Back in April, Google instituted a new, sweeping change in its search algorithms: websites that were mobile-compatible would be emphasized in search results originating from mobile devices (like smart phones and tablets, which make up more than half of all web traffic). This made perfect sense, and was accompanied by the rollout of a simple tool, Google’s mobile-friendly test.
You can see and use Google’s mobile-friendly test for yourself; it will give you a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down for its accessibility for mobile users. It’s a convenient way to see whether you are meeting some minimum guidelines for mobile compatibility, and its a feature that millions of website owners have taken advantage of.
The only problem? Google’s mobile-friendly website test misses the point.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have value, just that it doesn’t give you the information you really need. Google’s mobile test is a good starting point, but with more than half of all web traffic coming for smart phones and tablets, it’s not enough to assess whether your website meets some fairly-acceptable standard of functionality—you need full mobile accessibility. This isn’t about going with Google’s suggestions; it’s about giving your customers what they want.
Taking a “Mobile-First” Approach
The most successful marketers are the ones who don’t need Google’s test. They know that customers are using iPads, Kindles, iPhones, and Androids, so they take a mobile-first approach to web design because they know it won’t harm their ability to reach traditional laptop and desktop users.
What does a mobile-first approach to web design look like? It starts with the basics, including these:
- Responsive web coding that adapts itself to different screen sizes
- Mobile-friendly layouts with different image resolution options for those with limited data plans
- Subheadings and bulleted lists that make content easier to scroll and adjust to a small screen
- Click-to-call and other prompts that are easy to take advantage of via mobile devices
- Mobile-ready emails and marketing communications that can be read anywhere
These are just starting points, but they all suggest a willingness to offer things in a format that’s easy for the majority of customers to digest, rather than simply checking off a few boxes to make sure that a website is technically able to be viewed on a laptop or smart phone.
Are you being proactive with mobile web design and marketing, or just following a few pointers given to you by Google or some other outside party? The answer probably goes a long way towards letting you know what mobile customers really think of your pages.