Smartphones have certainly changed not only our professional, but also our everyday lives. No matter where we go, which information we need to look up, which products we want to buy, the smartphone is our trusty companion.
The mini computer has started a revolution, first lead by the iPhone’s launch in 2007. This marked a turning point for the way websites are designed and used, since they now have to account for mobile use.
Many people do not even own a computer, as every important everyday task can be handled by your smartphone. Just compare numbers: over 3 billion people own a smartphone, while only 1.4 billion use a computer. This tendency is growing, as mobile traffic keeps increasing year after year. It will actually surpass desktop traffic very soon, a challenge which needs to be addressed by you as a website owner. A mobile-friendly site is paramount to a high ranking within search engines, as mobile browsing dictates large part of the incoming traffic.
The advantages mobile offers are varied. Not only is the required technology much cheaper, a phone is simply more versatile than a computer. You can snap photos wherever you are and have them uploaded instantly via an app.
While the first designs of mobile internet looked to the computer for guidance, desktop concepts do now take smartphone functions as their example. The number of apps or voice assistants is growing on computers and was primarily inspired by smartphones. As you can see, this trend is here to stay and you do not want to miss out on it.
What Does Mobile design Entail?
A well-designed mobile website can be displayed on any screen, no matter its size. Apart from smartphones, tablets are another important element of the mobile experience. A great mobile site needs to be able to fill the screen without any delays and display its information in a clear and fitting way.
As a mobile page is more demanding than its desktop equivalent, you should at least consider designing it with mobile as a priority. If you are building a website from scratch, it is much easier to convert a mobile design to a desktop one than the other way round. Furthermore, smartphones are less powerful than actual computers, which is why a large amount of animations and images slow down the mobile experience and make the page look cluttered on the small screen. Therefore, the desktop concept does not translate to the pocket version. If you reverse this process, however, you start with a stripped-down template you can expand on when it comes to the design for desktop.
Less is truly more when it comes to mobile optimization. Remember: the most important attribute for a mobile page is that it loads fast. The cleanest, most well-designed mobile site is worthless, if it takes too long to be displayed on the phone screen, as users will close it without a second thought if it is not loaded instantly.
Know Your Audience
The purpose of your website is instrumental in deciding its design. If you are a retailer, customers are more likely to check out your products on the mobile site rather than the desktop version. Before you start with building your page, you should first find out how customers use your site and then adjust your strategy accordingly.
To broaden your target audience, you should also consider those who have special needs. Making your page readable for people suffering from colorblindness or offering bigger font sizes for visually impaired users can make a big difference.
The social aspect is not to be underestimated. Lots of content today is shared through social media. If you maintain a blog and want to attract more attention, this is one of the main channels to exploit. You get free advertising via word-of-mouth if someone shares your content.
To make the most of this, create your own social media presence. This provides users with additional information should they have gotten aware of your service. With a dedicated Facebook page or Instagram account, you offer visitors different entry points and present your products or services in all of their aspects.
A Professional Design
The way a mobile page looks reflects on the product or service in a significant way. If your site does not look professional, customers will assume that what you are selling also is not. There are enough well-designed websites out there as for customers not to waste a second thought on a less clean looking one.
The web page is the first impression visitors get of you and your products or services. Professional design shines through via many different aspects. The ideal font can make a big difference, for example, as standard typography will not make you stand out. If you go too crazy, your trustworthiness suffers.
Mobile = App?
The triumph of the smartphone is inseparably linked to the rise of apps. They take the mobile concept one step further and integrate all the functions customers want to be able to use on their phone into a single program. But do you also need your own application? It depends. What is it that you want to achieve, what is the purpose of your website and your product or service? Do you strictly seek to provide information? Then having a dedicated app is less important (there are exceptions to this, of course, but they concern worldwide information services such as Wikipedia). Should your website, however, provide a service of daily importance, customers are more likely to appreciate a comfortable application. Comparing travel fares, checking your bank account or ordering food are regular occurrences and users will probably grant it valuable space on their phone screen rather than an application pertaining to a more obscure service. Downloading an app requires time, effort and memory space. That is why customers will only go the extra mile if they expect to use its functions regularly.
