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Getting Mobile Right in a Desktop World

I’ve written in the past on the role of speed as a ranking factor with Google, and earlier this month Google (Chrome, to be exact) hinted that it may take things one step further.

In an update posted Nov 1st, Google’s Chromium blog posted that “Chrome may identify sites that typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging.” It went on to say that “this may take a number of forms” and that they would “plan to experiment with different options, to determine which provides the most value to our users“.

A graphic they shared (described by Engadet as ‘shame loading’) shows what these mobile results could look like:

Yikes.

In a mobile first world, this all got me thinking once again about the role of speed, users on the go, and how our Agency (and maybe yours too) struggles to get this piece right.

Getting Mobile Right in a Desktop World

Agency life here means desktop computers, dual monitors, high-speed processing, & super-high speed access to the web. Right out of the gate, we do not see our client’s websites, search results, and the general online experience as the rest of the world as they consume content on their phones. This means things like:

  • Break points and folds on websites
  • Search result features like Meta title length, Google Ads, etc.
  • Geo-location
  • Web elements such as buttons & links

So, how do we try and get a better understanding of a customer’s user experience while working on our fancy desktop computer setups?

Strategy 1: Use Chrome’s DevTools

For those unfamiliar, Chrome’s ‘Device Mode’ is the name for the loose collection of features in Chrome DevTools that help you simulate mobile devices. These features include simulating a mobile viewport (screen size), throttling the network (mimicking different connection speeds), throttling the CPU (mimicking older, slower phones), simulating other locations, and more.

Ultimately,  It’s an easy way to get quick insights into mobile issues without jumping workstations. It’s accessible via those scary right click mouse buttons in your browser. Check it out here.

Strategy 2: Use our fancy Ghostlab thingy

Several months ago, we picked up a very cool hardware / software combo that allows us to test multiple devices simultaneously called Ghostlab.

While likely considered more of a developers tool, we love the fact that we can start testing in one of the connected browsers or devices then ALL other browsers and devices mirror our actions. Including clicking buttons, following links, scrolling the page, hovering your mouse over special elements like flyouts, filling out forms…errthang!

Strategy 3: Use our ‘actual’ phones

So simple, yet by far one of my favorites.

While Chrome’s DevTools & assorted other rendering / testing software are some pretty amazing things to have, they can’t mimic every condition of a user on their cellphone.

For example, did you know that on my Telus carrier and without personalization, my phone thinks I’m in Calgary and all of my local search results (and ads) are Calgary based?!

If you’re running Google Ads with Geo-targetting, this could be quite significant, in addition to a host of other issues including how data shows up in Analytics and beyond.

Conclusion

The mobile web is only growing, and working on desktop computers all day gives an agency a skewed version of how the world is using the web. By using the 3 methods above, we hope to bridge this gap & gain a better understanding of life on tiny devices.

What strategies does your agency use to get mobile right? Share ‘em below!