Is your site optimized for mobile devices? The world has rapidly shifted from favoring websites and online experiences on desktop devices to largely preferring mobile engagements; roughly 57 percent of all internet traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. If you aren’t focusing on appealing to that audience, you could be missing out on 57 percent of your potential conversion opportunities.
But to someone unfamiliar with web development, or with mobile traffic in general, mobile optimization may seem mysterious and difficult. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier than you might think; though there are potentially hundreds of changes that would make a site better suited for mobile devices, I can ultimately reduce them to seven important factors.
Why Mobile Optimization?
The 57 percent of traffic heading to your site from mobile devices should be reason enough to make you want to optimize your site for mobile devices, but that isn’t the only motivating factor. Google considers your level of mobile optimization on both desktop and mobile devices, and soon, it may switch to a mobile-first index; in other words, Google will prioritize crawling mobile sites over desktop sites.
That doesn’t mean it will exclude desktop sites altogether, but they are becoming decreasingly important as time passes.
So which factors are most important for successful mobile optimization?
1. Image and video availability. First, you need to make sure all your image and video content is visible on mobile devices. If your video player isn’t responsive, it may load at full size when accessed by a mobile user; in that case, the video will be too large for them to view. Similarly, if your site uses old coding methods or incompatible files, your images and videos may not load at all on mobile devices. This is a fairly easy factor to check; just load your site on a mobile device and see if all your visual content is present.
2. Visible text. Your site should also have all its text readable immediately, without requiring users to zoom or scroll to read it. Responsive sites do this automatically; they detect what type of device is accessing the content, and scale the size of the page (and the content within it) to fit perfectly. No mobile user wants to spend the extra time zooming and horizontally scrolling to read what should have been visible immediately.
3. Clickability and interactivity. You’ll also need to consider the “clickability” and interactivity of your site. On traditional desktop sites, interactive buttons can be small, since users rely on a mouse to click them. But on mobile devices, these buttons need to be larger and easier to click with a clumsy finger. Similarly, dropdown menus are harder to work on a mobile device; you’ll need to customize your layout so it’s easy for users to scroll through the options and select one. If your site has any other interactive features, you’ll need to update them to be workable with finger-based touches as well.
4. Loading speed. Page loading speed is important not just to your users’ experience, but also to your search rankings, and on mobile devices, speed is even more important. Mobile devices typically have slower loading capabilities than their desktop counterparts, so even a fraction of a second of delay on a traditional device could be magnified to a multi-second delay on mobile; and as you may know, a delay of even a few seconds is usually enough to make a user abandon their efforts. You can improve your loading times by reducing the amount of content on your pages, shrinking your images, using a reliable caching plugin, or even adopting accelerated mobile page (AMP) protocols.
5. Compatibilities. The type of coding and formatting you use is also important to consider. For example, Flash-based video and audio won’t play on the majority of modern mobile devices. If you’re using up-to-date standards, you probably won’t have to worry, since most modern frameworks are designed with mobile as a top priority.
6. Pop-up minimization. Pop-up ads are annoying even in a desktop environment, but on mobile, they can ruin an otherwise decent user experience. Keep your pop-ups to an absolute minimum, and if you must include them, make sure they’re designed in a way that allows them to load fast and be removed with a single click.
7. User intuition. Google offers a useful mobile-friendly test, so you can evaluate whether your site is technically “mobile friendly” by its standards, but this is somewhat misleading. Your site will pass the test so long as it’s able to be displayed properly and retains its core functionality, but that doesn’t mean your mobile version is appealing or intuitive for users. If you want your site to be as effective as possible for mobile users, you’ll need to spend some time reviewing its layout and design, adjusting it so users feel more comfortable when engaging with it on mobile. These are qualitative factors, so they aren’t as easily detectable.
You can tackle most of these changes in one fell swoop by adopting a responsive design for your site. There are other options to make your site mobile-optimized, including establishing a separate site specifically for mobile, but they involve a little more work and technical knowledge.
As long as you can hit most or all of the points above, you’ll be in good shape with your mobile users.
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