It’s 2017 and a year when mobile website readiness will really matter. At the end of 2016 two important milestones were reached;
- More websites were viewed from a mobile device than desktop computers (read source)
- At the end of 2016 Google said they would use how well a website performed for mobile users as one of their ranking factors – not just for mobile searches but for all searches. SEO experts have already noticed this taking effect for some searches. If your website is not designed to work well on mobiles it will suffer in desktop searches.
Does your website work for mobile users?
You can’t afford to ignore mobile readiness anymore. It is essential you assess the quality of experience you provide customers on mobile devices and make sure it is excellent. Of course if the web is not actually the basis of your business, just a tool you use, then you probably won’t know where to start. The article that follows will introduce you to some of the things you need to know and a range of free resources you can use to assess where you are and what you need to change.
The first place to start is with Google’s Mobile Readiness Test. This will give you a simple yes it is mobile friendly or it isn’t with further information about what will make your page perform better on mobiles. Google provides lots of useful information about makes a website good for mobile users and it’s a good starting point if this is all new to you.
Astounded Ltd are a sound system and lighting retailer and they redesigned their website at the start 2016 before mobile readiness was so crucial. They said; “We were not expecting our website to pass the Mobile Readiness test as this was not at the forefront of our thinking when we developed the new site. We have a complex stock catalogue and getting our ecommerce and Google Shopping data right had consumed all our energies. At the start of 2017 we started to think about mobile readiness and we weren’t expecting to pass without significant work. However when we ran our website through the Google test we passed which was great. We’re sure there will be things we could improve to make our mobile experience even better but it is good to know that the fundamentals are there.”
The Google Mobile Friendly Test Result
If your website fails this test then what do you do? That depends on how your website was built and how good you are at working with it;
Responsive – These websites are designed to work on all devices. Their design ensures that menus will work no matter what the device screen width is. As the screen size changes content blocks on the website smoothly reposition and resize to work at any width. The benefits of responsive designs are that there is only one set of files for every device reducing the time taken to maintain and update the website.
Dynamic – The website identifies which device is being used to view it and then delivers different files to users depending on their device. The downside to this is that there are several sets of files to maintain and update. So why do it? This method allows you to deliver the best experience to every user with no compromises. For desktop users you can incorporate huge images and more complex flash files and movement. For mobile users you can strip these elements out to deliver a paired back experience that loads quickly. In addition you can have separate shopping carts – desktop users can have complex forms whereas mobile users can be directed to a ‘we’ll call you back to collect your details’ form.
Separate Websites – you can have a site for desktops and tablets on one address and a totally different website for mobile users a different one.
Motoryatching.com first launched in 2016. They do not have premises, instead they provide an online exchange and mart for motor yacht owners – so the website experience is crucial to their success. “When we launched our first version of the website we had not properly considered mobile users and there were some spacing issues and problems with the forms on small devices. However it was fairly easy to fix. We did need to use a designer to make the changes but in-house testing on our phones helped us define exactly what changes we needed and made everybody in the office aware of how important it was to do. “
Businesses that built their websites from software like WordPress and Joomla should be able to (fairly) easily update or change their website template to one that is ‘mobile friendly’ or ‘responsive’. There are also some plugins that you can add to wordpress that will produce a simplified version of your site for mobiles – this will include a mobile friendly menu with the ‘hamburger’ icon (three horizontal lines).
In reality most business owners will need to buy some in some technical help to both review and improve their website.
Passing the Google test is a must do for 2017 but if you are ahead of the game you will be looking at what’s coming next. The Accelerated Mobile Project (AMP) is something you will want to be aware of. Essentially it is a movement acknowledging that mobile devices will be the dominant technology for viewing the web – therefore websites need to put mobile design first. Their mission is “Instant. Everywhere.” Their sites takes you through the main concepts and provides simple tutorials and detailed html snippets.
WordPress Plugins to Improve the Mobile Experience