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On April 1st, ESPN rolled out their new mobile-friendly website and detailed why they chose a mobile-first design: in January, they clocked a record 94 million unique visitors to their site—and a staggering 61% (57 million users) accessed the site on mobile devices only.

What are the top 4 things I should know when building a mobile-friendly website?…and they’re not alone.

Last year, mobile use surpassed desktop use by a wide margin. It’s clear the “days of desktop dominance are over” and mobile-friendly websites are a necessity for every business today. In fact, in a rare move, Google recently announced that as of April 21st, websites without a mobile-friendly version risk penalization in search rankings. That’s a BIG deal, folks.

Ready to make the move to mobile? Here are 4 things you should know.

Responsive web design is more important than ever with the variety of devices available today. Find out why your business needs a responsive web design.1. Google recommends responsive web design.
Not only does Google recommend responsive web design (RWD)—it’s a lot more practical for you. See, there’s a difference between mobile-friendly and responsive design. If you create a separate mobile-friendly version of your site, you’ll have to update both your original desktop version and your new mobile-friendly version.

But with RWD, you get an elastic style that adapts to fit and be readable on any device (desktop/mobile/tablet/etc). Users simply go to the same URL from any device and the responsive design makes your website look great on any-sized screen. This way, all your readers see the same content on any screen—and you can update all versions of your website at once.

2. To be cost efficient, invest in a design that can expand and grow with your business.
One of the best features of mobile first design is clean, uncluttered pages with easy navigation. Choose an extensible, dynamic template or design that that can expand and grow as your business grows. Your design should allow for added features and functions down the line, without sacrificing clean layout or readability.

Your readers are looking for great content, so it’s imperative to select a great design that lets you give it to them whenever you need to, in a format they can read wherever they happen to be.

3. Don’t handcuff yourself to one vendor.
Choose an open source website platform and design so you’re not tied to proprietary software, website design, and/or website development from a single vendor. It may be good for the vendor, but it limits your options if you want out. Down the road, if that one vendor doesn’t deliver quality, it may be difficult to take control of your own website, and even more problematic to move or expand your content.

You’re looking for a widely used, easily updatable platform (like WordPress) that you can update internally at any time, or externally by the creative vendor of your choice.

4. Hone in on your lead generation strategy with strong CTAs.
The success of your website depends on how well your users can navigate and accomplish their objectives—and how well those objectives go hand-in-hand with your lead generation goals. Prioritize your mobile design and layout by focusing on your users. Analyze and decide which features are most commonly used by your website visitors, then be sure each one stands out as easy to find and easy to click—pushing each user from visitor to lead with a strong call-to-action (CTA).

When designed properly, your new mobile-friendly website will be call-to-action (CTA)-friendly, because meeting your lead generation goals requires those strong CTAs. Use compelling, actionable language, and highlight and isolate CTA links so customers can see and click each one without any issues. Don’t let your leads escape by crowding your mobile site with too many links, making it impossible for your customers to hit the one they want. Give each visitor a reason to click and an easy way to get there. Be sure each page has the targeted content your customers came to see.

Making the move to mobile-friendly is a great opportunity to enhance your marketing strategy. Website design and marketing strategy are two sides of the same coin, so this is your chance to reevaluate how your prospects experience your website, connect with more customers by adding more targeted content, and take the time to strategically turn your mobile-friendly site into a lead generation machine. When website design and marketing strategy go hand-in-hand, you win—and so does your customer.

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