Your website is a technological marvel that spends most of its life in the palm and pocket of the end user. No one saw that coming 15 years ago. Here is something else no one saw coming:
The way users learn about what your site is, in large part, from computer algorithms that index the web and decide on factors like relevance and advertising. Those algorithms then order those sites by rank, and present them to the user. In other words, machines decide which sites the user will see.
One of the aspects of your site measured by the algorithm is how mobile friendly it happens to be. Failure to be mobile-friendly will not get you unlisted, but it will get you a lower ranking. In turn, that will make it a lot tougher for users to discover what it is you have to offer.
It could be the difference between being on the 2nd page and being on the 102nd page. Being too hard to find is not very user-friendly. Here are some other reasons why mobile-friendly is user-friendly.
Have you noticed how some sites spring to life as soon as you summon them, while others are slow as molasses. You know from your own experience that speed is a user-facing feature. It is even more important on mobile than it is on a desktop.
The first step to insuring speed is choosing the right hosting service. Not all hosting services are created equally. There are a lot of benefits and trade-offs to consider with each price-point.
When people are on the go, they have even less time and patience for dealing with slow-loading sites. If there is nothing particularly unique about yours, they will simply move on to the next one. And they will perceive the faster site as the better site. Being mobile means being fast. Your end-users will thank you with their continued business.
That page of text from that site that you love to read on your desktop computer is the same text other people skip past when on their mobiles. The vast majority of books ever printed are physically a lot bigger than your smartphone screen. The same is even more true for magazines and newspapers.
What we are talking about is something called “information density”. That refers to the amount of information displayed in a given amount of space. We might think of it as words per screen.
On a big screen, you can get lots of words per screen. That is because the screen is so big. Words per screen on a smartphone goes way down. To achieve the same number of words per screen, you have to make everything super small, requiring super vision.
The other thing you can do is make things a more readable size, but require a lot of scrolling. Thing is, no one wants to do all that scrolling on a mobile. The scroll action is probably the cause of more dropped phones and cracked screens than anything else we do routinely on a mobile.
A mobile-friendly site can still pack lots of information into a small space. Content writers just have to do a better job getting to the point. Using fewer words to say what’s important is a user-friendly feature.
Mobile-first Puts the User First
You are almost certainly familiar with the term, “mobile responsive”. At bottom, it means that a site built primarily for one screen size should scale to fit another. A small photo on a desktop may fill the screen of a smartphone, the text and other elements may flow beneath the photo when scrolled.
While this is useful for fitting desktop websites on mobile devices, the more mobile-friendly approach is to design the site with mobile in mind, and have it scale up to larger monitors when necessary. That is what it means to be mobile-first. Since most people access the web on mobile devices these days, mobile-first is user-first.