July 4, 2017 > Tech Trend: Mobile-Friendly Websites
Tech Trend: Mobile-Friendly Websites
By Chris Williams
Last November represented a tipping point for web browsing. According to ZDNet, more people accessed the internet from their phones than from desktops and laptops, and mobile internet usage has continued to rise since then.
It has become a common sight to see people out in public concentrating on their phones, but theyÕre not just texting; theyÕre searching the web, ordering products, and doing work. Some of those folks are small business customers, which means websites have not only to look good, but be mobile-friendly.
What is Mobile-Friendliness?
In April 2015, Google changed how it ranks websites. Since then, small business websites that arenÕt mobile-friendly have seen their search presence shrink, while competitors with mobile-friendly sites rank higher.
Mobile-friendliness refers to how a website appears on different devices. A phoneÕs screen is much smaller than a laptopÕs, so a website needs to arrange itself accordingly. Customers donÕt like being forced to swipe around several times to see everything. If a website is smart enough to reorganize itself on a phone, itÕs considered mobile-friendly.
If youÕre unsure whether your site is mobile-friendly, visit GoogleÕs free tester: Mobile Friendly Testing Tool (https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly) and type in your siteÕs URL. It will tell you if the website shows up properly on a phone. If so, fine; but if not, itÕs time to make some changes.
Moving to Mobile-Friendly
Google pushes mobile-friendliness because web users want it, while lack of it is one of the biggest reasons visitors leave a website. No small business can afford to lose customers, so itÕs no longer optional to have a mobile-friendly site.
Making a site mobile-friendly depends the site complexity. Some websites need minor adjustments; others require major overhauls.
¥ Made in WordPress? YouÕll have the easiest time moving to a mobile-friendly setup. All you do is use a plugin or responsive theme. Most up-to-date themes are mobile-friendly by default. If you arenÕt sure, email the themeÕs creator.
¥ Made with a CMS? Check with the CMS maker. It may include Òresponsive designÓ as a pre-built option or an add-on you can activate. (Responsive Design is a term for an underlying technology that senses the type of device someone views your website on. The site then changes how it looks to match that device).
¥ Made with basic HTML? That was fine in the past, but not anymore. YouÕll need to redevelop your site.
In any case, itÕs worth the effort. A 2016 survey by Clutch.co (https://clutch.co/web-designers/resources/small-business-websites-2016-survey) found that 68 percent of small business websites are now mobile-friendly. This is much better than the 1 out of 5 in 2015, but it still means that thousands of small businesses are ignoring customers using mobile phones.
Mobile-friendly websites avoid Google search penalties and provide a marketing advantage for small businesses that are competing with big name competitors. If other websites arenÕt mobile-friendly and yours is, youÕve beaten the other guys to a share of the market!