Tips to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Posted by Joshua Ditton

Jan 12

Tips to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Mobile internet usage is on the rise.  Smartphone users are no longer an exception.  Roughly 1.2 billion people use mobile devices to access the web and roughly 80% of all internet users own a smartphone and over half of all internet traffic is from mobile devices.  All indications are that internet consumption on mobile devices will only increase.  Additionally, Google penalizes websites that fail to meet their mobile-friendliness standards in its search engines results page (SERP).  As the popularity of using mobile devices to connect to the internet rises so does the necessity for websites to be mobile-friendly.  This blog post will address some tips and considerations for mobile-friendly design.

Want to see how mobile-friendly your website is? Try Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

1. Curate the Content

Mobile users accessing a website are typically looking for specific information – store hours, a map, contact information, etc.  They most likely don’t want to scroll through lengthy staff bios or read about the history of the company.  Be smart in selecting the subset of your website’s content that you will present to mobile users.  Only give what is necessary to convey your message.  At the same time, you may consider adding a link to view the desktop version of the website – some users will prefer this despite the sizing issues.

2. Watch Page Speed

Mobile devices are more limited than desktop computers and laptops in terms of hardware specifications.  Though the gap is closing, keeping an eye on page load times is imperative.  The issue is compounded when considering cellular data networks aren’t as reliable as your typical in-home internet service provider (ISP).

Be sure to watch page count and page redirects.  Too many pages and redirects can increase the load time and the likelihood a user abandons your website.

Images can also strain the load time of your page.  How do you have both crystal-clear images that load fast?  There are tools available such as TinyJPG or TinyPNG which implement lossless compression to help your images load faster.  They do this by stripping out unnecessary colors and cutting down on image metadata.  Instead of falling back on images, look at CSS3 to accomplish complex effects that you might have been tempted to use graphics for.

Aim for a page load time of three seconds or less.  Load time is a ranking signal for Google and if you have pages that take excessive amounts of time to load you may be compromising your rank on the SERP. 

3. Don’t Use Flash

Apple doesn’t support flash on the iPhone and has not indicated supporting it in the future.  While Flash can be used to create rich content, Apple controls a sizeable share of the smartphone market and using flash runs the risk of alienating that part of the market.  Stunning content can be developed using HTML5 instead.  Mobile users are 3 times more likely to view video content than desktop or laptop and HTML5 combined with a lightweight video player will ensure the video is playable on most devices and doesn’t bog down the website. 

4. Use Whitespace

While it may be tempting to cram as much information in as small a space as possible given the small mobile screen, this should be avoided.  Whitespace makes pages look clean and modern.  In addition to being visually appealing, using generous amounts of whitespace will make it easier for mobile users who are touching their screen to click links, buttons, etc.

5. Use Mobile-Friendly Forms

Request the minimum amount of information you need from users.  Those on a mobile device aren’t going to be too keen on filling out 13 text boxes with information.  Leverage mobile technology when available. For example, GPS is usually available on mobile devices. You can prepopulate the user’s location (city, state, zip) instead of requesting they fill it out themselves.

6. Use Touch-Friendly Design

A mobile user doesn’t have the luxury of a precision mouse click and so you will need to consider fingers of all different shapes and sizes.  Your mobile-friendly website shouldn’t require any pinching or zooming.  Inaccurate clicks are also a problem with mobile websites.  Allow your user at least 45 pixels of width to ensure clickability.

By now all companies should have an online presence to highlight their goods and services, but in the near future they should have mobile-friendly websites as well.  A mobile-friendly website is one more opportunity to “wow” a lead by taking the above tips into account to create a seamless, pleasant experience to mobile users.

Topics: website design

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