At last Google are starting to flex their muscles when it comes to managing the mobile experience, and are going to go further still.
Google has updated search results for mobile users to highlight websites that are optimised for mobile. Sites that that fit on mobile screen without zooming or scrolling horizontally and that place links far enough apart to click on using a finger will be labelled as “mobile-friendly” label in the search results:
Google state, “this change will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.”
If you’ve ever done a search on a mobile device, you’ll know why this is a going to be vast improvement for the mobile user experience. When clicking through to a site today, it is almost random if you will land on a page that will display on your mobile, or a standard page layout shrunk down to the point of illegibility.
This is a great announcement but does not go far enough. The site may fit the screen but it will not mean that it will deliver what a mobile user wants.
Google go on to say, “we see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.”
What do organisations need to do?
Think “mobile first”, deliver to the mobile user’s needs first. Optimise the experience for the mobile user and stop the desktop mind-set. They must think and act mobile. If they don’t it is going to have severe consequences in the future.
Sites need to be mobile first, not a desktop site that adjusts to fit on a mobile. Mobile is fundamentally different. You would not put a radio Ad on TV and expect it to deliver value. Similarly you should not put a desktop web experience in front of a mobile user and expect it to work. It won’t.
Services must be optimised for mobile. If wishing to adopt responsive web design, start from mobile and make it adapt to desktop, not the other way around.
For some a responsive web site that adapts from mobile to desktop may be appropriate, but for others it is not – especially retailers. For many a separate optimised mobile site will present the best strategic approach. Responsive design creates dependencies, making it very difficult to provide any effective targeting or segmentation and provides very little ability to be reactive in what is a very dynamic environment. It literally places handcuffs on marketing and can restrict business performance.
Go to a mobile expert …
A few years ago you would not have considered starting your website development without using someone that had experience of creating websites, today you should really seek the advice of a mobile specialist if you don’t want to alienate your customers.
When you get it right, the results are dramatic! They are tangible and measurable. The best thing is that a highly performing mobile optimised site will rapidly deliver significant ROI and happy customers.
Organisations need to wake up to the needs of the mobile user, start to take charge and deliver a decent experience. If they don’t it will start to impact their mobile rankings and business.
Martin Wilson is a leading mobile specialist. He can be found on Twitter @indigo102