According to a 2020 report by Statista, there are currently 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, and this number is expected to increase to 3.8 billion users by 2021. For ecommerce alone, approximately 65% of customer traffic now comes from mobile devices. As more users are turning toward their mobile devices to access web content, it is crucial for organizations and businesses to focus their efforts on creating a thoughtful mobile device strategy for their website.
The goal is to create an efficient and user-friendly website that allows for seamless access across all devices (Android or iOS). To achieve this, an organization’s user experience (UX) software development team must develop their website with the tools in place to accurately translate from platform to platform. Then, quality assurance (QA) engineers must choose a test automation platform that includes features for efficient mobile testing, such as intuitive element explorer, automatic step recorders, and real-time mirroring of mobile view to the desktop.
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In this article, we will address the reasons why you should develop a mobile-friendly website, as well as offer some quick tests to help you check your website’s mobile compatibility.
What Does a Mobile-Friendly Website Look Like?
A mobile-friendly website should be both logistically and visually functional across the plethora of mobile devices available. Designing a website for mobile use involves components such as graphical user interface (GUI) widgets, pictures, and text, all of which must be reduced in size and re-arranged.
Visually, a cross-device website should be able to resize proportionally for a variety of screen sizes, resolutions, and orientations. Flexibility is crucial to mobile optimization, and designers must ensure that a user’s browsing experience will be the same, regardless of the device.
When it comes to pictures on a mobile website, simplicity is the best practice. If there are too many pictures cluttering a mobile webpage, users will be distracted and overwhelmed. Mobile screens are typically much smaller than traditional computer screens, and therefore are better suited for just a few images that are properly sized to the screen.
Text should likewise be short and sweet. Long-form content is difficult and time-consuming to read on a mobile device, as users have to continuously scroll in order to read all of the text. Apart from this, users may find themselves using zoom in order to read too-small content meant for web viewing. For mobile web pages, try keeping your articles, sentences, and paragraphs generally short.
To summarize - mobile-friendly websites have a simple and easily navigable design, with minimal pictures and no large text blocks.
Why Should You Develop a Mobile-Friendly Website?
1. A distracting or slow mobile graphical user interface (GUI) leads users to abandon the website.
For most users, a website that’s incompatible with mobile devices can be incredibly frustrating. If the mobile site version hasn’t adjusted for screen size or the display is too cluttered, it becomes a challenge to navigate. Research by Google found that 53% of users abandon and will not revisit a web page if it doesn’t correctly load the first time, indicating that a well-planned mobile UX design is necessary for user retention.
2. Google penalizes poorly designed mobile websites.
Google penalizes a site if the mobile responsiveness is poorly designed and implemented. Penalties can impact rankings, search result positioning, and site listings, which may result in less traffic to a website and, consequently, less business.
3. Google also performs algorithm updates concerning mobile websites.
Here are a few of the updates performed in the past few years:
- July 2018 – Google made an update to their search algorithms regarding mobile website speed, thereby making website page speed one of the ranking factors for mobile results.
- March 2018 – The mobile-first indexing algorithm was launched by Google. Since then, the mobile version of a website was associated with its ranking and indexing. Since then, websites have begun to migrate towards this approach.
- Jan 2017 – Google started penalizing websites if they contained "intrusive interstitials" - popup ads - that negatively impacted user experience.
Which Tools Can Help Test a Website’s Mobile Compatibility?
There are a number of automated tools that test for mobile-friendliness, answering relevant questions such as:
- Does the site use incompatible plugins? Ideally, the website should adhere to the latest web technology guidelines.
- Does the current content display beyond the screen? Web content that’s sized and formatted to fit mobile device screens is necessary for a great user experience.
- Are the user interface (UI) widget elements too close to each other? This may make it challenging for users to click on widgets, if they are too close or too large.
Here are some examples of tools that can test for mobile compatibility:
1. Google mobile-friendly test
The Google mobile-friendly test will display the rendered page as it would appear on a mobile screen. After assessing mobile compatibility, the tool will provide results and feedback, specifying any errors the mobile version may have.
The SEO site RankWatch also offers a mobile responsiveness test for websites. To test a website, this tool uses criteria based on loading speed, content, design, and other visual
Additionally, software development teams and QA teams should stay up-to-date on mobile trends and user behavior. This includes following any updates made to Google’s search algorithms as well as staying familiar with the mobile-friendly Google SEO practices, both of which are important for increasing traffic and search rankings. Website developers need to update their websites accordingly and proactively.
As the number of mobile device users grows, developing a mobile device strategy is becoming increasingly vital for many companies and organizations. A successful website must be accessible and functional across a variety of platforms, adapting to the ever-changing ways we consume information. Mobile-friendly websites are efficient and optimized, offering great UX design and content while encouraging user retention.