Per Statista, in 2019 mobile devices accounted for about 51 percent of total web page views worldwide. What that means for you is that if your website isn’t optimized to be viewed and browsed on the small screen, you’re potentially alienating more than half your audience. That’s not the only reason mobile optimization is important, either.
Google’s been pushing for websites to be more mobile-friendly since 2015. That push has continued through to today. In 2020, if your website is difficult or cumbersome to navigate on a smartphone or tablet, many aren’t going to bother with it.
The good news is that optimizing your site for mobile is easier than you’d think. It starts with an understanding of the common traits shared between all mobile-friendly websites.
A traditional website interface is designed exclusively with desktop users in mind. Users with the fine control of a mouse-and-keyboard, and the digital real estate afforded by a large screen. As anyone who’s tried browsing one of those websites on a smartphone or tablet will tell you, the experience is…not great.
In order to ensure your website plays nice with mobile devices, make it as simple as possible. Avoid features like dropdown menus, instead opting for a menu with large buttons that are easier to manage on a small screen. You might even consider taking it a step further, creating a single-page website or making use of gesture controls for navigation.
A Low Resource Footprint
Speaking of simplicity, a resource-heavy website is one of the cardinal sins of web design. Avoid loading your site up with unnecessary rich media elements like auto-playing videos, and avoid using resource-hungry scripts too extensively. Where photos are concerned, optimize them to be viewed on mobile.
According to the Houston Chronicle, most smartphones have a resolution of 640 by 320. Any images featured on your site should be around these dimensions, in addition to being lightly compressed via a tool like GIMP or Photoshop. This will ensure that they not only look good but also don’t put an unnecessary strain on a visitor’s device.
Responsive design isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a legitimate and increasingly popular web design tactic where a ‘one-size-fits-all’ website automatically reshapes itself based on the screen resolution of a user’s device. By using responsive design, you only need to put together a single website, rather than developing one for each form-factor your audience uses.
There are a few caveats here, of course.
First, as noted in this widely-circulated piece in Smashing Magazine, responsive design cannot be the only thing you do where optimizing your website is concerned. You also need to consider how resources are loaded in, what language you’re using to implement that responsiveness and follow the other advice outlined here.
Building Smarter Websites
There’s no other way to say it. If your website is not designed to be navigable on mobile devices, it’s a relic of a bygone era. And like any relic, it will inevitably be left in the past.