Gone Mobile: Make Sure The Shoe Fits
Nowadays we just can’t get away from the screen. In the course of any day, most of us spend hours with our eyes glued to one device or another. Whether we need to map a route, send an email or find information, we reach for the nearest device and get online.
While we may be accustomed — or resigned to — scrolling and pinching to magnify tiny text on a mobile device, it’s not an ideal user experience. A mobile friendly website presents the information in a format that is appropriate for a smaller screen.
Mobile friendliness can be achieved in various ways: through a mobile site, a mobile app or a responsive website.
A few years back, many larger companies built separate mobile sites that offered edited functionality and a simpler user experience designed for a smaller screen. In some cases, the mobile site branding was consistent; often it was not, diluting the brand experience. Moreover, the practice of building — and more importantly, maintaining — a duplicate mobile site was costly, and it didn’t address the evolution of the mobile landscape and the proliferation of device types.
Mobile responsive websites: The shoe always fits
In the last couple of years, there’s been a migration to mobile responsive websites. A responsive website adapts the website layout to present the information in a format appropriate for the device. The net result is that the user experience provided differs slightly on a phone, tablet or desktop.
Recognizing the significant shift toward use of mobile devices, search engines are also shifting — modifying their search algorithms to reward sites that optimize the user experience on mobile devices. Google now ranks mobile-friendly pages higher in the mobile search results and Bing is even labeling results in search as “mobile friendly.” Google will actually penalize web pages that aren’t mobile-friendly, pushing them down in the mobile search results. (Bing hasn’t taken this approach – yet.)
If you think this search algorithm change isn’t a big deal, consider that more Google searches now take place on mobile devices than desktop computers (source: Techcrunch). Look at your own website analytics. What percentage of your website traffic is coming from mobile devices? (Find it within the Audience menu, under Devices.) If you compare with a prior period, you may be surprised to see an increase in website traffic from tablets and mobile phones.
The perfect fit: What makes a website mobile-friendly?
Like a well-fitting shoe, the intent behind mobile friendly websites is to improve the customer experience. A mobile-responsive design is adapted for the device being used, and includes:
- Touch-based navigation: Menus, buttons, and links which enable a user to select their desired action easily
- Readable text: Website verbiage sized to be viewable without the need to scroll or zoom
- Optimized page width: Narrower pages which eliminate the need for horizontal scrolling
If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly, you can find out with Google’s mobile-friendly test. Whether or not your current website is mobile-friendly, there are many ways to improve your search engine rankings. See our other blog posts related to search engine optimization, or contact us.