Why being mobile responsive isn't enough

Amy Thomason
October 27, 2020
4 mins

Mobile. We all know its prevalence, its importance, and how the whole landscape of retail and eCommerce changed with essentially the launch of one thing – the smartphone.

But it’s here where we want to offer a word of advice. It’s here where we say to you forget being mobile responsive. You need to look past this, and adopt a mobile first strategy. You need to be delivering online customer experiences that marry with how shoppers are using their devices, how they’re accessing and interacting with your brand – not designing what you want and then retrospectively trying to make it work.

Let’s start from the beginning by looking at what the difference is between mobile first and mobile responsive, why mobile needs your attention the most, and what to do next.

Mobile first vs mobile responsive

On the surface, mobile first and mobile responsive may seem pretty similar. However, there is a big difference, one that seems to get ignored quite often.

Mobile responsiveness, or responsive web design, essentially refers to sites that are being designed for desktop first, and are being made to function well or look good on mobile second. Yes, things may look okay, but it inherently means mobile is a bit of an afterthought, and some components may not work as desired nor scale down properly.

Mobile first is, well, designed for mobile first. It can then be scaled up to larger devices like tablet or desktop. So, in practice, you’re designing the UX for mobile in the first instance, creating content for mobile first and your technology is built to allow mobile to take center stage.

3 reasons why being mobile first is so important

If you’re mobile responsive and things seem to be going okay, why bother looking at mobile first experiences? Here’s 3 major reasons.

1. The numbers don’t lie.

On this one, you just need to listen to the stats. Because they paint a compelling picture.

  • The broad landscape: Mobile has accounted for half of global website traffic since 2017 (Statista).

  • eCommerce reality: Mobile commerce will account for 73% of all retail eCommerce sales by 2021 (Statista).

  • First impressions count: Buyers who have a negative experience on mobile are 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future (Google).

  • Social is standing out. Up to 20% of shoppers are heading to social media first to seek out trends and inspiration and find products.

As you can see, mobile makes up a large portion of eCommerce but yet when it comes to mobile sales conversion, most businesses are sitting at around 50% or less relative to that of desktop devices. The numbers aren’t stacking up.

2. Because Google says so.

In 2019, the powerhouse that is Google made mobile -first indexing its default. This means your mobile website and content will be indexed above your other sites, so basically your Google ranking and organic site traffic is hugely dependent on being mobile first.

3. Customers are in the driving seat.

Customers demand seamless interactions, regardless of the platform. In this fast-paced world, they’ll drop off at the first sign of poor page speeds and/or clunky user interfaces. They'll grow frustrated if they can’t find the product information they need, and if the content lacks personalization or relevance, they won’t think twice about going somewhere else.

Basically, customers are on the go and want information and access to products and services fast. So fast in fact, Google even attributed a 1 second delay in mobile page load to a fall in conversion of up to 20%!

Cue the need for mobile to a priority and for it to be functioning exactly as your customers need it be.

How to make mobile first a reality

In the simplest instance, to implement mobile first experiences you need to shift the mindset in your business to actually being mobile first. That way everything that is implemented therein actually delivers on that promise.

Subsequently, you can then look at what technology needs implementing to help build experiences for mobile, what UX principles you will follow that will result in a successful eCommerce experience, and also, how you create and present your content that will engage mobile visitors first and foremost.

When it comes to building a technology stack that can deliver mobile first experiences, Amplience can help. Our Headless Experience Management whitepaper is a good place to learn more about the technology that can deliver the eCommerce and mobile experiences demanded of you now and in the future.

Similarly, get in touch with one of our team to chat about mobile first experiences and how a headless approach to content management and rich media could help drive your mobile conversion.