Last year, Google revealed that mobile traffic had overtaken the number of desktop searches in 10 countries (including Japan and the US). This is testament to the massive advances in phone technology, with people now able to simply reach for their mobile devices to Google a question or research a local business.
All companies should ensure their website is optimized for smartphones – if not, you run the risk of frustrating potential customers and effectively chasing them away to your competitors. For maximum impact and user engagement, your site must offer high-quality performance and visuals on a screen of any size.
Google’s ‘Mobilegadden’ algorithm update was designed to target sites based on their mobile optimization – those that functioned to a high standard on non-desktop devices saw an increase in their rankings while those that didn’t saw their rankings drop.
A 2014 comScore report reveals that, of time spent accessing digital media in the States, 60 percent involved tablets and smartphones (an increase of 50 percent from the year before). Any company looking for ways to increase their rankings would do well to evaluate how well their website performs on mobile devices.
For web developers, there are various ways to boost a site’s mobile optimization, but dedicating time and energy to best practices will help to create a more effective, efficient, and competitive site.
Focus on Responsiveness and Flexibility in Your Existing Site
Rather than building a new site solely for mobile use, implementing the most responsive design possible in your current site is the smarter, easier choice.
What does responsive design encompass?
- The flexibility to adapt to each device, with a layout that adjusts to fit the user’s specific screen size
- Without two separate sites, only one web address is needed for the domain’s different versions
- A high rate of consistency to suit users across all of their devices and browsers, ensuring a real sense of familiarity and ongoing engagement
- Redirects do not feature in the site’s coding
Alongside these benefits, less time is needed to maintain both sites – your business can focus its energies on one ‘umbrella’ domain instead of dividing resources. Whenever changes to design or function are implemented, these will register on all devices, eliminating the time-consuming task of tweaking two domains.
For these reasons, responsive design is a must for businesses of all sizes.
Building Content that Suits Screens of Different Dimensions
Without doubt, many of your current and potential customers will access your site on their mobile devices. As well as cultivating a responsive layout, you also need to consider the way in which content is arranged – when a domain’s text shrinks to fit a smaller screen, it becomes cramped and harder to read.
Again, you cannot allow any aspect of your site to cause frustration. You could be costing yourself money.
Your content should appear the same on all screens, no matter how big or small, no matter its orientation. When crafting content, pay attention to its arrangement – if you have huge blocks of text, will these be easy to read on a smartphone or tablet? For existing content, study it in-depth to identify the most important areas: Which parts can a user enjoy on a smaller screen most effectively, and why? Which sections can afford to be sacrificed?
Remember: a visitor to your site wants the essential information as soon as possible. Don’t make them hunt for it.
Make Images as Responsive as Possible
On mobile-optimized domains, images must adjust to the user’s device as quickly as possible – waiting for media to load tests the patience of us all. Images can be made more responsive by:
- Scaling images via coding will cause them to fit the user’s screen and stay securely within their containers, but this may still lead to some slow-down as the browser needs to download a bigger copy of the picture
- Using a HTML markup gives designers the power to identify more than one source for images, which stops browsers from having to download bigger copies than necessary. Not all browsers accommodate this markup yet, but if available it should be implemented on all sites.
To help optimize your site’s images even further, pay attention to the size of files needed, as well as their resolution. While high-quality media is vital to users’ enjoyment, bombarding mobile browsers with more than they can handle causes slowdown and irritation.
Optimize Your Site for Touch Devices
As anyone who has struggled with clumsy touchscreen buttons on a mobile site will know, ending up on the wrong page because you selected a different CTA than you intended is a major irritation.
Your site should be easy to navigate by touch alone, scrolling and swiping as needed. If a user can’t find the page or information they need quickly, you may lose them altogether. Factor this in when optimizing your site for mobile devices:
- Use buttons that are big and clear enough for easy interaction
- Adjust our text’s size and layout – a font of 16x and line spaces of 1.5 are ideal for smaller screens
- Avoid annoying customers with pop-up ads or messages. While these can easily be closed on a desktop, these are intrusive and frustrating on mobile devices as the ‘close’ icon is typically harder to spot and touch
- Never use visual effects that translate poorly to smaller screens, such as hover effects
Feel the Need for Speed
For mobile-optimized websites, speed is crucial.
The amount of HTTP requests it makes can affect load-times. Whenever a visitor lands on your domain, an HTTP request is processed, with the browser requesting the necessary files from the server.
This will make a noticeable difference to your site’s performance on mobile devices.
Routine Testing to Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
Regularly testing sites across desktop and mobile devices is essential to find elements that work well and others that don’t. The models and sizes of smartphones and tablets used will vary, and so just accessing a domain via one isn’t enough.
Monitoring your site’s performance after implementing changes is key to providing the most responsive performance. Navigation, speed, scannability, and quality of media should all be assessed to maintain the most engaging site.
At WebNet Hosting, we’re dedicated to providing our clients with the most reliable hosting services today. To discuss your site’s performance, give us a call.