Mobile Friendly Websites – are you prepared?

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Mobile Friendly Websites

Have you ever considered the impact that mobile devices may be having on your business? Do you know that today more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers? Is your site optimized to provide a good mobile experience?

If the answers to all these questions are affirmative then your website is mobile friendly and you are prepared to face this growing trend, if not please continue reading.

What are mobile friendly websites?

A mobile friendly website is developed and optimized so that each visitor, no matter which mobile device they have, can properly use all of the website features such as listing the business address and telephone numbers or more advanced features such as online ordering and purchasing. Mobile friendly sites may also have mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.

In short, a mobile friendly site is a website that changes the way it looks depending on the device from which it is being viewed. Like any website, mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video; but information displayed, the menu structure and how a site operates may vary depending on the device.

Why make a website mobile-friendly?

Google already announced that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. This refers only to smartphones because Google groups tablets with desktops. According to another Google survey more than 70% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.

In mobile searches, mobile-friendly sites are ranked higher in the Search Engine Page Ranking Results (SERPs) than non-friendly sites. Meaning, if your website is mobile friendly it will be shown above non-friendly web sites when users search via mobile device.

Good customer experience is everything

It is all about the user experience. Mobile web usage is rapidly growing and it can have a massive impact on your business. If the experience is poor, users will probably lose interest and look for what they need elsewhere. This can ruin your business by generating low quality traffic.

Mobile devices come in a variety of different sizes – this makes it harder to meet all requirements (screen size, image size, navigation, etc). But if your website is, in fact, mobile friendly and fulfills these conditions it can provide a significant competitive advantage to your business. 

How to be sure that your site is mobile friendly?

Google has a very simple tool you can use to check whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. It is called Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Pages are evaluated individually so basically this tool will give you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer for every web page separately. To evaluate your visitors’ experience and to get a sense for how your top pages perform visit your website on a mobile device browser.

  • Can you navigate the site easily?
  • Do the images download quickly?
  • Can you read the text?

The following is a list of features that are essential for your mobile friendly website to provide good customer experience:

  1. Loads fast – faster load times go a long way in driving consumer engagement
  2. Easy to read – mobile phone screens are 1/5th the size of desktop computers, so text need to be easily readable on small screens
  3. Easy to navigate – it needs to be easy to navigate with a finger
  4. Minimal scrolling – not just vertically, but also horizontally
  5. Avoids using Flash – flash-based content is not mobile friendly, if you want to use animations consider using other technologies like HTML 5

Choosing the right approach

There are several approaches to creating a mobile-friendly website. They are usually divided into three types:

  1. Responsive design – This is the most common way to create a mobile friendly site. URL, HTML, images, everything remains the same, but the CSS gives different rules based on browser width. The website uses a structure of fluid and flexible grids and images that move to different positions depending on what size of screen it is being viewed. Content moves freely across all screen resolutions and all mobile devices, so no scrolling or resizing is needed. It is cost effective and recommended by Google.

Despite the fact that Responsive design is probably the best choice and most often used, it also has some difficulties.  It does not allow a different writing style appropriate for mobile devices, or altering of information architecture. Also large pages that are fine for desktop may be slow to load on mobile, so simply resizing images is not always adequate.

  1. Dynamic Serving – This approach serves different code to each device, but on the same URL. It offers differentiation of mobile content (potential to optimize for mobile-specific search intent). The down side is that it requires complex technical implementation and costs more to maintain.
  2. Separate Mobile SiteThis method is very different to Responsive design as it means creating an entirely new version of your website with content custom made for mobile users. It provides best performance since only mobile-specific content, styles and scripts are sent to mobile users.

Separate mobile site is a second, parallel site that has its own HTML.  It does not need to look like the main site, or even have the same set of content or pages. Because it needs to have a new domain, most companies use “m.domain.com”. It also provides a completely different user experience on desktop and mobile devices.

Unfortunately, this approach is not without its drawbacks – higher cost of maintenance, more complicated SEO requirements, and due to the use of a separate domain, links shared from mobile browsers will not count as search link equity toward the primary site.

What about Native Mobile App?

A mobile application, most commonly referred to as an app is a type of application software designed to run on a mobile device rather than being rendered within a browser. It may pull content and data from the web, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection. The good thing about apps is that they employ awesome mobile-specific features such as use of a camera, click-to-call buttons, GPS data etc. Choosing between a responsive website and a native app is more a business call than going into the technical capabilities of what each platform has to offer. The one that is better will depend greatly on the specific product you are building and what gives the best experience to your users.

Which approach is the best for your business?

Each approach has inherent advantages and drawbacks. Generally speaking, the best approach is the one that best suits your business.

Careful analysis is required to ensure that your mobile solution is built using the right approach to meet your business requirements. So when making a final decision on which of the mobile optimization methods to choose, you should keep in mind your business goals, budget, industry features and user experience.

Whatever you choose do not forget that mobile search and compatibility is critical to your business.  Make sure your potential clients have a great user experience while visiting your website from their mobile devices.

Need more information?

Contact us or give us a call.  We’re happy to speak with you.

Jillian Vanarsdall
Jillian Vanarsdall
Founder of Blue Iris Marketing. An inbound marketing agency assisting businesses, from start-ups to high-growth firms, to phenomenally tell their unique story in a noisy digital world. Our services include inbound marketing, Wordpress web design and development, SEO, and social media.

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