Given the increasing amount of Internet users accessing websites on their smartphones and tablets, it is critical in today’s age that your website is mobile-friendly. Google has even hinted at rewarding websites that are optimized for mobile devices in search results. Much of the speculation is that the search engine will release an algorithm in 2015 that rewards (or penalizes) websites based on how user-friendly they are on mobile. There is additional speculation that Google will even denote a website mobile-friendly in search results, making it easier for users to decide.
There are two routes that web designers can go down when optimizing websites for mobile: responsive design and mobile sites. The former shrinks down the normal version of a website to fit the screen dimensions of a mobile device. Web designers may even eliminate certain components of the website that are deemed unnecessary for mobile users.
Mobile sites are different from responsive design websites in that they are an entirely different website, optimized for mobile. Very often, mobile websites carry the domain m.website.com or mobile.website.com. While both options have their pros and cons, web designers in 2015 should seriously consider using one that best suits the needs of the business or organization.
After deciding whether it is best to choose a responsive design or create a mobile site, the next step that web designers should take is to consider how they want to structure the mobile version of their website. As mentioned, certain components of the site may not be necessary, while other components may be wise to keep on mobile.
The most important factor to keep in mind when optimizing for mobile is user-friendliness. Since users are accessing the website on a device that has limited web browsing capability, as well as a smaller screen than a desktop computer, web designers should be sure to keep their mobile website as easy to navigate as possible. Particular attention should be paid to the way in which the navigation menu is laid out. While you want to include your homepage, about us, and contact us pages in the mobile menu, do you really need to include all of the other menu items typically present on your site?
Another factor to consider is how your mobile site features call-to-actions. Obviously, since mobile devices include smartphones, one item worth keeping might be the phone number. Also ensure it is clickable, and consider installing conversion tracking on it while you’re at it. Similarly, a condensed version of the contact form may also be a good choice for mobile websites.
Along the same lines, it might be good to include other contact information such as the business e-mail address, or physical address if you’re a local business. Web designers may also want to consider a directions button that opens up the default maps application on the smartphone.
Mobile websites should also be clutter-free. This means reducing the amount of text and also making it as easy to read as possible. Web designers might also want to consider creating a mobile-friendly version of the business’ logo.
All in all, the key to designing mobile-friendly websites is to make them as easy to navigate as possible, while keeping the amount of steps required to complete a conversion (whether it be clicking a phone number, filling out a contact form, or making a purchase) to a minimum.