by Joshua Hobson
The web behaviour of users in 2014 is evolving and becoming more tech-savvy, especially when it comes to visiting sites on their mobile devices. Not having a mobile-friendly site is slowly becoming harmful. Over 40% of mobile users have said they would click on another search result if a site wasn’t mobile-friendly. Yet many companies are still blind to the advantages and disadvantages of mobile optimisation – or, just as common, they do not know how to test their site to see if it is mobile-friendly.
Not having a mobile-friendly site can be harmful
First of all, having a site that is not mobile-friendly can be pretty detrimental to your brand. If a user visits your site on their mobile and it’s hard to navigate or they have to scroll and pinch, then it can unfortunately make your company look unhelpful. This could be a user’s first (and last!) impression of your business so a clunky and unresponsive site can really harm your online reputation and potential conversions.
Luckily, it’s not hard to identify mobile-friendly features and to test if your website is mobile friendly.
If your website is mobile-friendly you should be able to just scroll down the page and read everything easily. When visiting on a mobile, if your site has any cut-off text or partially-visible images, then it is not mobile-friendly. You should be able to read all of the information on the screen easily without having to scroll left or right to read long periods of text. It should all be in one column.
Another feature of a site that is not mobile-friendly is if it simply zooms out so far that a user can see all of the page at once. The problem with this? The text is way too hard to read because it’s just so tiny! Users have to then take the time to zoom in and scroll around to find the useful information. This extra effort could encourage users to leave and find another company, whose site is easier to navigate.
How can you check?
Use your mobile …
Using your mobile to test is obviously the first and most direct way to check if your site is mobile-friendly. You can get a good glimpse of what users are potentially seeing.
However, there are dozens of different mobile phones from the popular iPhones, Samsung phones and Blackberry ranges, and then there are tablets and netbooks - and they all have differently-sized screens.
So if you have an iPhone and your website looks user-friendly to you, it might look different for a user who is visiting on a tablet or a Blackberry.
Adjust your browser window …
Now you may not have access to a range of smart phones, so adjusting your browser window is the second quickest and easiest way to get an idea of how your site looks on mobile. Visit your site as you would usually but on your desktop or laptop. Then take the window and click the ‘restore down’ button in the top right hand corner. You can adjust the width and length of the window and if your site is mobile friendly it should adjust and respond to the changing window without sacrificing any information - hence the term ‘responsive design’.
However, there is a problem with using this method of checking because some developers don’t use responsive design and opt in for a different approach. Responsive design is becoming increasingly popular (and is recommended by Google) so if you were to optimise your site for mobile, we highly recommend this approach. All of our websites use this technology. But instead, some developers craft separate mobile sites for their brand that can only be viewed if you are visiting on a mobile device. This is quickly becoming the old-fashioned approach because responsive design is the easiest and most efficient way to make your site mobile-friendly given the wide variety of screens that potential customers may now use to view your site.
Some other tools
There are plenty of resources out there online that can mimic the appearance of mobile devices but they do not show with 100% accuracy what your users will see. Sites like placeit.net and mobiletest.me can be useful but only if you use them to get a general idea.
Having a mobile-friendly site has plenty of advantages
When developing your website, always keep in mind the user experience. You should always be thinking of better ways to improve the user’s overall satisfaction when they are using your website. Having your website optimised for mobile makes it so much easier for users to access your services which overall improves their opinion of you and therefore improves your reputation. Which, of course, should improve your sales and conversions. Research suggests that another potential benefit of responsive design is improving your SEO. Google publically recommends this approach and so it’s likely they will favour your site for search rankings - which will also increase the chances of you raising awareness of your brand.
Mobile-friendly sites have been around for a while now and they’re fast becoming the norm. 34% of mobile internet users say that that their phone is their main device for browsing online, so it can be really valuable for your company if you take advantage of this.
And the best thing is that tonnes of companies still do not have websites that are optimised for mobile devices. So, at the moment, it could really set you apart from some of your competitors. If a user leaves a competitor’s site because it’s not mobile-friendly and then clicks on your mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to stay!
We ensure that all of the websites we build are responsive for all of these reasons. If you want to meet with us to discuss your website, then please feel free to contact us and we will be in touch as soon as possible.