July 3, 2019

The Rise of Mobile-First Design

Whether you’re sitting on a bus, at a cafe, in the office or even walking down the street, chances are that someone around you is browsing the web on their smartphone. More than half of Google searches are sent via mobile devices, and these devices are often on our person all day, every day. Think about it — with the amount we rely on our phones to provide entertainment and answers, smartphones have become the center of our digital presence. 

What Happened in Google’s Update?

In late May, Google announced that mobile-first indexing — which refers to utilizing a website’s mobile version to index its pages — would now become the default ranking system for all new web domains as of July 1st, 2019. If your mobile and desktop pages contain different structured data, then your rankings may be impacted. If you don’t have a mobile site, no need to panic. Google said, “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”

Google’s switch to mobile-first indexing is not new. By the end of 2018, Google was using mobile-first indexing for more than half of the web pages found in search results already, matching user behavior through its indexing systems. According to a study led by Google, “mobile users are very goal-oriented. They expect to be able to get what they need, immediately, and on their own terms.” Because of this, it’s important to optimize your content to match user behavior. For example, if a prospect is browsing a site on their smartphone that doesn’t have optimized design, it is likely they will exit out and seek information elsewhere. 

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What Does This Mean for Me?

The way that people browse on their mobile devices is different than the way they browse on their desktop. Because of this update, it’s extremely important for users to optimize their mobile sites and sync them with their desktop version. 

This can involve tactics like 

  • Keeping CTA’s accessible: CTA’s need to be front and center without being distracting. While this may seem confusing at first, try to think about what you seek out in a mobile experience. Are you more likely to exit out of a pop-up, or pay attention to a well placed CTA? 
  • Implementing hamburger navigation: Hamburger navigation can either serve as a primary or secondary navigation for your site. Aptly titled due to its three line design, hamburger navigation can clear up a messy web page by neatly placing everything in one convenient spot. Rather than needing to display the name of every single page of your site to a prospect, you can simply link to those pages within a hamburger navigation.
  • Optimizing site search: By enabling your site’s search bar for mobile use, you’re taking a big step in facilitating the user experience. If a prospect can’t find the information they are looking for on your site, it’s likely that they won’t be coming back anytime soon.

When it comes to mobile vs. desktop browsing, understanding the difference in user behavior is crucial. Not only are our attention spans different, but the balance of visuals and text that we expect during an online experience varies greatly. Designing for mobile should not give you a headache. At New Breed, we believe that the best design for mobile use, “is one that is simple, clean and actionable.”

Luckily, Google has a tool that can help you optimize your site for mobile use. Google Search Console provides users with a mobile usability report, which details ways to prioritize and fix issues as well as debug error spikes. For example, some key elements that may be looked at can be text size, the distance between clickable items and the size of visual content. Utilizing this tool will ensure that your indexing and mobile site is as optimized as possible and that the user experience on your site can match the needs of mobile users. 

Key Takeaway

Now, more than ever, mobile optimization is extremely important thanks to the Google search update which went live on July 1, 2019. While your website may provide an effective and efficient user experience on a desktop, that may not be the case for mobile. Utilizing Google search console can help you better your mobile user experience, and ultimately, improve your search ranking and indexing.

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Guido Bartolacci

Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.


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