Making your website – and your business – “mobile first”.

Gavin Ross
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On: 6 Dec 2018
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Mobile first

Many forward-thinking organisations have now moved from “mobile first” as a digital design principle, to “mobile first” as a way of doing business. This trend is driven by consumer behaviour: almost 80% of traffic to the Three website, for example, is from mobiles. 72% of SMEs in Ireland have a website and three quarters are mobile optimised.* However there are many further challenges and opportunities ahead for a business looking to become “mobile first”.

When websites were predominantly viewed from PCs it was easier to get away with being busy and content heavy with long forms, numerous required fields, drop-down menus and high-resolution images. Sites were therefore often slow and cumbersome, but there was nothing to challenge this status quo. Then the smartphone changed everything.

Smaller screens and, at the time, slower 2G and 3G data connections forced sites to ditch the bloat and focus on delivering a simpler and faster customer experience. This trend has been reinforced by search engines such as Google, which now rank sites much lower if they are not optimised for mobile or are slow to load. These days, the simplest and most common first step is to develop a single “responsive” website that will automatically change to display correctly, depending on the device being used to access it.

The key is to design the site for mobile experience first and then adapt for desktop, not the other way around. By adopting this mobile first mindset, you will protect your business’ valuable Google ranking and provide a better experience for your customers, on a site that’s easier to understand and easier to navigate.

Engaging the empowered consumer.

We know that the connected world we live in has given consumers more power and less patience than ever. Consumers can – and do – hold businesses publicly to account for poor experiences. Even more damningly perhaps, they will click away in seconds from a clunky website – and probably to your competitor.

Following putting mobile first, your second priority when designing your site should be to ensure you don’t lose visitors. It must load fast, which will not only avoid you losing customers, it can also help you win them. The empowered consumer thinks nothing of browsing online for better deals, even as they browse the shelves or queue at the tills in your competitor’s outlet. A fast-loading site with a better deal on offer could close a sale there and then.

You should also investigate the many opportunities to improve your customers’ experience online and – when the time is right for your business – implement them on your site. These opportunities can include interactivity, targeting and personalisation. For example, analysing data on users’ interactions with your site will allow you to tailor messages and target accordingly, based on geographical location or time of visit. You can even make your site a highly interactive, enjoyable place to visit by using technology such as the mobile’s camera or accelerometer, to create an immersive experience.

There’s no doubt this is now a mobile first world, filled with consumers spoilt for choice and less disposed to loyalty. Businesses must now focus on driving loyalty by creating rewarding, personalised digital experiences. Content must load and engage quickly, and provide a fast and clear route to purchase. Businesses that appreciate that a mobile first approach means putting the customer first, will be the first to see the benefits.

Learn how other SMEs are going more digital:

*Irish Domain Registry SME Digital Health Survey 2018