Is your website optimised for mobile use? The answer should be yes. Here’s why…
In recent years, the increase in use of smartphones and tablets has been remarkable and relentless in equal measure. The twin engines of 4G and WiFi have powered a revolution in our online browsing habits, and the number of people accessing the internet on mobile devices in 2014 finally overtook the number using desktops and laptops. So what does all this mean for your business?
For the last decade, every year has been the ‘year of the mobile’, but recently the companies which are neglecting the medium are becoming apparent. The ones who have actually identified the mobile consumer as an untapped stream have developed sites, which can typically be identified by the letter ‘m’ after the http:// address prefix. These streamlined subsidiaries often drop non-essential content and design elements to provide a bandwidth-friendly summary of core pages. More critical readers might conclude that the main sites must have unnecessary content if it can be so readily jettisoned, although users are more likely to complain about the absence of this content. There’s often no alternative to view a main site on a portable device if the browser is programmed to automatically defer to the mobile variant.
What does all this mean for anyone constructing a new website? In essence, choosing a design and sitemap that works on small screens is now just as important as appearance and functionality on desktop devices. Pared-down mobile websites should ideally be avoided, in favour of a one-size-fits-all approach that works equally well on any device. This in turn requires imaginative design, and an appreciation of how users interact while browsing from their mobile versus desktop internet activity.
Attention spans are notoriously short nowadays, and that’s particularly true for mobile browsing. A universally-accessiblewebsite needs to avoid unnecessary trinketry like auto-playing media content, for example. Menus should be prominently positioned at the top of each page, facilitating swift navigation to key sub-pages. Any data-heavy content should be placed on clearly-defined sub-pages – someone browsing a clothing website at the bus stop will know not to visit a page called “Product Videos” unless they have a generous monthly data allowance and a fast connection. While 4G has hugely improved download speeds, coverage remains patchy across the UK, and millions of people are still using 3G devices.
Responsive website designs can make a single website template look equally impressive on differently-sized screens. It’s been reported that 30 per cent of mobile usage worldwide is displayed in Google’s Chrome browser, which also leads the combined mobile-and-desktop markets. Chrome is therefore the ideal platform for testing sites that automatically resize according to screen resolution, using fluid grids and images that scale with the layout.
It is necessary to pare down written content to the absolute minimum; large volumes of text will be illegibly small on a 4” smartphone screen.
Another crucial element underpinning any mobile-friendly website is the avoidance of incompatible content or proprietary software. For instance, Apple devices won’t display Adobe Flash content without specialist plugins. This will become less of an issue now that HTML5 is with us, since one of its key advances is superior efficiency on mobile devices compared to previous HTML versions. Functionalities like embedded videos and rollover transitions should now display equally well on any internet-enabled device.
Finally, e-commerce on mobile devices is growing much faster than among desktop users, with new developments like Apple Pay helping facilitate the process further. That means checkout functionality must be universally present, while security also needs to be kept as a priority as hackers increasingly target vulnerabilities in mobile browsers and payment software.
In April 2015, Google made the move to favour sites which are optimised for mobile use in their search engine rankings. While there are many ways to impress the search engines and get your site to a good position, having a mobile friendly website is an easy way to tick one of the (albeit many) boxes with Google. For those who don’t know just how mobile friendly their website is, Google have provided this Mobile-Friendly Test for you to check.
Our all new and improved Website Builder has a built in responsive editor, which ensures your site looks just as great when accessed from mobile, desktop and tablet devices. Get started today by clicking here.