Over the past six months a clarion has been sounded about making websites “mobile friendly.” This push was driven in large part by Google’s new mobile search algorithm, which penalizes sites that don’t meet its mobile friendliness standards. And the push seems to have paid off—more businesses now have mobile friendly sites than ever before.
Hopefully that means your business now uses “responsive design,” a web design method that takes a single website and automatically reformats it to fit a user’s device. That means users won’t have to squint to read your text or constantly resize the screen to see everything on it. However, Will Scott just wrote an excellent piece that points out this isn’t always enough. Even with a mobile friendly website, businesses can make mobile mistakes and not even realize it—which means customers leave your site and look elsewhere.
Here are two of the biggest pitfalls Will shows us, and how to beat them.
#1 More than Just “Responsive”
Utilizing responsive design is the first and best step toward a truly great mobile experience, but it doesn’t mean your visitors will always have an easy time using the site. The main thing responsive design does is resize elements on the screen so they fit easily in a small screen. It can also reorganize them so they fit in one vertical column. But as Will points out, that can lead to some annoying user experiences. A few examples:
- Pages can become very long, meaning lots of scrolling to get to the good stuff. This is usually from lengthy copy, too many on-page elements, or both. Consider shorter copy for mobile users and either cut those extra elements or put under a pull-down.
- Graphic elements can be awkward. For example, if you sell shoes and have a large “find my size” chart, responsive design will shrink it to fit on a mobile screen–probably making it unreadable. Users have to resize the screen and then scroll back and forth to read it. Either design a narrower mobile-friendly version or switch to a pulldown tool (e.g. they select their foot measurement from a list and the tool tells them their size in US and EU sizes).
- Some features don’t translate well and can eat up screen size. For example, The New Yorker magazine has a banner at the top of the screen with the magazine’s name and a toolbar pulldown. This banner stays on the screen as you scroll down through an article. On a phone that eats up 20 percent of the screen space, leaving very little space to actually read the article.
As Will points out the best way to find out about these problems is to actually try to use all of your pages on a variety of devices.
#2 User Intent
The other great point that Will makes is that users tend to come to mobile sites for very specific things, and this is different than what they look for on regular websites. Thus, you’ll want to know what mobile users are looking for and make sure it’s prominent.
Generally, you can expect that a large portion of mobile users are looking for basic stats on the go: your location, your hours, and maybe your contact info. Make sure this information is easy to find on mobile devices. More than that, make sure it’s easy to use: does your contact form work as well on a smartphone as it does on a laptop? Does your Location page feature a map applet that’s jumpy on a touchscreen?
Figure out what your visitors want from your site and make sure it is easy to use on all devices.
Leverage Your Mobile Traffic
Will offers a lot more tips on how to make the most of your mobile website, and I recommend reading his article. Many business owners still see mobile as less important than site traffic overall, but mobile visitors are often primed to buy your goods or services and you should leverage this traffic for all it’s worth.
We can help you do that. Our digital marketing team can build truly mobile-optimized websites that will help users get what they want and become paying customers. We can also make sure your mobile SEO is up to snuff and will bring you the most traffic possible. Contact us for a free consultation today.