idiglocal website design and web hosting from Stroud, Gloucestershire

Mobile Friendly Website design

Have you had the experience of visiting a website on a tablet or mobile device only to be frustrated by the fact that it doesn’t work properly, you can’t click the links, the layouts all out of whack or it takes eons to load? Considering how many people, up to 80% of users, use their mobiles to carry out searches on the web this is becoming unacceptable. So much so that google, from Tuesday the 21st April 2015, are going to roll out their next search engine algorithm update which is going to favour mobile friendly websites on mobile devices. Therefore, if you want your website to maintain its position in search engine rankings on mobiles, or if you want to improve its position over your competitors, then you need to make sure that your website is mobile friendly.

Test how mobile friendly your website is

A simple test is to use Googles Mobile friendly website testing tool. Visit the link and put in the web address of your website  and get Google to test how it performs. If you have a Google Webmasters account then you can use the “Mobile Usability” link under “Search Traffic” in the side menu. We did it with our website and you can see from the screen shot that our website performs well, we even have a mobile friendly menu so that its easier for people to navigate the website on their mobile phones or tablets. If you are running a business and rely on your website as a selling or marketing tool then you need to check as a matter of urgency. Remember how frustrated that you get with mobile unfriendly websites and apply that to your customers it could be losing you business.

Why is it important that your website is mobile friendly?

There are two reasons for making sure your website is designed to be mobile friendly:

  • User experience
  • Search Engine Optimization

According to the Office for National Statistics, between 2010 and 2014, internet access using mobile phones doubled from 24% to 58%. This trend is only going to increase. Therefore more and more of your customers, whether C2B or B2B are going to be getting that online impression of your company via their mobile devices. Poor mobile usability can mean 2 things. Firstly, it gives a bad first impression. If your website is unusable on a mobile device and has poor layout this can be reflected in a visitors view of your company and how it operates. Secondly, your website may actually be operating services for you, for instance an online store. In the second instance not having your website designed properly for mobile devices can result in you not being able to sell  to a committed customer simply because your website doesn’t actually work properly on a mobile device. So getting your website mobile friendly should improve your companies brand image and improve your business’s ability to deliver it’s services via a website.

Apart from how your website directly impacts your customers user experience and the direct effects that has on conversions how your website is designed will now, more than ever, have a big impact on potential customers finding your business via internet searches. Here is a quote from Google:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

In the UK Google accounts for ~87% for all search engine traffic, that’s a phenomenal market share and is to be ignored at your peril. So perhaps you currently feature well in google rankings for your business sector, from tomorrow you may find a significant drop-off in rankings, especially if you have close competitors who have had mobile friendly web design as a high priority. But ignoring the down side, there is an advantage to be had here as well. If your competitors are not on top of their game with respect to SEO and mobile website design this is an opportunity to get ahead, get your website designed mobile friendly and get ahead.

How to make your website mobile friendly

There are three main things to consider when making your website ready for mobile devices:

  • Does it still function on a mobile device?
  • Does it still look good on a mobile?
  • Does it load fast enough over a mobile network?

Does your website still work on a mobile?

You may assume that it does but that is not necessarily the case. Websites that rely on Flash content for example don’t tend to work on mobile devices as the web browsers that work on mobiles cannot operate Flash functionality. Also there can be some device specific Javascript issues. Javascript is a common scripting language that runs code from the visitors browser. So, depending on their device and what Javascript you have employed, your website functions may or may not work.

Does your website still look good on a Mobile?

This is chiefly to do with something that you may have heard about “Responsive design”. Responsive design basically describes the design of websites in such away that the way the content is laid out and the content itself changes in response to changes in device, particularly screen dimensions. This process is partly down to planning how the content is laid out in the first place, designing it so the layout lends itself to being displayed on different screen sizes, but also using code that is not to prescriptive, i.e. rather than using exact dimensions like 200px (pixels) for an element you would use 20%.

Its also possible to create a mobile specific layout and use coding techniques to tell the server to give a mobile version of a page if a visitor to your website is using a mobile device or even to hide elements if a user is using a mobile device. For instance, if a user visits on a mobile device they get presented with a mobile menu rather than the desktop version. So why would it be necessary to have a mobile menu? This is down to usability. Clicking links on a website using a mobile device can be difficult unless the screen is zoomed in on. You don’t want your users to be doing that every time they want to navigate around your website so making large and clear buttons to click can help them navigate your website.

Does your website load fast enough on a mobile?

This is a big problem, maybe not so much for users with a good G4 mobile signal. It is a usability issue and is about the frustration that users experience when waiting for the contents of your website to load. Load speeds also penalise your website in search engine rankings. The main thing to watch is large file sizes. I.e. you want images that are optimised for the web. So don’t use either lots of images or large images. Secondly, excessive use of additional files, like lots of different web fonts that need to be downloaded, Javascript files, CSS files all increse load speed as they will all need to be downloaded to present your website. Mobile friendly websites need to have simple clear content the use of Multimedia unless absolutely necessary.

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So if you are worried about how your website performs on a mobile device or you want to make the most of mobile website features then please get in touch with iDigLocal. We are always willing to answer any questions you may have. If you are a business in Gloucestershire you can always make the most of our #WalkaboutWednesday drop-ins, give us a call and arrange for us to come and visit you on a Wednesday or give us a call anyway and we can have a chat or arrange a visit.