OS, Android and iOS; as well as main stream browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. Regularly test your site on different devices and browsers to ensure consistency. A broken layout or missing functionality in one browser could send users running for the hills!

Check Google Analytics to see which operating system and browsers your users are on mostly.


United States browser use 2024

Conclusion

Mobile responsiveness isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. A mobile-friendly website will keep your users happy, your search rankings high, and your business competitive in the digital age. So, go ahead and make the switch โ€“ your visitors (and Google) will thank you!

Want to learn what other web design aspects are essential to your website’s success?
Read: 7 UX & Design Tips To Boost Your Website Success.

Want to get more pro-tips on websites, SEO, and online marketing?
Check out our Resources page, or sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter below. No spam. Easy unsubscribe any time.

7 UX & Design Tips to Boost Your Website Success

7 UX & Design Tips to Boost Your Website Success

In the competitive digital landscape, a website is often the first point of contact between your business and its potential customers.

As such, the importance of user experience (UX) design and site structure cannot be overlooked, and they play a pivotal role in enhancing overall website performance and retaining visitors.

Letโ€™s delve into the critical aspects of UX design and site structure that you should pay close attention to.

1. Responsive Design for a Seamless Experience

  • The Multi-Device World:
    Users access websites from smartphones, desktops, laptops, and tablets everyday.
    Responsive design ensures your website adapts to different screen sizes, providing a consistent and enjoyable experience across all devices.
  • Mobile first: in 2024, over 90% users surfing the Internet are on their smart phones. So, prioritize optimizing your website design and experience for these smart devices, over other devices.
    Also, don’t forget to optimize for the most popular web browsers: Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox (for 2024).
  • Search Engine Love:
    Google and other search engines favor responsive websites, boosting your search rankings and visibility.
Percentage of Internet Traffic Comes From Mobile Devices 2024

United States browser use 2024

2: Branding with Accessibility in Mind

  • Colors and Fonts Speak Volumes:
    Your choice of colors and fonts reflects your brand personality and sets the tone for the user experience.
    While brand consistency is key, ensure you also prioritize accessibility and readability.
  • Contrast is Important:
    Choose colors with sufficient contrast for users with visual impairments, even if your business is not required by law to be accessibility compliant.
    Tools like WebAIM’s contrast checker can help you verify that your choices are accessible.
  • Readability Rules:
    Opt for clear, easy-to-read fonts. Avoid overly decorative typefaces.
    Font size matters too โ€“ choose sizes that are comfortable to read on various devices.
    Headings and subheadings break up your content making it more digestible.

Here’s a quick example for color contrast:
When designing a button for the home page, if you want to use Gold (#C5A059) as the background color of the button, because it’s one of the brand colors.
Then, which color should you use for the text on the button?
White (#FFFFFF) or Black (#000000)?

After testing with these color combinations in WebAIM’s contrast checker, we know that Black text over Gold background will provide higher contrast ratio, and pass the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliance.
Thus, it will also help your website obtain a higher score on Google’s Chrome Lighthouse audit on Web Accessibility.

color contrast for web accessibility webiaim contrast checker failed
color-contrast-for-web-accessibility-webiaim-contrast-checker-passed

3. Site Structure โ€“ Navigation is Key

A well-planned site structure and intuitive navigation are foundational to a positive user experience.

  • Navigation as Your Guide:
    Your website’s menu is its roadmap. Design an intuitive navigation system that helps users effortlessly find what they’re looking for. Proper categorization of your products or services makes the journey seamless.
  • Sitemaps and URLs:
    Sitemaps help search engines crawl your website efficiently, It should also clearly outline the hierarchy of pages, for both user and search engines.
    Descriptive URLs and title names boost understanding for both users and search engines.

Example:
Imagine a user seeking a sweet dessert wine on the Internet and found the home page of your online wine store. With a clear menu like this, they could easily find what they’re looking for within a few clicks or seconds:
Home Page -> Wines -> Sweet Wines -> Dessert Wines
The goal is to make it easy for users to find their desired products or information in as few clicks and as little time as possible.

