Google’s “Mobilegeddon” and the Importance of Mobile-Friendly Web Design

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Apr 24, 2015

This week, Google made changes to its mobile search algorithm, an event which the public dubbed “Mobilegeddon.” In the new algorithm, Google considers whether a website is “mobile-friendly” in ranking search results. Mobilegeddon is a wake-up call for many businesses that have either neglected mobile design or are not even aware that their websites are poorly designed.

Photo via Inturact

While the new algorithm only affects searches on smartphones, businesses cannot afford to lose out on mobile, which already accounts for 60% of U.S. digital media time.[1] Earlier this year, comScore reported that mobile search accounts for 29% of all U.S. search activity, and 20% of that comes from smartphones. Various estimates put Google around 65-75% search market share, with 80-90% share in mobile search (thanks in large part to the Android OS). In fact, about half of all Google searches are believed to be mobile searches. Despite the apocalyptic hype around Mobilegeddon, this is neither the first nor the last update to Google’s algorithm. It is, however, the most significant update since 2011, when Google Panda began factoring the quality of web pages into search rank. The real issue at stake here for businesses is not just their Google search rank, but how prepared and equipped they are to operate in a mobile world. Why, in 2015, are businesses still not mobile-optimized, or worse, completely unprepared to make necessary changes? Google gave plenty of time and warning for Mobilegeddon, but many businesses are still unprepared. Rather than just designing a mobile-friendly website for the new algorithm, take this opportunity to really understand the devices and channels your customers are using, and assess how you can use those to build a better customer experience. The next time everyone panics over mobile, you should be prepared to adapt.

This is not about complex back-end changes, but simple recognition of the importance of customer experience, where design matters and not just information. While technology provides convenient platforms to communicate with customers, it also accustoms them to channel formats that businesses must then build around. At this point, not designing for mobile is like broadcasting radio programming over television; it may communicate information, but customers expect the message to match the medium.

To get started, Google has provided a free mobile-friendly test to evaluate your website. If your website is not mobile-friendly, here are some basic questions to ask:

  • Who are our customers and prospects?
  • What do they need to do on our website?
  • How can we add value to that basic user experience?
  • Which channels and devices do we need to design around?
  • How can we reach customers on channels other than our website?
  • How can we integrate those channels with our website?
  • How important are graphics and media to our design?

The lesson from Mobilegeddon is to adapt now to the evolving devices and channels customers are using, in order to optimize customer experience but also to be prepared for the next time you have to adapt. With any design strategy there has to be a dialogue between form and function.

Jason Cardona
Research Analyst

Transactional Communications & Payments

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