Web Design & Development

The Dummy’s Guide to Making a Website Mobile Friendly

Written by Micah Phillips

Mobile technology has been entrenched into our lives, this report by Google proves. The average time a user spends on mobile has leapt to 3.3 hours per day, according to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report of 2018.

Hence, it becomes mandatory for you to create mobile-friendly websites, else they will lag behind their competitors and user experience will be compromised.

Why is it so? This is because, a mobile-friendly website enables instant access regardless of location, multiple screens, devices, connectivity (LTE/VoLTE/UMTS, CDMA) and OS. Hence, leverage all the secrets to make your website mobile friendly and impress Google Search Engines in the process.

Also, the data presented by Google’s Mobile Playbook stated:

● 57% users say, they will not recommend a poorly designed mobile website.

● 40% users turn to competitor’s website due to bad mobile experience.

Although, every business might not need a native mobile app, however a mobile- friendly website is mandatory.

Mobile-Friendly Mandate

Starting July, 2019 Google has mandated default mobile-first indexing for all new websites. This is what it means:

● Google’s smartphone Googlebot will crawl every new registered website.

● Mobile-friendly content will impact a website’s position in Google’s SEO rankings.

● Old website owners will get notified by Google once they’re seen as being ready

The bottom line here is that if you own a business website – old or new, Google wants them to be mobile-friendly. Optimize them quick or suffer low SEO rankings.

Is your website mobile-friendly? There are several tools to check whether your website is mobile friendly or not. However, when it comes to mobile optimization, there is a knowing vs. doing gap. Hence, here are the top 5 secrets that will make your website mobile-friendly.

1) Use Mobile-Friendly Themes/ Incorporate Responsive Web Design

Many renowned businesses still have a mobile and a desktop version of their websites. Their mobile website will usually have an “m” in the front of the desktop URL.

However, this arrangement is problematic, because developers have to take care of two different versions of the same site. The maintenance can get tricky because different designs mean separate coding every time anything is added to the website. Both versions have to be integrated differently and separately, which can be chaotic.

Use of responsive technology frameworks allows to lay out elements in a grid. You can then shift the grid on different screen sizes and adjust as per the devices whether it is smartphone or tablets.

Responsive frameworks like Bootstrap are free to use, well documented and easy to integrate. Using a responsive design will enable your website to adapt to the window size of your user’s screen. It is up to you to choose from a template library or designing your own.

Responsive designs for a website can not only provide visual boost and better UX, but also help to improve SEO rankings.

2) Optimize And Compress Images For Mobile

Although, mobile device screens seem to get bigger every day, but they’re certainly smaller than the average desktop. Therefore, too many fancy graphics will clutter your website increasing the load time.

This stands so true for business websites, because users don’t want to be bombarded with graphics neither increased load times. It is a major turnoff for them. Hence, keep it simple.

Any delay beyond five seconds, will make mobile users leave the webpage. Therefore, as a business owner you must ensure that your site loads quickly without eating up the user’s data plan.

How do you know the speed of your webpage? There are several free tools that can help you test your page speeds.
These tools will give you recommendations on what steps you have to ensure faster loading times. Fast page speeds can usually be achieved by optimizing webpages, compressing images and graphics, removing unnecessary plugins or popups and reducing the number of URL redirects.

You can use several free tools like TinyPNG or TinyJPG. Or you can choose to change the dimensions of images to make it smaller.

3) Keep Content Precise And Clutter-Free

Mobile users want to find the information they need fast, especially when they are on the move. Showing the most important first and crisply is what would help improving SEO rankings.

Also, it can be very frustrating for users to click small buttons on their small smartphone screens. And, if there is a need to click on several small buttons, then it can be exasperating for your mobile website users.

You must start by testing all the buttons you have on your website for mobile phone users, to make sure that they are at a good size to be seen and clicked. Along with that, you must keep aside time to also test any new button that is being integrated on your inner pages.

A high ranking mobile-friendly website must have large text and buttons. You can test this by viewing your website in different modes.

The Mobile Playbook by Google has set universal rules for mobile websites. It outlines the goals to tailor and rearrange content for specific audiences instead of leaning the version of your website. Tailoring and rearranging according to the Playbook means:

● Keeping it simple

● No beating around the bush. Getting straight to the point.

● Eliminating every word that is unnecessary.

● Start with the most important stuff

For the recommended content ration please refer to the image below.

Tell your story with very few words, keep the content short and sweet and go easy on text are few references on how content on a mobile website must be. Be precise with content but you can add icons, it won’t clutter your website. Availing web designing services will ensure that symbols and icons used, are appropriate and the site is optimized for mobile devices.

4) Going Beyond Responsiveness

The mobile device has a small screen, and this leaves you with very limited space to be innovative. Developing something that requires complex hardware requirements will limit your reach. An application that is slowing the loading time, draining the battery or taking up large disk space will have an adverse effect on the mobile UX.

Here are a few other things to consider when building a mobile-friendly website:

Avoid Flash animations

Flash animations can significantly slow down the website speed, that is the reason it pulls the ranking of websites down. Android or iOS devices fail to support flash, this is another reason you must let it go. Choose a web design sans Flash animation to give a boost to your SEO rankings. It is advisable to go for other technologies that could replace Flash.

In fact, switch to compatible HTML technology for a mobile-friendly experience. HTML is accessible to all types of smartphones and tablets.

Turn off Auto Correct options for forms

Auto Correction in forms can be a major turnoff for users. Turning off the autocorrect form will help them save time and energy. Although, this may sound as a simple modification from your end, but it means a lot to boost the user experience for your website.

To make this modification, all you need to include autocorrect=off in the HTML coding.

Incorporating a viewport meta tag

Integrating this Meta tag lets you check the look of your website on all devices like – mobile phones, desktops, tablets and laptops. If the web pages popup appears same width on all devices, then the user is in for some frustrating scrolling from side to side.

But with the help of the viewport Meta tag which communicates with browsers to fit the width of your page to the device in question, things can be sorted.

All you have to do to integrate viewport is to paste this onto the HTML for each page: <Meta name=“viewport” content=“width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

Mobile Testing Everyday (Track and Analyze Visitor Behavior)

Testing your website on every platform will help you find and give accurate feedback to your developers. Be precise in letting them know your expectations as responsive designs can be tricky. You must take your time on the project and make sure that you get the outcome that will help high rankings for your website.

You can keep a track on Google Analytics to understand user behavior and website performance. If mobile visitor shows a high bounce rate on every or a particular OS, you must ask your designer to check for UI errors and loading time issues.

Inspect and optimize. These are the parameters to track for a healthy mobile site:

● Increased visits to the site.

● Bounce and dropout rate of every page and for various devices.

● OS and devices used.

● Repeat visits.

● Number of pages browsed.

UX of a mobile website is a large contributor to sales and conversions. Therefore, as a business owner ignoring UX concepts will never help increase mobile profits. At the same time, it is also important to analyze traffic and user behavior from multiple devices.

Wrapping Up

Portability and speed – these are the two top factors that decide the market winner in this fast paced mobile world. Therefore, if your website does not take care of the UX, you will lose in this competitive world.

A mobile-friendly website is not just about a responsive model. It is also about what your users expect from your website and how you provide to them without any hassles.