A guest article by Daniel Guidotti. Share your article by following the guest blogging guidelines.
Today, because of the huge popularity of smartphones, tablets, and other hand-held devices, website owners, whether they be businesses or bloggers, cannot afford not to have a mobile-friendly website. More and more people are accessing the Web through mobile devices, and some studies suggest that in the not-so-distant future mobile Internet usage will further increase. If your website is not mobile friendly, visitors will not stay around for long, and that means you will lose potential followers or customers.
There are several approaches to building a mobile-friendly website. If your site uses a CMS like WordPress, you can start by grabbing a free plugin like WPTouch that optimizes your web pages for display on the iPhone and other popular smartphones, as well as for the iPad, by creating a separate, lighter version of your website that loads only for mobile users. You can also buy a premium responsive theme designed to display flawlessly on all screen sizes. A good premium theme is usually at least $25 dollars, but the investment is well worth it.
Once you’ve added a plugin that makes your website mobile friendly, and purchased a responsive theme, it’s time to tweak your design to ensure the mobile user experience is excellent. Here are some tips.
- Strip your website of all unnecessary elements and pages. A mobile-friendly website has to be light, to include only those elements that are essential to your business: company information, contact, shopping cart, and so on. A website laden with information will appear cluttered on a mobile device, and it will also load slowly.
- Disable all pop-ups. Pop-ups are quite annoying for desktop visitors, but for mobile users they are terrible. Closing pop-ups on a smartphone or a table is a really nasty business, and it takes the charm out of the user experience. If you really need pop-ups keep them only for the version of your website displayed to desktop and laptop visitors.
- Don’t use Flash. Websites with Flash animations often provide a poor user experience for mobile users because many mobile devices, iPhone included, don’t favor Flash. Stick to simple text-based content that displays well on all screen types and mobile visitors will love your website.
- Put emphasis on usability. Do this by creating conspicuous links and buttons that are easy to ‘touch’, provide your phone number and location on your homepage, or if not, make it only one-click away, and choose a readable font with an appropriate size that fits the width of the screen.
- Test your mobile website across devices. There are hundreds of different screen variations, meaning that even if your mobile website displays well on the iPhone and the iPad, there’s a good chance it won’t show well on some lesser-known devices. Using Screenfly, you can test your website for the most popular screen sizes.
- Give mobile users the option to view the full site. Doing this is important because some users might want to access or use a part or a resource of your website that is not available by default for the mobile website. The best position for a link leading to the full version of your website is at the bottom of the page, where it doesn’t intrude.
- Optimize images and videos for mobile users. Images and videos slow down your mobile website considerably, sometimes ruining the user experience. But removing them altogether is not usually a good idea because your website might end up looking just too plain. What you can do instead is to reduce the size of the images, and to make available for mobile users non-HD videos.
There is no magic application or plugin that can make your website mobile friendly right away. You really have to understand what devices your visitors are using, and then to optimize your site for those.