You may have heard the term “Mobile Friendly” being mentioned rather a lot recently and perhaps heard some horror stories about it. This article will explain exactly what it means for your website to be considered mobile friendly, what the implications are if its not, and how to proceed if your site is not yet compliant.
What Does Mobile Friendly Mean?
When the world wide web first began in the 90’s, we only viewed web pages on a desktop computer with a standard monitor so pages were designed to fit into that sized screen. In recent years, the use of tablets and smartphones has now overtaken the desktop PC and as of late 2015, more than half of Internet searches are now performed on mobile devices.
The problem is that for older websites that were designed with desktop monitors in mind, trying to view the website on the tiny screen on your phone is a horrible experience. By default, mobile browsers will just try to squash the entire page onto the mobile display. Images may be cut off, some elements simply won’t display and of course you will not be able to read the text without a lot of zooming, and that makes you lose context within the page.
So, Google put in place a set of guidelines that web developers should adhere to, which ensures that when the website is viewed on a mobile device, it will be displayed in a way that makes it easy to view and interact with on a small mobile device.
A non-optimised site tries to squeeze the whole page onto the screen (left)
Is My Website Mobile Friendly?
The first thing you should do is to just go run the Google mobile friendly test on your site. This will analyse your website and tell you whether or not is passes the test. If it doesn’t, it will tell you why not.
If your site fails the test, Google will tell you why (top)
My Site Fails The Test, Does It Matter?
Until recently, many businesses could get away with not having a mobile-optimised website because they still got plenty of visitors from Google and seemed to do just fine. For many, optimising their website for mobile site was something low down on the priority list.
The problem now is two fold:
Firstly, in May 2016, Google announced that they would be favouring mobile friendly websites in their mobile search results. What does that mean? Well if you own a restaurant and your website for it isn’t mobile friendly, if somebody in your local area using their phone to search for restaurants in their local area, your website isn’t going to show up on the first page.
Many businesses, especially those that operate specifically within a local area, rely on website traffic that comes from people searching for the business services on their mobile device. If the website fails the test, Google will rank it much lower in the search results, even if it is a relevant site.
The reasoning behind this move is that Google wants to deliver the best user experience for users of its search engine. How frustrating is it when you are on your phone looking for something but the site just looks horrible on your phone? It’s annoying and that’s exactly what Google wants to avoid.
And that leads me to the second problem. Nowadays, because so many more websites are being built with mobile in mind, people are starting to expect it. So when they are searching for something on their phone or their tablet, if they come across a site that doesn’t load properly or has text which is too small to read, they are just going to tap on that back button and go to a competitor’s website.
How Do I Make My Site Mobile Friendly?
There are a number of ways in which this can be done. If your site is built on the WordPress platform, it can be as easy as changing the theme that the site uses. Look for a WordPress theme marked as ‘Responsive’. This means that the site has been configured to display differently on each size of device that it is viewed on so that the use is always given a version that looks good and is easy to use.
Responsive web design will ensure your site looks good on any sized device
If you do not use WordPress or you do not wish to change your existing theme, you can also have a separate mobile site custom built which will sit along-side your regular website. If a user finds your site on a mobile device they will be delivered your mobile version, otherwise they see your regular version.
Luckily this is actually much easier than it sounds. We can build mobile friendly sites from as little as £99 for a small website and that will update itself as you modify your main website. Please contact us for a free demo of what your mobile friendly website could look like.
Here is an example of a mobile friendly fix that we did recently: