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According to various statistics, 2016 was the year when mobile internet usage surpassed computer usage for the first time. For all those who have been following the trends, this fact should not have been a surprise.
Nowadays, 80% of all Internet users have smartphones. These gadgets have become an inevitable part of our everyday life. Everywhere you go you will see people looking at their phones, scrolling, filming, chatting, browsing. So it is no surprise that the data shows that most of the sites have the majority of their traffic coming from mobile devices. This fact is crucial for all business and media websites.
As we could see from the stats below, the global mobile market share registers growth for the period January 2019 – January 2020 as well.
Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Platform Comparison Market Share
This shift has definitely increased the need for the creation of mobile-friendly websites. Otherwise, the losses may be huge. If mobile visitors don’t have a good experience on your website, you can expect a dramatic increase in your website’s bounce rate. This, in turn, will definitely impact your page ranking on search engines. An issue that no one who owns an online business or a blog wants to face.
All facts indicate that if you want to keep your daily visitors, you should make your site mobile-friendly. Since knowing this is not enough, you should know how to do it as well. So in this guide, we will reveal 10 essential steps that can help you make your site mobile friendly and save you a lot of troubles.
Before we begin let’s explain the essence of a mobile-friendly site.
What is a mobile friendly website?
A mobile-friendly website is a site that enables users to easily navigate through its different elements on their smartphones and tablets. The content of a mobile-friendly website adjusts to the screen size and the resolution of mobile devices used by visitors. This means that its different elements like touch controls, navigation menus, text size, buttons, etc. are optimized for all devices.
Therefore, users can find what they are looking for in a matter of seconds. By making your site mobile-friendly you will significantly improve its speed which in turn will be a good signal to all search engines’ bot agents. Furthermore, a mobile-friendly site can help you boost your reputation and improve the image of your brand.
Designing your websites to be mobile-friendly ensures that your pages perform well on all devices. Let’s start with the 10 essential steps to make your site mobile-friendly.
Build a Responsive Web Design.
Responsive website design means that your existing website is configured in a manner that automatically changes its layout by adapting to various devices. Whenever a user loads your website on any device, your website will adjust to the screen resolution of the device. As a result, the user will have a better experience while browsing the content of your website.
This is the best option to make your site mobile-friendly because you don’t need to manage two separate versions of your website – mobile and desktop. In addition, your mobile visitors can access all the information you publish on your site. There is no need to publish a desktop and a mobile version of every next article. What’s more, responsive design is good for SEO. Google confirms that it is their preferred format for mobile websites.
Help People Find Easier the Information They Need.
Most users want to find the information they need as fast and as easily as possible. Of course, there are people who don’t mind spending some time browsing to find the content they need but these users are mostly computer users. Anyway, the easier the steps the better. So think about the information which users will need most when they are on your site and then share that content on obvious enough places like the homepage and the footer of your site. You can also consider making a FAQ section where they can find all the answers they need with just a few touches and scrolls.
Do not Use Flash.
In the web development world, Flash doesn’t get much love these days. Many SEO specialists state that using Flash on your site is an SEO mistake. The technology is known to slow down page load. In addition, there are lots of browsers, operating systems, and devices like iPhones that don’t support Flash at all.
In fact, users are often encouraged to block sites that use Flash because of security issues. Flash has a long history of security flaws and bugs. Developers also share the opinion that Flash is terrible for mobile devices mainly because it drains battery and eats memory. Add the many bugs it has and you will definitely avoid using it for the development of your mobile site.
Of course, if you want your website to be modern and appealing to users you will need to consider adding technology for animations. The new standard is the HTML5 Canvas element. It is supported by all browsers, more efficient, and works on all devices. You don’t have to have special software to run it and there aren’t security issues to worry about.
Include the Viewport Meta Tag.
The viewport meta tag is a parameter that allows you to tell browsers how to load up your website. It is very useful in case you decide to keep one and the same site design for mobile and desktop. In other words, if your website has a responsive design (check step 1). The viewport meta tag renders well with both larger and smaller virtual viewport.
Here is an example of a viewport meta tag that is set to match the device dimensions:
→<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
You just need to paste this in the HTML code for each page and all browsers will fit the width of your page to the screen width of users’ devices.
