People all over the world are spending an increasing amount of time on their smartphones and other mobile devices. Based on current trends, experts predict that by 2014, mobile internet usage will take over desktop internet usage, with almost 2 billion mobile internet users expected by 2015.
But what does this change in internet usage mean for the average website owner? Well, according to Google, 75% of consumers prefer a mobile friendly site. If your site can’t be viewed easily on a smartphone, is too complicated, or takes too long to load, then your customers are going to look elsewhere.
It stands to reason then, that for a fighting chance against your competitors, your website must be mobile friendly.
So how do you go about making it so? Follow these five tips and help your website look and feel as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop.
1. Use Responsive Design
When a website is responsive it means its layout and content automatically adjust to suit the device it’s being viewed with, whether desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile.
This makes it easier to view, with less scrolling needed to navigate the site effectively.
Responsive web design does this by using a cascading style sheet which tells it how to present HTML. Use responsive images as well to ensure the best display across multiple devices.
As well as improving readability, using responsive web design is good for SEO purposes. Having a responsive site does away with the problem of having duplicate content from both a desktop and mobile site, and it allows your mobile site to benefit from your original site’s backlinks, which improves search rankings. Google even goes as far as recommending it.
2. Make Sure Your Pages Load Quickly
Loading time is a contributing factor in page abandonment. Kissmetrics’ infographic shows that 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of users will leave the page entirely.
Speed matters, so use a site speed tester to find out the kind of experience that your customers are having of your website, and how it compares to your competitors’.
If your site is performing badly, then it’s important to optimize it for faster loading times, to make it easily loadable by even the slowest networks.
3. Avoid Using Flash Video and Large Files
Flash videos can’t be viewed on lots of mobile devices (particularly iPads), so it’s advisable not to use them on a site striving to be mobile friendly.
If you must include videos on your website (and there are plenty of arguments for their inclusion) then HTML5 is a far better option to ensure that they are compatible with mobile browsers.
Unnecessarily large files (such as images) should be also avoided at all costs. Data conscious users will not appreciate having to download huge chunks of unnecessary data, so optimize your images by editing them for size using image manipulation software and save them using the correct (and most appropriate) file formats.
4. Use Clear Content
Your website’s content should be clear, to the point, focused, and easy to scan. On mobile devices, every pixel counts, so only include things that you know are relevant to your users.
From font choice and text size to spacing and layout, visualize your written content on a small screen to ensure that you’re not alienating users with fussy, hard-to-read text.
Include subheadings, numbered points, and bullets where necessary so that your users are able to quickly find the information they need, in order for them to complete whatever call to action you require of them.
5. Ensure Easy Navigation
Usability is everything when it comes to mobile web design, and navigation is often approached completely differently when using a mobile device, with touch screens becoming increasingly common.
For this reason, ensure that buttons are large enough to accommodate the average finger tip and do not place links too close together – they need to be able to be tapped, rather than clicked, accurately.
Text entry is another issue when it comes to using mobile devices as many of them don’t have access to standard keyboards. Utilize drop down menus and checklists to reduce the amount of awkward typing necessary, and your users will thank you for it.
Remember, a website these days isn’t something that’s just viewed on a computer screen. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, then you’re probably turning people away. And who can afford to do that?