How Do I Optimize my Website for Mobile?
In case you didn’t know the impact of mobile traffic on the web, it accounted for more than half of all internet traffic in 2015 and has likely grown today. More people visit websites on smartphones and tablets than all the desktops and laptops in the world. And while desktop visitors do spend more time reading long content on the larger screen, quick nuggets of information (like social media, for example) are completely dominated by mobile traffic.
If you’re putting all your optimization efforts into the desktop visitor, you’re at least five years behind the times. But it’s not too late—you can easily turn around your website and optimize it for the mobile platform. That means more visits and better rankings in Google searches.
The success of your website just can’t happen without a responsive web design. Without it, the most stunning desktop sites will look absolutely ridiculous on smartphones and tablets, which means 50 percent of your potential visitor base won’t bother with your site. Responsive templates are optimized to offer custom looks on all three platforms—desktop, tablet, and smartphone—and will adjust to each of them without the user having to select a setup. This should be the absolute first checkbox on your list of mobile optimization.
Stick to the Basics
Most people don’t read full articles and stories on mobile but stick to small tidbits of information. This is why social media is so successful on smartphones and tablets (easily the most used apps and websites)—tweets, posts, and pictures are quick and easy to consume as the user scrolls through a touchscreen. Keep this simplicity in mind when creating content for the mobile user and choosing the look and feel of how that content will be displayed.
Make text easy to read, use large, clean images, and keep your layout organized and straightforward. These three steps go a long way as content competes for real estate on a small screen.
Start With the Essentials
Mobile traffic accounts for more than half of all visits to websites, but visitors don’t stay on the pages very long. For the most part, they drop by a site for quick information or easy-to-read content, so put your most important information right up front for them to find.
Restaurants are the easiest example of this. Visitors don’t visit a restaurant website to learn more about rib eye steaks and fancy desserts—they want the essential info: hours of operation, location, menu, and specials. All four of these items should be the first thing they see on the front page, without any distractions to force visitors elsewhere. Any business can do this as long as it knows what visitors want up front when they visit the site.
Make eCommerce Easy
Buying products on a desktop computer can be easier than mobile, but that doesn’t make buying on mobile impossible. If eCommerce is your business, make it as painless as possible for mobile visitors. The best responsive design templates and eCommerce hosts already have this covered, so make sure to get all the mobile details before you decide which is best for that platform.
Keep Code Clean
Have you ever visited a poorly coded website (or one with a cheap template) on your desktop? It’s a frustrating experience, isn’t it? Now imagine what the same website is like on a 5-inch smartphone screen—disaster.
Clean code and metadata is everything for the mobile experience. This is a short list of areas you should never let get messy when building your website:
- Does your website function properly in both portrait and landscape view? Move visitors will see your website in portrait (when they’re smartphone is turned upright).
- Are your header tags consistent? Use the same tags (<H1>, <H2>, etc.) for all your headers and subheaders throughout your site.
- Is your metadata consistent? Make sure you label all content such as pictures, videos, and other graphics consistently for better optimization. This might not affect what the user sees, but it could have an impact on how Google ranks your site.
The Look and Feel
In front of all the nuts and bolts of mobile optimization is the look and feel of your website. Even after you’ve made all the right changes, everything comes down to the experience with the website. Grab your smartphone and thumb through a test run—does it flow, is everything organized and fresh, is the content is to consume? If the answer is no to any of these, go back to the drawing board to iron out the fine details.