Why Mobile-First doesn’t spell the end for desktops

29 October 2018

Reading time 4 minutes

With mobile usage expected to top 51% of all internet access it’s unsurprising that Google has announced its Mobile-First initiative, meaning it will now analyse the mobile versions of an organisation’s website rather than just its desktop version.

However, does this mean companies should abandon their desktop platforms? Are they becoming a redundant channel? It’s unlikely. The need for users to write at length, to email, blog, as well as a strong preference by people to have a large screen and keyboard for a multitude of tasks, means there are still a lot of limitations to mobile, which will ensure desktops remain important for a long-time to come.

So how do you balance the needs of mobile and desktops in a Mobile-First era?

Usability is everything

As we’ve seen, different platforms have different purposes, and this has its disadvantages to a provider. Consideration of how a user interacts with a platform can often end-up dictating both the content and design, yet it is important to remember the advantages this brings.

Once you understand how a user interacts with both mobile and desktop sites you can optimise each platform for the best possible experience, thereby meeting consumer needs whilst generating key insights for yourself in the process. With users expecting a seamless experience whether they are on their mobile or on a desktop, enriching your understanding of usability in both modes is a great differentiator.

Don’t play favourites

It will be tempting to abandon your desktop site, in favour of mobile, but as with above, there is still a need to nurture both. Favouring your mobile sites risks alienating not just consumers, but also potential opportunities to influence either purchasing decisions or consideration.

SEO best practice shouldn’t get lost in the transition – The good news is that website owners and marketers don’t need to abandon this knowledge. Understanding how to translate it into an application’s design and content, to ensure a competitive advantage remains a priority.

Understand your customer's needs

Ultimately, website owners must leverage their analytics to understand how customers are viewing and engaging with their sites. Analysing this data can be a great asset for site owners who operate on mobile and desktop, highlighting for instance which platform is used most frequently and at what times. If customers are using desktop more than mobile, or vice versa, it might indicate that users prefer to consume the information on a particular mode, or suggest where sites require further optimisation.

Whilst smartphones are incredibly popular for activities like social media, messaging and catching-up with gossip and news,it is also important to consider that a large number of consumers in western markets tend to use desktop for more detailed review and purchases.

With the majority of conversions happening from a desktop in most industries, organisations may want to consider a mobile experience that allows consumers the option to defer providing information, save trolley items or complete payment at a later date, perhaps on a desktop.