If you don’t remember when Google rolled out the algorithm change that we couldn’t ignore, it was April of 2015. This change, Google promised, was the one had big implications for websites that were not mobile-enabled—if you weren’t accommodating your mobile users, Google would punish you by restricting traffic to your desktop site.
Google created a mobile-friendly test website
Drop your url into a field and click “Analyze”. Google will quickly tell you whether you pass or fail. If you’ve failed, Google tells you what’s wrong with your website. But whether your site passes the test or not, there’s a good chance it’s not really accessible for mobile users—at least 60% growing. If you’re a desktop user, you’re the minority and you’re not paying attention. Go anywhere—an event, to lunch; stand in line at Starbucks or Peets in the morning. People are accessing everything on their phones. And think about those in jobs that don’t allow folks to sit down at a computer—these people rely on their phones for information delivery—anyone in sales, healthcare, transportation, etc. It’s endless.
Oddly, there wasn’t a scramble to create new websites
For those of us in the web or internet marketing business, we talked about Mobilegeddon to our clients, we blogged about it and tried to make people understand the implications. But let’s be realistic. Creating a new website is a huge initiative for any company. It requires a budget, committing resources and hiring a web design developer and content developer and buying images. All of this takes time, and most folks already have their day jobs and they’re drowning. It’s important, but it’s a website, and it’s just one communication channel.
Mobilegeddon: less apocalyptic than expected
Now, with almost a year’s worth of data, the impact of Mobilegeddon has been less apocalyptic than expected. Most online analysts now believe Mobilegeddon lacked the finality its name suggested. In the days after the mobile-friendly update, content marketing company BrightEdge tracked more than 20,000 URLs and suggested that the number of non-mobile friendly pages on the first three pages of the SERPs was down 21%. Other reports suggested the concentration of non-mobile friendly URLs in the mobile search results dropped by as much as 50%. Yet research is showing that non-mobile friendly sites weren’t suffering as much as everyone predicted.
If the effect on traffic hasn’t been significant, was the mobile-friendly update really worth it? From a user-experience perspective, the general consensus is yes. Serving more mobile-friendly websites more often in mobile search results is a no-brainer. The sales of smartphones is increasing, and if you’ve stood in a crowd of millennials recently, you know the answer to this one.
Take a pragmatic approach and simplify
Regardless of Mobilegeddon, a website has a shelf life and it’s not unlikely that yours is due for an update, and you’re going to want to be thinking about responsive design—that which will translate seamlessly across all media—desktop, tablet and smartphones. All of the platforms have themes, or templates, that feature responsive design, including WordPress, Wix and SquareSpace.
Think about mobile users as you start planning your new website
Mobile has had a tremendous influence on the way that websites are now being designed. The format is simplified—gone are columns, complexity and multiple moving parts. There’s less drilldown because scrolling is more efficient when using mobile devices. Navigation is simplified, along with color palettes, design and images. Make sure that the “hamburger” navigation element is prominent at the top of the page and that contact information is accessible on all screens. Make adjustments if phone numbers and email addresses are in tiny fonts and difficult to read. Try to avoid reverse type—it’s often difficult to read as well. Remember that not everyone is a millennial with 20/20 vision. Make it easy for people to get information.