Mobile Devices are here to stay
Not sure if you have heard the news, but Google has confirmed it will be focusing on websites that work best on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Mobile devices are used for a great range of things these days from helping in-store decisions on purchases to getting ideas whilst doing something.
As for these new changes, there will be a Google search primarily focused on showing great mobile friendly search results. Although they will still have just one index, it means if your website does not work well on mobile phones and tablets, it will drop in rank for mobile searches. Here is what Google said on their blog:
“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”
Why is Mobile First Design Important?
Whether its a new or old website, you need to ensure your site is going to both look good and work on mobile devices if you want any chance at all of showing up on Google search results. With most searches these days coming from mobile and non-desktop devices, it is worth putting in the extra effort to get found on mobile devices. How often do you use your smartphone to quickly Google something, from directions, reviews or shopping?
SEO or search engine optimisation is about optimising your website and listings so they show up well in Google search results, preferably on page 1 of Google, because seriously, how many times have you dusted the cobwebs off page 2 of Google search? This change has been coming for a while now, and smart business owners have taken advantage of it by making their websites responsive to screen sizes, or creating a secondary site solely for mobile users.
A website on a mobile device needs to look and work differently to that of a desktop. Firstly, from a user point of view, the site needs to still be easy to read and laid out correctly. This means choosing appropriate fonts and text size. Secondly, most of these devices will be employing the user’s finger or a stylus as the cursor. Your site navigation needs to take advantage of this with appropriately sized buttons and link boxes.
Mobile devices is a broad term and covers many devices. This is why we recommend using a responsive WordPress theme that will change it’s layout actively to suit the different screen widths. Phones are all shapes and sizes, there are Apple iPads in a myriad of screen sizes and displays, as well as other tablets, kiosk screens, advertising monitors and boards, and so much more. Having a secondary site dedicated to mobile is one thing, although it primarily focuses on phone and tablet screens, whilst its desktop counterpart takes care of the big screens. Sometimes there can be an in-between size where neither of these sites look and work well on. Our biggest headache has always been the iPad mini screens. They can be difficult to cater for with some website designs, especially because they need to look good using the device in both portrait and landscape view. #webdevlife
How do I get a Responsive Website?
Depending on what you already have, it could be just a simple upgrade to some code. Other times, it could be worth starting fresh and transferring your website to a new platform, theme or design. We recommend either Twitter Bootstrap or a responsive WordPress theme like Divi from Elegant Themes.
QUICK SHOUTOUT to Divi builder by Elegant Themes. As part of the Divi theme, the page builder makes things super simple, and I prefer the user interface of it more than that of the popular page builder, Visual Composer. The latest version also allows you to build and modify on both the back end and through the front end. The other benefit worth mentioning is being able to modify the screen size view for each module of the page. Perfect when you are trying to get something looking just right on a device like the iPad mini!
Having responsive sizing means that it is coded in to the CSS or cascading style sheet, and your website will include settings for different sized screens. This will then actively change your website’s layout dependent on that screen size.
To do this effectively, we need to ensure that the main navigation, images and text content is easy to see and use on something small like an older touchscreen phone. We also then should check how it displays on something like the latest iPhone with retina display. Images need to look sharp and crisp on all sizes, text needs to be easy to read, and navigation needs to be simple to use.
A RESPONSIVE SITE IS NOT ALWAYS THE PERFECT RESULT. We have seem many WordPress themes that state they are responsive, but using them on a mobile device is woeful! Be sure to always test the theme out and don’t just rely on the package notes stating a feature. After all, you might as well just have a great desktop site that looks half decent on a mobile device than a mobile version of your website that does not work.
What about website size?
I believe that size will play an important role when it comes to mobile first website design, solely because everyone wants everything now, and waiting for a website to load is a waste of time. Attention span? Think Goldfish! You need to make your information accessible as quick as possible. No wasting time on page load or confusing navigation.
Secondly, if more and more people are using mobile devices and phones on cellular networks, the amount of internet data they consume is going to be a key factor. So keep that in mind and scale your images correctly, optimise how much content is on each page, and please…. test it out yourself on an actual phone!
Test your website right now
The first place to start before worrying and planning changes is to check how your site performs currently. Plug in your web address into this Google doo-hicky and it will output a result. More green the better people!TEST YOUR SITE NOW
So what will happen if I don’t?
It is quite simple really. Google will have the one search index but will tailor search results depending on the device they are shown on. If your market audience spends 90% of their time on mobile devices, and your website is not mobile friendly, when they do a search for a product or service you offer, you might not get found. But that’s ok, how many people use Google anyways, really?!
Don’t risk getting lost on Google search results, make sure your website caters for both mobile and desktop users. We have been designing and updating websites for business clients across the Hunter Valley to ensure that their web presence is mobile friendly. Most online directories work well on mobile devices. It is no use getting found on these and people clicking through to your tired old non-responsive website. Web is important, and for many businesses, is your shopfront. Make it always look its best. If you need help, employ a professional. My business is always available to discuss your options, and see where you are currently at.