Intuitive Site Structure and Navigation for website performance

4. Layout โ€“ Design for Clarity & Comfort

Column Power:
A balanced column structure organizes content logically. Some content might look better distributed in a 4-column row than a single-column on the desktop view. But don’t forget to check the mobile and tablet views as well. With the narrow screen sizes, the same content might look better displayed in a 2-column or even a single-column row.
Use the Device Simulator tool on Chrome or Safari’s DevTool to check the responsiveness of your websites.

Whitespace Matters:
Ample space between elements improves readability and overall visual appeal. Avoid cramped layouts.

Example of a 3-column row on desktop view
Example of stacking columns on mobile view

5. Image Impact

  • Visual Storytelling:
    High-quality, relevant images or videos break up text, enhance engagement, and should align with your brand aesthetic.
    Carefully consider whether photos, illustrations, or a combination best suit your brand and content.
  • Optimization is Key:
    Don’t forget to optimize images for faster site load times using compression and optimization. There are both built-in tools within popular website building platforms and external tools to perform these tasks.
    For WordPress websites, I recommend these plugins: Optimole, Smush, Speed Optimizer
    For external image optimization tools, I recommend: tinify / TinyPNG, paint.net
  • Don’t Forget About SEO:
    Use descriptive file names, titles, captions, and alt-text for accessibility and SEO benefits.

6. Call to Actions That Drive Results

  • Guiding Your Visitors:
    Clear and compelling calls to action (CTAs), like “Learn More About Us”, “Sign Up for Classes Here”, or “Shop Now,” encourage user interaction and conversions.
  • Placement and Design:
    Calls to action (CTAs) guide users towards your business objectives, whether itโ€™s making a purchase, signing up for newsletters, or contacting customer service.
    Strategically Positioning clear and compelling CTAs throughout your site with eye-catching designs and hard-to-resist messages can significantly increase conversion rates.

Example: take a look at the CATs on this webpage: https://mlhaesthetics.com/landing/.

7. Additional User-Friendly Features

  • Back to the Top
    On lengthy pages, a “back to top” button saves visitors from endless scrolling.
  • Search for Simplicity
    For large websites, a search bar allows users to instantly locate specific content.
  • Find Me Fast:
    Ensure contact information and forms are accessible, encouraging potential customers to reach out. Here’s where you can go the extra mile:
    • Add a Map: For local businesses, embed a Google map or provide a clear link for directions.
    • Click to Connect: implement a “tel:” hyperlinks for phone numbers to enable one-tap calling on mobile. And add a “mailto:” hyperlinks for email addresses to open email apps directly.
    • Connect to Social: Integrate links on the website to the business’s social media platforms, so your users can easily follow and share.
  • The Power of Forms:
    A contact form streamlines communication, allowing you to capture valuable user information. Think: what kind of information would be most important to capture when your potential customer fills out a form?
    • The Essentials: Name, email, and phone number are a must. Location information can be useful as well.
    • Understanding Interests: Include fields to learn about the specific services or products they are interested in.
    • Marketing Insights: Discover how they found your website (search, social media, etc.) to gauge your marketing efforts.
    • Balancing Act: Strike a balance between gathering info and keeping your form concise.
    • Privacy Promise: Always link to your privacy policy for transparency and compliance.
    • Example: take a look at this contact form: https://mlhaesthetics.com/landing/#form.

Conclusion

A well-designed website that considers all aspects of UX design and site structure is crucial for maintaining visitor engagement and achieving business success. By focusing on these elements, you can ensure that your site not only attracts but also retains users, providing them with a satisfying and seamless experience.

Want to get more pro-tips on websites, SEO, and online marketing?
Check out our Resources page, or sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter below. No spam. Easy unsubscribe any time.