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Is it time to get your site mobile-friendly?

Is it time to get your site mobile-friendly?

Maybe you’re like me, and you still think of your cellphone as simply, a mobile telephone…a means to make a phonecall whilst on the run. Maybe, unlike those around you, you don’t sit with your eyeballs glued to your smartphone screen 24/7, and If that’s the case, you’re ‘old school’. Just like me. Sadly, we’re in the minority.

Does that mean that we should stubbornly ignore the hype over ‘mobile-friendly’ websites?

No. I don’t believe it’s wise to bury one’s head in the sand like the proverbial Ostrich. I’m not saying we should jump on every fashion band-wagon that comes around. I, for one, stand firm against skinny-jeans – not all change is progression after all – but if we resist everything that’s different to what we’re comfortable with, we’ll be left behind. Remember in the 80’s how Cyndi Lauper and Madonna had virtually the same look, sound and popularity? Well, consider that most of the younger generation haven’t even heard of Cyndi Lauper – while Madonna is still a household name. That’s because Cyndi Lauper stayed in her comfort-zone, while Madonna adapted over the years to what her audience wanted to look at, and wanted to hear.

Do your customers browse your site on a mobile device?

Whether or not you decide to start browsing the web using your cellphone is your prerogative, but if you own a website, then you need to think about your audience, and what they want. I don’t even need to tell you that at the time of writing 32.9% of your customers are using their phones to browse the web [2017 Edit: Now 52.27%] – you can see it all around you – but here’s my source in case you don’t believe me.

I’ll also just leave this appropriate meme here…

The Real Zombie Apocalypse.

If it’s important to Google…

Besides simply giving your audience what they want, you also need to consider that Google basically has us by the short and curlies when it comes to ‘getting found’ on the web, so pleasing the digital overlords should be priority. Since April 2015, Google has started using ‘mobile-friendliness’ as part of their search engine ranking criteria. That means that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it could, and probably will start to drop in the search results pages. In other words, where all else is equal, your competitor’s mobile-friendly site will be seen before yours. Here’s a source for that too. If that’s not motivation enough, I don’t know what is.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

Even with sites that aren’t specifically built with mobile-friendliness in mind, one can still pinch and zoom to read the text, but that’s not ‘friendly’. That’s a chore. Mobile friendliness means that:

  • The website dynamically adapts to fit better inside the screen that it’s viewed upon. We call this ‘responsive web design
  • The website menu must be navigable even when a mouse is not present. This means that drop-down menus need to work on click and not just on hover
  • Links that are stacked together need enough padding that an average to sausage sized finger can click the link they want without opening adjacent links by accident
  • Also recommended is to serve the customer smaller images when they view the site on a mobile phone. Making them download the same size images as those using widescreen monitors is a waste of their time and bandwidth.

You can test to see if Google thinks your site is mobile friendly with Google’s Mobile Friendly Tester, and you can test your site more thoroughly by eye using Web Planet’s Responsive Checker.

So what now?

Ask your web designer for a quote to upgrade your site to a responsive site. The bad news is it’s going to cost you money. If done right, it’s a fair amount of work, so probably quite a bit of money. In the long run though, it’s well worth it. Don’t let your website become a Cyndi Lauper.

Article by Roxane Lapa of .COZA Web Design

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