Over the past year, our collective screentime rates have soared. That’s not surprising, as millions of people relied on the internet to work, learn, and socialize. And if you’re like most people, you spend an exorbitant amount of time looking at your smartphone.
We use these devices to find out new information, to connect with others in our network, and to make all kinds of purchases. And yet, many business owners fail to realize the importance of having a mobile-friendly website.
The truth is that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll be missing out on massive opportunities. You could even hurt your brand in the process.
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be mobile-friendly, why it matters, and what you can do to improve your website’s mobile accessibility.
What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?
First, let’s discuss what it means to have a mobile-friendly web design. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not enough to have a URL that can be typed into a smartphone’s browser. Nor is a web page that shows up for mobile users inherently mobile-friendly.
Having a mobile-friendly website means that it performs well when viewed on mobile devices (like smartphones and tablets). In fact, it should provide the same quality experience for mobile users and desktop users.
In 2021, having a responsive design is actually even better than a mobile-friendly design. With some mobile-friendly websites, certain features are limited for better usability on a smaller screen. But with responsive design, the website will automatically calibrate depending on the device being used for viewing.
In that sense, responsive design provides consistent accessibility across the board. A mobile-friendly website may be a bit more pared-down, but it still offers all of the same content and value.
No matter which one you choose, the point to remember here is that your website must be easy to find, access, and navigate on any device. If you’re wondering why that is, read on.
Why Do Websites Need to Be Mobile-Friendly?
There are numerous reasons why your website should provide a great experience for mobile users. For one thing, mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of all web traffic, according to Think With Google.
That means it’s a safe bet that potential customers will try to visit your site using their smartphones. If you don’t provide a great experience for those users, the consequences can be severe.
Customers won’t spend more than a few seconds on a website that doesn’t fit their needs or meet their expectations. If your site is slow to load or hard to navigate, they’ll abandon your site quickly and look elsewhere for solutions.
In the short term, that means that you’ll likely lose out to a competitor. That alone can have an adverse effect on your business, as it could mean a huge loss of revenue.
But the long-term result could be even worse for your brand. If Google notices that customers are abandoning your website en masse or your site doesn’t adhere to the best practices for mobile-friendly design, that could hurt your ability to rank well in search results.
Because Google doesn’t want to reward sites that aren’t providing enough value to web users, you’ll have a tough time improving your ranking.
In fact, many of Google’s algorithm updates have showcased the power of mobile – and what can happen if you dismiss it.
Even if you work with a white label SEO agency to improve your on-page optimization, it won’t matter much if your website doesn’t serve its intended purpose.
In the end, a website that isn’t mobile-friendly will drive customers away and make it harder for you to market your business.
With that in mind, you may want to learn how to assess the mobile-friendliness of your website – and what to do if it isn’t up to par.
How Can I Make My Site Mobile-Friendly?
Before we dive into some tips for improving your site’s mobile accessibility, let’s touch on how you can determine where you stand right now.
Your site might not be mobile-friendly if…
- It hasn’t been redesigned in over five years
- Your bounce rate is abnormally high
- Your site is extremely slow to load
- You’ve never looked at it on your phone
- Your conversion rates have taken a dive
- You’ve had issues after recent algorithm updates
- Customers frequently abandon their shopping carts
- You’ve received general complaints about your site
Certainly, these aren’t the only indicators that your website could use a mobile-friendly upgrade. But if these signs sound familiar, you’ll want to first run a mobile-friendly test (like the one offered by Google Search Console) to confirm your suspicions.
From there, you can find out the steps you’ll need to take for better web design. In addition to the suggestions Google might make, you’ll want to consider the following tips.
- Eliminate Intrusive Interstitials: You might know intrusive interstitials by a different name – pop-ups! While some pop-ups on your own site can be great for lead generation, you need to be careful about how you use them. Intrusive interstitials, specifically, are pop-ups that are meant to cover the entire screen (or close to it). This makes it difficult for mobile users to access your site properly. Take care to remove these kinds of pop-ups. For the ones you keep, make sure they’re easy to close and that they don’t show up on every page. You can even build in delays to ensure they don’t appear right away.
- Compress Large Images: Site speed is one area where a lot of websites fail. While it might not seem like a big deal, a tiny amount of delay can have a big impact. Customers are likely to abandon a website after waiting only a few seconds. But if you improve your site speed, your conversion potential will skyrocket. One of the ways to speed up your site is to compress large images that might be slowing it down. This won’t impact the quality of the image, but it’ll make your site a whole lot speedier.
- Get a Better Web Host: As mentioned above, site speed matters. If image size isn’t the culprit and you haven’t found anything substantial during the troubleshooting process, it could be that your hosting service is slowing down your site. Paying for a less expensive web host might seem like a great deal at first, but you can quickly outgrow your limited service. You might consider upgrading your plan to accommodate increased web traffic or finding a new web host altogether to ensure nothing slows you down.
- Consider Clickability: If web users can’t interact with your site on mobile, it won’t matter how fast it is. When designing (or redesigning) your site for mobile, you need to consider clickability. Because the screen is smaller, certain design elements may be more difficult to tap on mobile than on desktop. Buttons and links need to be large enough to tap on the average smartphone. In the same vein, the font size you choose should be legible without a magnifying glass. Although you can easily zoom in on mobile, that’s just one extra step your customers won’t want to take.
- Prioritize Simplicity: In general, simplicity wins out when designing for mobile. That’s really true of all web design at this point, but it’s especially important for mobile devices. Complicated and crowded design will be difficult to decipher on a smartphone, while plugins like Flash simply won’t work on most mobile devices. You might want your website to stand out, but it’s better to ensure it’s functional and on the simple side.
- Improve Site Security: Website security is important to mobile users, so it’s important to Google, too. Since we hand over so much of our personal information online, you need to do everything in your power to protect it. If you don’t have an SSL certificate for your website, Google will probably warn potential customers that they should stay away. And if you handle any payment information at all, you’ll want to ensure your site is PCI compliant. Be sure to update your CMS regularly to address any vulnerabilities, as well. The last thing you want is to deal with a hack! And if customers know you take their security seriously, they’ll be more likely to support you.
- Keep the Core Web Vitals in Mind: Google recently launched its Page Experience algorithm update, which featured its Core Web Vitals among its ranking factors. In addition to page load speed, you’ll want to pay attention to interactivity delays and unexpected layout shifts. These can impact your site’s ability to rank because they disrupt the user experience. Addressing these considerations in your redesign can set you up for success.
Simply put, mobile-friendliness matters – and the emphasis on mobile traffic will only continue to grow. If your site is missing the mobile mark, you’ll want to address these problems to meet your customers’ needs and improve your rankings.