How to optimize your website for mobiles
As the use of smartphones and tablets has steadily increased over the past few years, it is now crucial for every business to optimize web pages for these devices. With an optimized mobile website, a business is not only more reachable to its customers, it also means it is has set itself up broadly, and thus it is maximally visible on the Internet. This ensures that the business will most certainly be found and commissioned more often.
As Google attaches importance to providing users with the best possible experience when browsing the web, it is, therefore, essential to pay attention to the mobile usability of your website, as well as understand what typical mistakes should be avoided. Begin with considering the following tips to ensure it is done efficiently.
1. Establish what purpose the mobile site will serve
As the saying goes, ‘Context is King’. So, before you jump on the mobile or app bandwagon, the usage context is what you should focus on first. You should always keep in mind under what conditions users will use your page or application and what they want to achieve with it.
It is important that your design makes sense on a mobile basis and that its functions are adapted to the needs of mobile users. To do this, you can consider using a professional app optimization service for more help.
2. Avoid overloading a page with information
Information overload on small screens results in a bad user experience. Mobile users face different challenges than users on the desktop or laptop screen. Mobile screens are much smaller, and reading through a peephole increases cognitive overload, making it twice as hard to understand the text on a mobile device compared to on a desktop.
Also, mobile users tend to be even more rushed than desktop users. This will mean they will have less patience with sites that do not meet their needs. An inappropriate setting and any confusing content will make them leave the site.
It is therefore essential to reduce the content of mobile pages to the minimum and adapt the content of your website to the mobile usage context. Remember, rules that are crucial on the desktop for optimal user experience, lose their validity in mobile design:
3. Reduce long loading times
If your site takes a lifetime to load, your mobile users will waste no time at all to leave. Research shows that after three seconds; a significant proportion of users leave if a site has not fully loaded. Ths in return increases the bounce rate of a website (which is the average time users spend on a website page), thus affecting your Google search results.
To prevent high bounce rates, you should test the load time of your mobile website and optimize it if necessary. For this, it may be best to use Google PageSpeed Insights, where the possible problems that affect the loading time of your site will be highlighted in more detail.
4. Integrate animations with HTML
To ensure a good user experience, you should integrate videos and animated content with standard HTML tags. When Flash Player, Java, and some other formats are not supported on mobile devices, the consequence is that the user receives a message that ‘the video is not available on mobile devices.’ This will result in an unpleasant user experience causing people to avoid your site in the future.
5. Choose a responsive design
For mobile websites, it is ideal to choose templates or themes that are consistent across devices. This allows your site to become more responsive. A responsive design ensures that the content on your website automatically adapts to the screen size of the device used. Neither the URL nor the HTML code changes.
With the Google mobile-friendly test, you can test whether the responsive design works when finished. The test examines simple requirements, but it may not be able to test whether the site has a high mobile user experience.
6. Position images correctly
Pictures on mobile pages are very much needed as they create a special aesthetic. However, knowing where to place the image when optimizing for a mobile user is crucial. Make sure the user doesn’t have to scroll first because an image is displacing the actual content downwards.
Also, make sure that the image is meaningful for users. If not, remove it. If yes, carefully edit the image and place it in an area that avoids excessive scrolling for the user.
Lastly, make sure that the images on your mobile website carry the appropriate ALT tags. This is not only important from an SEO point of view, but also for reasons of user friendliness – such as when images cannot be loaded the title of the image will appear.
7. Give enough space in between elements
Nothing is more frustrating for smartphone users than undersized buttons or navigation elements, be it buttons, links or menu categories that cannot be precisely clicked with the thumb (or other fingers). Make sure that both the size of the touch elements on your mobile website and the distances are sufficient.
Also, consider how mobile users hold and use their smartphone. There are different gestures from one smartphone user to another. When you observe other smartphone users, you will notice that there are endless ways in which people hold and use their cell phones.
8. Allow important words to stand out
The arrangement and design of website elements is an essential basis for a good user experience: Since H1 and H2 headers are more important than H3 headers or links, they should be correspondingly larger and more prominent. In addition to size, color, shape or contrast, for example, make certain elements stand out visually. Especially on the smaller screens of mobile devices, visual hierarchies make it much easier to use them.