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Smartphones have become part of our everyday lives, yet so many businesses today continue to neglect their mobile strategy. Failing to update for mobile can have severe business consequences, including missed business opportunities. According to Google over half of all web traffic comes from mobile. By simply having an app or mobile site designed for your customers, you could be opening up your business to a completely new audience.

Today we’ll explore why a mobile-first approach is essential for your business, as well as the steps you can take to improve your mobile strategy.

 

Why Mobile First?

 

Mobile-first design is a philosophy that prioritizes mobile development and responsive design before working on a tablet or desktop version for a product or website. This is because mobile versions tend to be harder to develop, have more restrictions and requirements, and translates better to desktop than the other way around.

But why should companies develop mobile apps or websites at all? Here are a few reasons why:

 

Customers demand faster load times

According to a study of over 1000 customers, nearly 70% say page speed impacts their decision to purchase a product or service. Nobody wants to wait around for a page to load. And as traditional web developers continue to bloat websites with flashy animations and unnecessary scripts, users have flocked to mobile apps and websites for more responsive experiences.

 

Mobile use continues to rise

Not only has mobile overtaken website traffic, but it has also been more successful in capturing people’s attention for longer periods of time. One study by Zenith shows that the average mobile browsing time per user each day in the US has increased to 252 minutes in 2021, up from only 45 minutes in 2011.

 

Mobile-first indexing by Google

A few years ago, Google announced that it would begin using the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking. Before the announcement, the desktop version was predominantly used in evaluating relevance to a query. If you want your website or content to rank higher or more quickly, consider adopting a mobile-first approach.

 

Mobile personalization drives more sales

There’s a lot of data that can be learned from mobile users, from their location and usage rate to their previous searches and habits. According to Google and Ipsos, 63% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies “whose mobile sites and apps offer them relevant recommendations on products they may be interested in.” You may notice this in apps like Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram, which serve up content based on what you enjoy searching.

 

Before You Begin Mobile First

 

Assemble your mobile engineering team. Creating a mobile app or website requires a cross-functional team of developers, artists, designers, writers, QA testers, and many more specialized individuals. Be sure to do your research on development teams by looking through their portfolio and completed projects.

Conduct customer journey mapping to understand how the customer will move through your app or site. How will the user find out about you? What will they do on the first page of the app or website? What UI elements will draw them towards the next action, and then the next one? All these questions will help you better understand the actions and flow of the user journey, allowing you to better design your mobile-first strategy.

Review the relevant regulations on data.  The regulations on data protection are becoming more and more stringent, from GDPR (EU’s regulation) to the California Consumer Privacy Act. Do your due diligence on the laws surrounding data protection and regulation to avoid getting hit with complaints or even lawsuits.

 

Mobile Design

 

Developing for mobile isn’t as easy as the press of a button, you must also think about how the content must be designed for a smaller screen, and a potentially lower internet speed. For developers, this means balancing mobile responsiveness and mobile design. While it’s important to have a beautiful and eye-catching design, it should never come in the way of speed and responsiveness. The slower the speed, the more likely the user will tap away.

Great developers also know to prioritize great content. With so many apps and websites online, useful and engaging content is what draws people organically. The fewer barriers in the way (such as login screens, ads, loading times, or steep learning curves), the faster people can access the content they want, and the more likely they are to stick around to engage even more.

In addition to great content, developers should design around clear calls-to-action or CTAs. What do you want your customer to do? Perhaps you want your customer to make a purchase of a product, or to try a freemium version of a service. Or maybe you would like to collect their email address for further correspondence. Or maybe you just want them to download your new app. No matter the conversion that generates your bottom line, you must design around this CTA, making buttons visible and copy engaging enough to motivate users to act.

 

Mobile Marketing

 

Don’t expect people to flock to your mobile website or app once it’s complete— just like any other product or service you have to market.

If you’re marketing an app, you’ll want to do research on app store optimization. Similar to SEO for websites, this involves tweaking your app store page to maximize the rank higher in the app store search engine: things like keywords, description, reviews, and more. Check out Apple’s page for app store optimization to learn more.

Mobile analytics tools can also lend you important insights in helping you better understand your audience and market your brand. Metrics such as geolocation, keywords searched, device type can all be collected from users visiting your website. Or if you have an app, you can have users opt-in to send analytics data for improving the product. Remember to be transparent— failure to disclose data collection could land you in trouble with regulatory authorities.

Before (and even during) your marketing campaign, ensure you have robust mobile testing strategies. Putting out half-baked apps or websites will only lead to negative reviews, and potentially leads lost forever. Take the time to properly beta test your mobile site or app, even hiring QA (quality assurance) testers to try and “break” your app through normal testing. If all goes well, your customers shouldn’t even notice that your app works flawlessly.

 

Mobile-first Companies

 

Interested in learning more about companies that have done mobile-first strategy right? Here are a few examples from some of the leading companies in the industry.

 

Duolingo

Learning a language can seem like a daunting task, but when it’s presented as a game on your phone, it can be something you turn into a habit. That’s what language education company Duolingo found out early on. By developing its app with gamification elements such as achievements, levels, and experience points, students don’t feel like they’re stuck in a class but rather like they’re playing and having fun. Today, Duolingo services over 300 million students.

 

SoFi

Investing, banking, and other financial services are crucial to one’s success, but few people take the time and effort in understanding how it all works. SoFi simplifies everything, allowing you to view it all in one place— your loans, your stocks, even your credit score (for free!). SoFi even offers complimentary advice and community support for all their customers. Currently, they have over 1 million members.

 

Novel Coworking

That’s right, in case you weren’t aware, Novel Coworking has an app for our clients! In one place, you can manage conference room bookings, check on packages, order snacks from the Honor Market, and interact with your local Novel community. It’s the perfect companion app for working in our spaces.

 

Mobile will no doubt continue to be an important part of a company’s online presence in 2021 and beyond. If you’ve long neglected to revisit your website or app, now is the time. Don’t miss out on potential traffic or customers. How can you update your content to better serve an ever-increasing mobile audience?