How to Make Website Mobile Friendly — A Guide
Test It Yourself
Along the process of designing your mobile website, make use of different devices to get a preview of how your page will look on mobile. This way, you will already be able to make out areas which need improvement and can apply correctional measures in the most efficient way.
Take an Android smartphone, an iOS smartphone and a tablet and compare. Do all of them display the website the way you intended to? Does each device load the page fast enough? Can you navigate throughout the site with ease and is it readable, even for people who have certain impairments?
If you want to take this trial-and-error one step further, you can take advantage of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. This aptly named little helper will show you whether your mobile page’s performance is up to scratch or whether you need to put in more hours.
Mobile Optimization — The Right Web Host
The success of your mobile page stands and falls with its web host. The host determines the foundation you build your site on, and no amount of effort can make up for the limitations you impose upon yourself by choosing the wrong web host. If the web host is slow, you will never achieve mind blowing loading speeds for your site, no matter how slick the code is. As we said, speed is a crucial factor for mobile quality. To test your page’s speed performance, Google has designed another useful application called Mobile Speed Test tool. Just enter the URL you want to test into the search bar and the program will tell you how fast the site at hand is.
What good is the perfect website if it is down all the time? Choose the web host that can guarantee you the minimal amount of downtime, so that customers will not be driven away by a 404-message.
If you want to make the most of the web host, you should consider going for a managed dedicated server. This is a server whose resources are reserved for your (and only your) personal needs. There is no alternative providing greater speed and security than a managed dedicated server.
Mobile Optimization with Pop-ups
Pop-ups may sometimes suffer from a rather divided reception, but they are undoubtedly attention-grabbing. If something is good enough for some of the most successful and well-respected mobile sites, it is also good for you. They are, however, to be enjoyed in moderation. If you go overboard with them, your trustworthiness decreases significantly and customers will close your page faster than you can blink.
A few pop-ups sprinkled throughout the pages, strategically placed, will catch the visitors eye and increase the likelihood of him staying.
You have to extremely careful, though. Mobile screens are small, and an annoying pop-up ruins the experience on mobile even faster than on the desktop version. Do not let pop-ups take up the entire screen or obstruct important functions and information of your own website. Furthermore, users must not have any difficulty in closing them. An adequately sized, clearly visible closing button is crucial for this.
Keep in mind: Google uses severe pop-up penalties, punishing you for using malicious, frustrating or otherwise misleading pop-ups.
To make sure that you are not in violation of any of these guidelines, be careful when implementing pop-ups and keep the customer’s perspective in mind at all times.
A Successful App
As mentioned earlier, not all products and services require an app. If you provide something that users will only make use of every once in a while, the chances of them downloading a dedicated program are slim to none. The trend, however, seems to be one of turning every little smartphone function or internet task into an app. Therefore, a niche for your app is becoming more and more viable in this rapid market.
An app allows you to implement extra functions and optimizing every aspect of this presentation, which users might not be able to experience via a mobile site. You can offer a direct subscription button, design a layout free of the limitations of a web page or access specific smartphone functionalities such as notifications.
If the effort required to build your own app does not scare you off, this is an effective method to optimize your mobile presence even further, with growing potential in the future.
Mobile Optimization — Conclusion
Mobile browsing has already overtaken its desktop variant and will continue to gain an advantage in the future. Often times, the smartphone or tablet options are more convenient, faster and readily available wherever you are. Not only customer behavior, but also search engine ranks make it indispensable to put great care and effort into your mobile presentation.
At this point in time, there are still lots and lots of competitors who have not become aware of this importance (at least they are not acting on it). To gain a foothold in the world of mobile browsing (and the internet in general), make the optimization of your own pocket presentation count — it will pay off!