The use of smartphones to do tasks that were originally done by desktops has been increasing significantly. Many tech companies have noticed this trend and are moving fast to tap into the newly created market niche. In this view, the tech giant, Google, announced in 2016 that it would move to a mobile-first index. In January 2018, Google started to implement strategies set to enable the vision of mobile-first index. The implementation of the mobile-first index will be a big thing for companies as this will change their rankings significantly. Currently, Google uses desktop content for rankings even though some companies have fast and mobile-friendly websites. However, with the number of people accessing the internet through smartphones surpassing that of desktops, it only makes sense that rankings are based on mobile content. As such, it is important for Badu Company Limited to ensure that their website is easily accessible and has high quality content.
Badu Company Limited already has a mobile website hence only a few changes will be made to improve the user experience. As of now, the website shows almost the same content as shown on the desktop website. However, caution will be taken to ensure that content with high search engine optimization benefits is not eliminated. To improve user experience, the following measures will be implemented.

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Enhance the Site Speed
Site speed is the most significant feature (among others) that will help improve the overall user experience. Site speed will be improved through Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), or PWAMP. The AMP is an open source project designed to enhance the mobile ecosystem. Through the use of pared-down HTML, AMP enables the administrator to load the website’s cache than the conventional HTML. In addition, Google caches the website’s content in their cache which significantly lowers the overall loading time. As a result, the user enjoys high speed and high visibility of search results.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) present an alternative to Accelerated Mobile Pages. Their main strengths include reliability, fast, and engaging. When PWAs are launched from the user’s end, the service workers enable the PWAs to load instantly regardless of poor connection. A service worker refers to a client-side proxy that enables the administrator to control the cache and the manner in which to respond to search requests. By pre-caching main search requests, the client eliminates the dependence on the network which results in reliable and instant results hence better user experience.

The rate at which a web page loads (performance) is a key determinant for any business that has an online presence because businesses with highly responsive websites engage and retain users better than low performing websites. A survey by Google Developers found that Pinterest increased their sign-ups and search engine traffic by 15% after rebuilding their website and reduced the wait times. The survey also showed that BBC lost 10% of users for an additional second that their website took to respond. These findings demonstrate that high performance is an asset and poor performance is a liability. DoubleClick revealed that users abandoned 53% of mobile sites if they took more than three seconds to load. Pre-caching the key search requests eliminates these problems by improving the site speed.

Apart from PWAs and AMPs, PWAMP is another way of improving the site speed and overall performance. PWAMP entails a combination of PWA and AMP that are built on CSS, JS, and HTML. The term PWAMP was coined by Garry Illyes in 2017 (Google’s webmaster trend analyst) who underscored the significance of mobile site speeds. In this view, Garry opined that a hybrid of Progressive Web App and Accelerated Mobile Page could be the solution to the much needed high site speed and satisfying user experience. PWAMPs use the stripped back code of AMP which makes the site pages light hence delivering super-fast user experience. That combined with the benefits of PWAs ensures a fast-loading mobile site.

Improvement of Content on Site
The content accessed by users on a mobile site will be critical to the website rankings. Given that Badu has a mobile site and a desktop site which show different contents, it is paramount that a thorough audit is conducted to reveal any missing gaps in both sites. The Screaming Frog Crawler is a perfect tool that could be used to identify the gaps. The results are analyzed and changes made appropriately.

Other ways of improving how users interact with the site content include using drop-down menus appropriately, avoiding using flash, controlling pop-ups, and optimizing the text size, padding, and tap targets. While making changes to drop down menus, it is imperative to understand that Google has come up with new standards regarding their usage. Due to the limited space of mobile sites, Google has allowed sites to “hide” content behind a drop-down provided the content loads simultaneously as the page. Also, it is advisable to use Java or HTML as interactive elements because they are highly engaging.

Pop-ups should be controlled and limited to their perfect place and time. Given that Badu Company Limited relies heavily on its website to generate leads, pop-ups are a vital tool of getting users to sign up for programs. However, they can be annoying and liability when they prevent the user from accessing their destination. Therefore, careful considerations should be made like at what point in the user’s journey does a pop-up show and what the user is most likely to be doing at that time. Besides pop-ups, tapping the wrong button when the user is trying to navigate to a specific destination is equally annoying. Thus, the site should be finger-friendly by resizing the tap targets accordingly and providing sufficient padding between clickable targets.

Overall, the shift to a mobile-first index is inevitable. The shift is driven by Google’s objective of improving the mobile web. Even though some organizations might argue that their sites are well-prepared for the paradigm shift, the reality is that the majority are ill-equipped. Most of the websites are designed for desktop users and then modified for mobile users. For any company to benefit from high site performance, this attitude has to change. As studies have shown, more users access sites using mobile devices than desktops. This trend is projected to intensify in the future. For this reason, it is only sensible that companies prioritize the users experience on mobile devices because it is more and more likely they will access the website from a mobile device than from a desktop.

In order to align the attitude with the shift to mobile-first index, a thorough audit of the user experience on a mobile device is critical. While carrying out the audit, the ease of finding the information searched by users should be established. Also, the auditors should analyze the overall state of navigation of the site, the check-out process, the ease of closing pop-ups, the font used, and the contact details of the company. The results of the analysis will reinforce the efforts of improving the user experience. All that, together with the implementation of the measures discussed above, are sure to guarantee a perfect realization of a site with a high performance and great user experience.

    References
  • Hirst, Gavin. “Is PWAMP the Future of Our Mobile-first World?” Digital Hothouse. Last modified September 26, 2017.
  • LePage, Pete. “Your First Progressive Web App | Web Fundamentals.” Google Developers. Last modified July 2, 2018.
  • Perez, Sarah. “Google Begins to Roll out Mobile-first Indexing.” TechCrunch. Last modified March 26, 2018.
  • Wagner, Jeremy. “Why Performance Matters | Web Fundamentals.” Google Developers. Last modified July 20, 2018.