As we are becoming more and more connected to our mobile devices, it’s only natural for businesses to try to reach customers via smartphones and tablets. However, this is easier said than done, as some mobile websites can drive customers crazy by crashing, not giving them what they need, and otherwise just not being optimized for a smaller touchscreen.
We’ve all been there before, when we click or tap on a company website only to find atrocious loading times, it’s impossible to navigate, or it’s just plain unattractive — so we close out of the website and search for the next business to provide the same service. As a web developer or designer, your company website is almost a direct reflection of you and your work. It has become a necessity to optimize your company website for the mobile age. But how do you get started?
Below is a comprehensive guide, explaining mobile optimization, its importance, and how to optimize your content to bring and keep traffic of a customer base that it too large to miss to your website.
What is Mobile Optimization?
By now, it should be known that your business website will, and should, look different on a desktop screen as opposed to a mobile tablet, phone, etc. Moreover, if it is only optimized for desktop, it will look bad enough to turn a potential customer away from your business. As missing out on a sale is one of the last things you’d want to do in business, it is necessary for you and your business to optimize your website for mobile consumption. If this seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry, there are many free tools and apps to help you with mobile optimization.
Since mobile devices have gotten extremely popular and are part of our everyday lives, web developers are finding that they can’t just simply apply the same website they have for their desktop users to their mobile users. They are also finding that if they do this, the unpleasantries of the design and look will turn customers away to another website— perhaps a competitor’s — to make a sale.
Mobile optimization refers to the above acknowledgement, and changing features for your website to be as usable and accessible to your customers. This usability and accessibility include the aesthetics of your website as well. Navigation and operations of your business website on a desktop are far different from doing so on a smartphone or tablet screen. For starters, you usually use a mouse for your computer, while you scroll with your fingers on mobile devices. This alone presents problems, however if we dive deeper, we can see more problems arise.
Why Mobile Optimization?
First and foremost, optimizing for mobile is for user experience. You want to make it as easy as possible for a customer to make a transaction. If there are any hitches, or the site just doesn’t look right, you are jeopardising your customer base. A mobile site should be easy to navigate and provide the potential customer with everything they need.
Web developers and designers know the importance of search engine optimization(SEO) which is the idea of driving the most traffic to your website for the maximum amount of visitors through search engine results. In other words, you want to rank higher on a search engine results page to bring in potential customers to your website. This is a significant aspect of any business strategy campaign, and it is now being applied to mobile searches.
Search engines, specifically Google, understand that more searches happen today on mobile devices rather than desktop computers. Recognizing this, they want mobile searches to be just as helpful to more people searching on their smartphones and tablets. It goes to say that Google will not look kindly upon your poorly designed mobile page and will rank it lower down the search engine results pages.
Imagine, as a web designer, the astronomical amount of people searching Google for a business website like yours. Missing out on visibility in the search engine results because you didn’t optimize your business’ website for mobile devices would be costly. You’d be missing out on an enormous opportunity to bring in a large number of potential customers.
Another large reason to optimize for mobile devices is to stay up with the times. No web designer or developer wants to be behind that business with the clunky website — that is, if your website pops up in the search engine results at all. Picture a customer navigating your wonderfully designed webpage from their desktop. Then has to catch the bus, and the only thing he can use there is his smartphone. A quick search would show your business again in the mobile search engine and takes them to your even better mobile page. If you can continually demonstrate your relevance, your company website will survive the test of time.
How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users
Just as mobile apps use A/B testing, you should test your mobile website as well. Find out what you are doing wrong, and what you’re doing right. Wouldn’t you like to know exactly how to create the best user experience for customers using your business website? You can do this by A/B testing, to get user feedback about how you can better optimize your website according to human tendencies. Additionally, you can use free apps to test aspects of your page such as page speed.
Perhaps the biggest deterrent for mobile users is the time it takes for your mobile website to load. Ask yourself how many times have you been searching on your phone, only to find that the website you wanted took that extra second too long to load, so you pressed the back button and went searching elsewhere? Applying this scenario to your website, you can see how important page speed is, and what it can do to your internet traffic and rate of business.
Website crashes or long loading periods can be attributed to not optimizing your coding and images or, more frequently simply using the wrong code. Some smartphones do not support Flash or Java plugins. Coding, along with decreasing redirects to your site, and improving your server response time to accommodate your traffic will help your page speed. What’s more is that there are indications that page speed is a ranking factor for Google — so poor page speed equals a lower ranking on the search engine results page.
Responsive Web Design
Your smartphone or tablet screen is smaller than that of your desktop, so why would you want to view a page on your phone that was meant for the desktop? Optimization of a layout that adjusts to all screens is imperative for two reasons. The first reason is user experience: if your content is too big or small, the user will probably look elsewhere for what they are searching for. Secondly, your content is not being consumed by the user, making your efforts pointless. Understanding the page dimensions and scaling for different screens is important for the response of the touch gestures of today’s touchscreens.
Tracking Your Progress
Okay, you’ve optimized your site to run seamlessly across any device, so you can just sit back and relax, right? If this is your thinking, you’re going to be in serious trouble.
A crucial weapon in your must-have resources has got to be Google Analytics. The business experts at Fiscal Tiger highlight the many benefits of Google Analytics and tracking your website in saying that, “it can tell you how many people are visiting your website, where they live, and how they got to your site. You can track trends and know what information (and pages) on your website are proving most valuable to your customers.” All of these factors are extremely important for the further development of your company website.
Gaining a better grasp on your audience, how many times they visit your website, and keeping track of trends are all guides on how to further optimize your website and its content for a better user experience — which Google will appreciate when determining search engine page results. Knowing that information and those pages on your website which your audience values the most will help you understand if your content is falling flat or proving to be successful. However, to better your chances, follow some mobile friendly content guidelines.
Creating Mobile Friendly Content
Headings for mobile consumption should be short as to not take up multiple text lines, but strong enough to capture the reader’s attention. This applies to headlines for all mobile content such as subject lines for emails. Remember that you are writing the content for smaller screens so that any long-winded content will seem at least twice as long as that on a desktop. A large headline could avert your reader before even clicking (or tapping) on the article.
Mobile readers are either on-the-go or impatient to the point where if you present them with a wall of text, it will discourage them away from your site entirely. Mobile readers, namely on smartphones, have no intention of reading a novel on that small of a screen. It’s best to break up your content into small, easily digestible paragraphs. Think of each paragraph as a thought, with needed breaks in between.
As with any content, desktop or mobile, you’ll want to optimize your content for SEO. Again, mobile searches are surpassing desktop searches, so ranking higher on search engine results pages is crucial. Headlines and the rest of your articles should include relevant keywords. It will help your mobile content to be optimized locally, as many searches conducted on mobile devices are for business and services close to an individual. This is demonstrated when you type in a business or service in Google and the suggestions or autocomplete, and it brings up the term “near me.”
Optimizing your business website and content for mobile devices has become a necessary step for any web developer or designer. Smartphones, tablets, and other devices play a daily — sometimes hourly — role in everyone’s life. The implications of missing the boat of optimizing for mobile devices are far too great not to invest in doing so. However, when you do optimize your business website to become mobile friendly, your traffic and business will increase.