Checklist for Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users
:: By Pete Peranzo, Imaginovation ::
Mobile is now the norm.
The number of people relying on their mobile devices to get them through the day -- check email, browse the Internet, chat with friends, update social media and shop – has skyrocketed over the past few years. It is expected that by 2017, 63.4 percent of users worldwide will access content via their mobile devices instead of laptops.
Websites that aren’t adequately optimized for the mobile experience risk being left behind. Designing for mobile, however, presents a whole different kind of challenge. You want to deliver the best possible user experience via your mobile site while keeping intact the most important features of your website. It’s a delicate balance to strike and the greater the content, the greater the challenge.
Businesses can choose to create responsive sites or standalone websites for mobile experience. Regardless of choice, the following checklist will help your company optimize a website for mobile users.
Fast load time
A website should load fast on desktop as well as mobile, but even more so on mobile given the limitations of the hardware supporting such devices. Not everyone uses devices with fast processors and rarely do people have the patience to wait for a site that takes forever to load. They might as well just check out your competitor – and they do.
A website that looks great on desktop may not be eye-pleasing on a mobile device in a similar fashion.
You have greater screen space to make use of with desktop, so you can afford to introduce a number of menus, loads of quotations, heavy homepages and a ton of content, with special effects that pop out throughout the users’ journey on the site.
All of this, however, will have to be handled carefully when optimizing the site for mobile. Too many drop-down menus are a no-no as is a lot of content in one place.
A website should look uncluttered and minimalistic on mobile. This might mean you are not able to include all the features from the desktop version. It’s a tough call to make, but it’s necessary to deliver a smooth and lean mobile user experience.
No pop-ups or flash
Pop-ups are intrusive and annoying. They are also difficult to close on small screens. Similarly, not all mobile devices are able to support Flash. If you include features that are not universally supported or well-received on mobile, it will just lead to users abandoning the site.
Form is important, but not at the cost of function. The most important and relevant information should be easy to find. Also, the structure of the mobile-optimized website should not sacrifice the usefulness of its content.
If a user has to think or tinker around a lot in order to get to the important bits, you haven’t done a good enough job of optimizing the website for mobile.
A clean and intuitive layout aids users in navigating through a website smoothly, but calls-to-action (CTAs) should be easy to spot and click on. These could be blog subscription buttons, shopping cart icons or buttons representing any action that you want users to take. You would have to structure the website so that they are eased along the process. The goal of a mobile-friendly website is also to drive conversion.
Tackles the ‘fat finger’ problem
Browsing the Web on mobile leads to a lot of accidental clicks. Apart from being annoying for the user, these also lead to skewed metrics for businesses.
The ergonomics of your mobile/responsive site should be such that they minimize the occurrence of users clicking on buttons and/or banner ads they had no intention of accessing. Instead of the little ‘X’ in the corner, ads should display broad tabs that are easier to click on for the desired action. Scrolling should be smooth, and menu tabs should be spaced apart well enough not to lead to clicking on the wrong ones.
Optimized for SEO
Since mobile devices are increasingly being relied upon for Internet searching and carrying out all kinds of tasks, it becomes equally important for them to be optimized for SEO, too, just as the desktop version. Pay as much attention to optimizing it for local SEO as you would to your main website.
It’s a combination of functionality and user experience
A mobile website requires a precise design. It should be intuitively laid out to facilitate an easy and memorable user experience.
For new business owners, or those on a tight budget who cannot afford to hire Web agencies to design for them, there are a number of responsive WordPress themes that lend themselves beautifully to mobile devices. A little bit of DIY and customization will help you take advantage of all of the features.
Pete Peranzo is the CEO of Imaginovation, a full-service, turn-key digital solutions company serving Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC. He is a results driven individual with over 15 years in the IT and software industry. Pete’s background in customer support is a driving factor in the company’s long-term success and reputation. He has embedded customer service into the company's core culture, and feels that fast turnaround, great communication and high-quality support are keys to lasting business relationships. Follow him on Twitter @PetePeranzo.