Mobile first in design but are you reporting on it? You should be.

By Philip Craig

Read time - 4 mins

There is a disconnect between mobile first website design and mobile first analytics, let us explain how and why this is the case.

In mid-2018 we designed and launched a new website for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS).  When developing the site we ensured that design was mobile first.  The previous SWFRS site was not mobile optimised and in the four months post launch we saw some major differences in mobile usage from the same period in 2017:

SWFRS – Infographic

From our own experience this illustrates how things can change with the right infrastructure.  SWFRS made the right decision to ensure their site represented this shift in technology and stayed in touch with the demographic they wish to relate to.

Around the same time Google announced that they were officially mobile first (March 2018). Which means that the mobile version of your site is used for ranking and indexing over your desktop one. Basically, they are ignoring your desktop site when crawling your site’s information.

I don’t know about your office, but we all work at desktop computers here in Zesty, because it’s quite fiddly to develop websites or use spreadsheets on a mobile phone, for now.  We still think there is a distinct gap between work (desktop) and play (mobile) even in digital savvy workplaces. If you see someone on their mobile, you automatically think they are on WhatsApp – not that they are checking to see if an image is altered correctly for mobile. This attitude needs to change and fast!

What are we trying to say here? Let’s use SEO analysis as an example, do you automatically consider mobile first or do you just look at overall performance at the end of the month? Google Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) may show something completely different on mobile or even remove the need to engage with your site.

The example below (one of our favourite childhood memories, a bowling and ice related venue here in Belfast) illustrates what we mean. All the information you may need is available without ever engaging with a website at all:

ice bowl screenshot

If you are the site owner and you have invested considerable time and effort into UX and design, this could pain you. That’s why as an analyst there needs to be a full spectrum of tools used to understand mobile performance associated with your digital properties to report back to the business. For example:

  • Google MyBusiness will show how many users are interacting with your business details (as shown above) i.e. picture views, reviews, location and calls. It may show that there are many people who are engaged in some form but who aren’t included in your monthly performance reports.
  • Google Search Console will allow you to segment by mobile users and show which organic keywords people are using to find you, there could be some gems that mobile users search in comparison to desktop users. From this we could tailor content for more mobile ‘conversions’.
  • If you are using Google Ads, you should segment by mobile, you may be wasting a lot of money on desktop ads if your ads aren’t targeted correctly. Ads will also help with more keyword information than you can shake a stick at.
  • Google Analytics will show how mobile users interact with different elements of the site. You may also see that social media campaigns are only working for you on mobile and video content may be far more affective on certain devices, for example. You may also find that mobile users bounce more easily if the page isn’t rendering properly, or a CTA is button is missing.

If the end goal is to get users to your site and for them to engage with content beyond the simple tasks that Google SERPs can provide, then you may need to take a different strategy on mobile compared to desktop.  We should be thinking about how a mobile user thinks in comparison to a desktop user even before they get to a website, assess the gaps and try to fill them. If all else fails, go bowling.

If you are struggling to make sense of your mobile data and would like to better understand what it means for your Business, get in touch – we would love to help!