A Simple Guide to Mobile Optimisation
You may have come across the term mobile optimisation a lot recently, but what is it and why is it important for you as a small business?
It’s fairly simple really. Mobile optimisation is the process of coding a website so that when users access it via a smartphone or tablet, they can still enjoy the same usability they would when browsing on a desktop. This chiefly involves tweaking the content to fit better on a smaller, narrower screen. For example, making sure users can read the format without having to zoom in where links are placed too close to each other or where the content is wider than the screen.
If you want to stay relevant and boost your sales, then mobile optimisation is crucial in providing users with easier access through their various devices. If you choose to ignore optimisation then you could create a bad user experience for your customers especially when mobile browsing is on the rise. According to Mobile Ready, 57% of mobile users would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site and 40% of worldwide mobile users have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience. Mobile optimisation is also becoming increasingly important for SEO (search engine optimisation) because a good browsing experience is a vital indicator of the quality of your website and therefore has an impact on where you rank in Google search results.
So how can you go about optimising your website for mobile users? The process can in fact be relatively simple and mostly involves using common sense to make your content work on different sized screens and different types of device.
The first thing to consider is whether you will use a dynamic or responsive design. Although both have their pros and cons, a responsive design arguably offers a better user experience since this servesthe same content to mobile and desktop users, using a flexible design to automatically adapt to the size of their screen. In contrast, a dynamic web design detects the device the visitor is using and redirects them to either the desktop site or a specifically designed mobile site.
Once you have chosen your design, you will need to think about how the content will work. Since mobile devices are generally smaller and narrower than a desktop computer, it can be difficult to scroll through pages with lots of information scattered across the screen. Customers can get impatient on websites that are not intuitively designed for mobile devices and could leave if it becomes too difficult to find what they’re looking for. You should therefore aim to keep the content of each page very focused.
Images and text should be clear and streamlined. A minimalist approach could improve the user’s experience since it will look uncluttered and be easier to navigate through. However, it is important to remember that customers will not want a stripped down set of content. They want quick and easy access to the resources they need on whatever device they’re using. So when deciding on your content, bear in mind what the end user wants and design your content to be focused but not limited.
To visually attract users and help them enjoy the experience of browsing through your website, use large, easy-to-read text. This not only ensures that users can see the information clearly, but also makes links easier to locate and click. Images should be sized carefully so that the user doesn’t find that they’re getting in the way of the information they’re looking for. You could also consider including mobile-friendly calls-to-action to help increase the conversion rate of your business. For example, allowing them to click a phone number to automatically call.
You should also think about how users will input information into your site, for example, when using an inquiry form or placing an order. If a customer has to type a lot of information in then this could be a little difficult considering that mobile keyboards are much smaller. Using drop down menus or buttons for data entry can help to make your site more user friendly as this reduces the amount of text that a user has to type.
Finally, you will need to be careful about the formats you use. For example, Apple does not support Flash animations. Using Flash on your website can lead to poor accessibility and poor usability. For example if you click on something inside the Flash animation, you can’t click the back button to return to the previous page, which often leaves users frustrated. Although some devices do accept Flash, iPhones still account for a large number of mobile users and as such, you will be alienating a lot of your mobile audience.
Hopefully, this article has demystified the process of mobile optimisation a little. However, for more in-depth information about making your site accessible for mobile users, Google Developers offers plenty of advice and resources. Their mobile-friendly test is a particularly useful tool as it analyses your site and offers recommendations on how you can improve.