Since 2015, Google has taken into account how 'mobile-friendly' a website is in ranking sites on its search page. But this year, it will be taking a 'mobile first' approach – which means that it will use the mobile version of a website to determine how relevant it is.
So clearly, if you want your website to perform well on Google, it needs to be a really strong mobile site. But what does mobile mean these days? What are the devices that we need to be designing websites for?
Here's the lowdown on the devices you should be designing for in 2019.
The iPhone was the all-out winner in the UK last year, with the top 5 most popular phones all Apple-made. The top device is the iPhone 7, owned by around 13% of those online in 2018. The iPhone 8, 6 , 7 and SE models are owned by a further 25%.
The next most popular phone at number 6 in the list was the Samsung Galaxy S8, owned by just under 5 per cent. The entire top ten is made up of iPhone and Galaxy models.
So what does that mean for web developers? Well, the good news is that several iPhone models have the same size screen. There's a useful guide here explaining the different screen resolutions for iPhones.
According to DeviceAtlas, the most common screen resolution in the UK is 750x1334, which has 32% of the market. The next most popular is 1080x1920 at 19%.
Ownership data for tablets is less easy to find, but in 2018, 33 per cent of tablets in the UK were iPads. There are more brands in the top 10 devices, however, including Samsung, Lenovo, Microsoft and Amazon.
There's a list of popular screen sizes on this page, which underlines how many different sized devices there are today.
Clearly, it's impossible to design for every possible screen size. What's important is to establish rules and parameters for different screens, so that every website visitor gets the best possible experience.
Beyond responsive design
Until now, the approach was to design a website for a laptop or PC user, and make it adapt (respond) when viewed on a mobile – so that it is easier to navigate and explore on a smaller screen. This is known as Responsive Design.
In response to Google's new direction, though, web designers are now too moving to 'Mobile First.' That means they design a site primarily for viewing on a device. More people now view websites via mobile than on desktop, so it's a valid strategy.
The key in mobile first design is simplicity. Your message should come across loud and clear, and it should be easy for users to find the information they want. This might mean shorter, snappier content and clear 'calls to action' such as encouraging the customer to get in touch.
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