Autocorrect Function Can be Inconvenient. Turn It Off.
Having the autocorrect function on for correction of common spelling or typing errors can really save time for a user. It is suitable in case a user is using an app or a website where he/she needs to create a text document, chat with another person, and so on.
As regards the various forms on your site that ask for a name or an email address for example, or enable the user to search and browse through the articles on your site, it is better to turn off the autocorrect function off. Otherwise, users can easily get pissed off when their phone or tablet tries changing their name or street address with more common words.
To turn off the autocorrect function for different input fields you need to include autocorrect=off in the HTML of each field.
Make Your Button Sizes Suitable for Mobile.
Clicking on a button of just about any size is quite an easy task when you do it with a mouse on a desktop. However, sometimes small buttons may become annoying, especially when a user needs to “click” them with a finger on his/her smartphone screen. If there are multiple small buttons that are very close to each other, a user can easily press one while trying to press another and this will certainly cause real annoyance to him/her.
You can save your visitors this annoyance by making the buttons on your site bigger. A good practice we can recommend it to take your time and test all buttons by yourself. Think of all types of mobile devices which you can use for the test and see how clicking on different added buttons feels. Apply some changes if necessary.
Use Large Enough Font Sizes.
If your default font is tiny and of small size, users may experience difficulties in reading the content on their small screen. A suitable choice of font size is minimum 15px. So go ahead test it out and consider if a larger one will suit better.
It is also recommendable to bet on standard sans serif fonts. All fonts that are not common and demand a download will slow down the process of loading your website which may irritate users and make them leave.
Compress Your Images and CSS.
One proved way to decrease site loading time and make it mobile-friendly is to compress files that take up a lot of space. Big size files like high-resolution images and CSS elements affect loading time which is a bad signal for both search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., and users. Website speed is now more important than ever for both desktop and mobile website versions.
The compression of big image files will not lower their quality but just make them easier to load. This step will definitely eliminate the negative effect of a slow-loading process while the quality of what people see will remain high. A convenient and effective service for reducing the file size of your PNG and Jpeg files is the TinyPNG
Provide a Switch to Desktop View Option.
Some of your phone visitors may prefer browsing the desktop version of your site. Make sure you give them an option to do that if it’s their preference. You want your visitors to be able to interact with your website in the way that they feel most comfortable with.
Make Mobile Testing a Routine.
What could be better than ensuring that your website’s mobile experience is as good as it should be by yourself? Right, the best thing you can do is to pick up your mobile device, open your site and spend some time browsing through it to see if anything is hard to see or difficult to touch, inconvenient to fill, etc. Furthermore, ask your employees, friends, and family to do the same. Sometimes people that are not involved in the process of making a site on a daily basis have fresher eyes and minds so they can share valuable thoughts.
Use Google AMP Framework.
Whether you are a blogger, e-commerce company, storyteller, or advertising agency, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) will make it easier for you to create great experiences on the web. AMP is an open-source HTML framework that is optimized for mobile web browsing and intended to help webpages load fast and smooth. You can use the AMP framework to speed up your mobile site and make it mobile friendly as well. If you are using WordPress you can leverage Google’s AMP framework with a simple plugin.
Is my website mobile-friendly?
If the question “Is my website mobile-friendly?” is on your mind, you can get an answer right now. Checking whether your website has a mobile-friendly look and functionality is easy. Google has made a mobile-friendly web-based tool that enables you to paste an URL address or code of a page and see how easy a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.
All you need to do is to insert a selected URL and click on the Test URL button.
Google’s test will then analyze the code of your website and display a result. Google will even list down the issues that affect the mobile-friendly look of your page and suggest solutions on how to fix it as well.
To analyze whether a page is mobile friendly or not on Bing, you can use their Mobile Friendliness Test Tool
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly Final Thoughts
Even if you complete all the mentioned steps, you are not done with the mobile version of your site. The way devices look and work changes on a daily basis and today’s mobile-friendly website may not still perform that well tomorrow. Keep testing, keep configuring if necessary, and continue to think about your mobile users as a priority. This mindset should help you be fine on rankings, fine on traffic, and fine on conversions.