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November 2, 2016

What is “Mobile First” Website Design?

Over the past year, we have all been told that Google will penalize us for not having a “mobile friendly” website. This means that your website, when displayed on a mobile device must be fully functional. You should not have to pinch open any screens to see the content or have to go through any extra steps to view website content on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Failure to have a mobile friendly website could land you on the dreaded Page Two of Google search results as a penalty. As a result, website builders began making sure the sites they built were indeed, mobile friendly. And……then, the concept of “mobile first” arrived.

Here’s the deal – When websites were first introduced they were viewed exclusively on desktop computers. Even a decade after the internet was born, desktop viewing was the most common access point. Not so anymore. More people are using their mobile devices to access the internet. Why bother leaving the comfort of your cozy sofa when you can search for information using your phone or tablet? As a result, website builders are now focusing on building “mobile first” sites that meet the needs of mobile users before desktop users.

Is “mobile first” a term that was coined or does it really mean something? It means that web developers recognize that consumers are ditching their desktop computers and bulky laptop computers and viewing sites on much smaller screens. They are eliminating long forms that require a lot of scrolling. They are laying pages out in large chunks that are easier to navigate from a tiny screen. They are also increasing the resolution of images to be crisper and cleaner. While it doesn’t mean that the new sites won’t display on a desktop, they may seem stretched out or display oddly, much like how they displayed incorrectly on smartphones as smartphones began to hit the market.

Mobile computing isn’t the future. It is the present. It is here to stay and has become the primary method used by consumers for shopping. Whether this means browsing or making an actual purchase, websites must be geared for mobile first.

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