November 6, 2016

A (mobile) Bullet Dodged

The past couple of months I’ve worked on a number of optimization and improvement projects for, most of which the immediate benefits of were either small or unknown. Projects like adding an SSL certificate or minifying code. Sure it’s generally better to have an https connection, but it’s not strictly necessary for a website that doesn’t handle sensitive information. The code footprint was small, so that 20% gain I got from minifying it didn’t amount to a significant difference. I considered these projects future proofing. Maybe some day I’ll serve premium apps that require payment, and code footprints have a tendency to grow. Besides, these projects are all good practices web developers are encouraged to follow as a matter of principle. Google wasn’t penalizing websites who weren’t following these best practices yet, but was leaving the door open to in the future.

For at least one of those projects that future is now, apparently.

Google is now experimenting with mobile first version of their index. Now is a good time to have a mobile friendly website, especially one using dynamic serving like Datayze where the content between the desktop version and the mobile version is identical, but displayed in a device friendly way. Some speculate that the change will result in a penalty for desktop only centric websites, however that does not appear to be the case. Yet. There’s that word again. As we become an increasingly mobile world, I can imagine a scenario were it is more advantageous to use the mobile based index for all searches, than to keep two indexes, or use the desktop based version.

The change to a mobile first index is coming at a rather fortuitous time since I started creating the mobile friendly versions of my apps back in August and had just about finished them. I had exactly five pages left that technically satisfied the mobile friendly test, though my human eye wasn’t quite satisfied with them yet.

Admittedly I had mixed emotions when I first heard the news. Fear. (What if my mobile version website isn’t as robust as I think it is.) Excitement. (Maybe the fact that I’m mobile friendly now will give me a competitive advantage of my competition that hasn’t made the leap yet.) It looks like most of my competition is already mobile friendly, so this change probably a wash for me. Good news: at least it’s not a penalty like it could have been!

Onward and Upward.

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