On April 21, 2015, Google released a game-changing new algorithm that favors mobile-friendly websites in the mobile search results. Many popular SEO blogs referred to it by the term ‘mobilegeddon’. Although this wasn’t a surprising move considering the growing number of mobile internet users, many businesses are yet to adapt to this changing SEO scenario.
So now that we’re talking about mobile friendly pages, what is the best definition of a mobile friendly web page? It is certainly not just a page shrunk to fit the screen width of a smartphone as many might think! Let me put forward the most important factors that define the mobile friendliness of a website.
Loading speed matters more in Mobile
Let’s agree to the fact that mobile data is still slow and expensive in most parts of the world. Apart from the slow internet speeds, mobile devices have lower processing power compared to a desktop computer. Although these conditions might improve in the future, our businesses can’t wait idly till that happens, right? If you really value your customers who prefer browsing the web on their smartphones, you just have to provide them a fast loading website.
Loading speed is one of the biggest factors that define the mobile friendliness of a page. To make your site load faster on mobile devices, you need to shed a lot of not-so-important page elements on the mobile version. You can use Google’s own Pagespeed insights tool to see how well your site performs and make use of the tips given by the tool to improve your site. As Google famously said, the web should be faster.
Rectify the fat-finger issue
Smartphones have very small display sizes which makes tapping on a small screen element somewhat challenging. If your website uses very small tap points for the menu or navigational links, the users are going to have a hard time tapping on their desired point. Some people also have fat fingers which makes it even more difficult to use a touch input based device. To make your site truly mobile-friendly, you will have to make the tap targets on your mobile site bigger in size.
Use standard fonts instead of fancy ones
Custom fonts look good, there’s no doubt about it. But when it comes to a mobile website, they aren’t so cool. For one thing, custom fonts are heavy on the processor of most mobile devices out there. They also load slower than the standard ones making it all the more unsuitable for mobile friendly sites. The font size also matters a lot when it comes to readability on mobile devices. 14 Px is the recommended font size for a mobile-friendly web page and it is necessary to read without strain.
Avoid fixed positioning
If your site has a fixed header, sidebar or a menu that floats when a user scrolls the page, this is a very bad design practice on mobile websites. Mobile devices have limited screen area to display the website content and anything that uses this limited resource unfairly should be avoided. Fixed elements can also mess up the layout when users zoom in to the page rendering the user interface ugly.
Responsive design is the way to go
Responsive design is one that detects the screen width of the user’s device and adapts itself to show the best possible layout on that particular device. Responsive design is recommended by Google over having a separate mobile site. This kind of design has lower maintenance since any change made on the desktop site reflects on the mobile pages immediately. Development costs can also be cut down by following this approach.
Use compressed images
Images are the most data hungry elements on most web pages. When you have the mobile user in focus, high definition images shouldn’t be used on the pages at all. Use an image manipulation tool to losslessly compress those images to reduce their size and it will make your mobile pages considerably faster. It is also advised to give a 100% width to the images on mobile pages so that users don’t have to zoom in to read any text inside images.
A clean and simple user interface is a must
Mobile web users have a shorter attention span compared to the desktop users. This would mean they are more likely to leave a page that looks cluttered with unnecessary page elements and fancy design. To make the mobile web users stick on to your site, you need to make things simple and clean for them. Having an easy-to-navigate user interface will make sure they stay longer and this could in turn improve your conversion rates.
Give them the option to view your desktop site anyway
Since mobile optimized pages generally offer less features compared to the desktop site, some users might find it limiting and want to visit the desktop site on their mobile devices. It could be frustrating for them if there is no option provided for this. It is a good idea to include a link for switching to the desktop version of your site in the footer.
Make your contact and location info easily accessible
Since the mobile web users have a shorter attention span, they might easily leave if they couldn’t find relevant info about your business. Mobile users could be on your site to check on the working hours, find a booking number or your businesses nearest location. Isn’t it better to make this info easily accessible so that you don’t lose a potential customer?
Mobile web usage is on the rise and there is no ignoring it. The wisest thing to do now is adapt to this change quickly so that your business doesn’t get affected by the mobilegeddon. Optimizing your website for mobile users is not just limited to the above discussed points, the key idea is to be in the shoes of a mobile user and optimize your website accordingly.