What Is Mobile Optimization For Web Design?
Mobile Optimization Is Crucial For Your Customers
The way we access the internet has changed significantly over the last decade. In that time, we have seen an exponential rise in the number of people accessing the web via a mobile device This growth has had implications for website developers and marketers. We want to answer the question “what is mobile optimization for web design?”
Remember in the early 2000s your first “smartphone”? You had the capability to search the internet, and have access to all the information at your fingertips. However, that experience probably led to needing to enlarge the screen, just to read! Most like you had to scroll up and down; left to right just so you could keep reading the content. It was likely not a great experience!
Smartphones have come a long way from the first days of Blackberry, iPhone 4, and other devices. The change in mobile usage from just phone calls only to texting to internet searching and more on the mobile device rather than a desktop has impacted SEO. As a result of this dynamic shift in usage, in 2015 Google implemented a new algorithm. This new search engine algorithm factored in a website’s mobile presence as part of the ranking. This is why it is imperative to have a responsive web design or dedicated mobile website that adjust to fit the screen. There are 3 major mobile design elements that should be included when creating a website:
- Readable text, without requiring the user to zoom
- No horizontal scrolling
- Adequate space for tap targets.
Allowing the user the ability to read the content of the website without zooming and horizontal scrolling will positively affect the dwell time, click through rate, session duration, and more statistics. However, none of this matters if your website is not ranking because you don’t have a mobile optimized site.
Dedicated Or Responsive Website Design?
Putting mobile first ensures that the decisions being made are for users, so they get the best experience visiting your website while using a mobile device.
There are two ways to do this:
● Create a dedicated mobile website to which visitors who are using a mobile device can be redirected
● Create a website that is “responsive” – so that the same content is optimized for the device which a visitor is utilizing.
Choosing between a dedicated mobile website and a responsive website has implications for user experience, search engine optimization (SEO), and cost, as well as practical implications for the build, maintenance, and content management. So how will you decide when choosing to have mobile optimization for web design. In other words, selecting whether to build a separate dedicated mobile site or a responsive website? If you are unsure of which to choose, you can do more research on the two, or seek professional help. Utilizing a Digital Marketing Agency can help tackle the tough questions, as well as help with design, implementation, and maintenance of the site.
While visitors who use a mobile device to access your website probably won’t notice whether your website redirects them to a dedicated site or simply responds automatically to display content in an optimum way for their particular device. Users will, however, notice if the mobile version leaves them feeling short-changed. The decisions you make will affect the user experience. For this reason, it is important to talk through the impact of your decisions carefully with your web developers. You should have your QA team test everything on a broad range of devices and displays.
What Is A Dedicated Mobile Website?
A dedicated mobile website is completely distinct from your main website, essentially you will have 2 different webpages for the same site. The dedicated mobile website URL will be housed separately from the main website and will have an “m.” before the URL. For example, m.yoursitenamehere.com would be the URL for the mobile site. A visitor that is accessing your site will be redirected to the mobile site if they are identified as a using a mobile device.
Typically, a dedicated mobile site does not give users access to the full content of the desktop site. Allowing full access to content would require managing the content across both websites. This effectively doubles the work for your content managers and developers.
However, they are designed specifically for use via mobile phones, so content and features can be cherry-picked to showcase what will work best on a mobile phone. Doing so has the potential to create a better user experience by presenting a smaller proportion of the content they could normally access on the desktop version. It is, therefore, indispensable to understand more about the behavior of your visitors when they access the site on a mobile device so content can be optimized.
What Is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design (RWD) creates a system for a site to adapt to the size of a user’s device utilizing one URL and one content source. For each visitor, the website will automatically adjust the layout of its content to match the visitor’s screen size of their device. For example, content may be displayed in a three-column format for someone accessing the website via a desktop computer, a two-column format for a tablet, or in a one-column format for a user accessing the website via a smartphone.
A responsive website has the advantage of being the best way to achieve congruity of content for all visitors to your website, regardless of what device they are using to access it. A responsive website will be fluid and have a flexible layout, adjusting accordingly to screen size. Providing this will offer an optimized browsing experience. In other words, no matter the device, desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone; the browser will look great and work well!
This has obvious advantages in terms of development and maintenance costs. With RWD the cost is developing a single site vs the main site plus a separate dedicated mobile site, as well as simplifying the content management would be less expensive. Prior to having RWD, developers would have to build more than one site just to accommodate different screen sizes. With the vast expanse of device types out there on the market today, this seems completely inefficient, and a waste of time. You should now understand why responsive web design is not a trend anymore, but a shift in the thinking behind building websites.
Even if your website is responsive, you will still need to think about which features are a priority of each page. Features should be prioritized and where they should be placed on the smaller screens will also be of high importance. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that having a responsive site frees developers from the need to consider usability from both points of view – the desktop and the mobile user.
Why Responsive Web Design Is Important For Your Business
- RWD Increase reach to customers and clients on smaller devices
- A consistent experience between platforms that can increase lead generation, sales and conversions
- Analytics, tracking, and reporting can all be in one place for all devices
- Time and cost of on-site content management is decreased
- Stay ahead of the competition
Websites that are not optimized for smaller screens can experience a decline in their search engine rankings. With over 60% of searches occurring online coming from a mobile device, it is important to ensure your website offers a tailored experience. Consumers should not have to download an app to get a functioning look at your site on mobile. This is why responsive designs are important as a mobile solution. Incorporating mobile optimization for web design is vital when designing your new website.
Google accounts for more searches conducted on the web daily than any other search engine. The Google-recommended configuration for smartphone-optimized sites is responsive web design. Google even provides a mobile responsive test, so that you can see how easily a visitor is able to use your page on a mobile device. You simply enter a page’s URL and receive a score. You can utilize this score to make improvements on your page
Choices Affect Search Engine Optimization
One of the major benefits of RWD is that they free SEO managers from worrying about the impact of redirects. The fact is that a dedicated mobile site hasn’t always inherited the rankings of the original desktop version. Redirects can affect your analytics when you are using various URL that is not the main one for your site.
However, if there is one thing we know about SEO, is that the rules are always changing, and you will need to be on top of what Google is ranking more important than other actionable items.
Recently, Google has been trying to steer the focus of website managers and developers on mobile traffic. Whereas previously, Google viewed pages primarily in terms of their desktop content. However, Google is now treating the mobile version of each page as the primary page to index.
This change has already been rolled out to users and, although Google has assured users that the change should not impact search engine rankings in any major way, it is clear that the change underlines a shift in emphasis.
Web Designers Response To Google's Mobile First Index
The “mobile first” index is bad news for businesses that have chosen to use a dedicated mobile site rather than utilizing a responsive website. As a result, they have significantly less content on the mobile version of their website. It is the development of newer Google SEO standards that make a responsive website look like an even more attractive option.
Whichever route you take, it is paramount that you have a fully-functioning mobile version of your site. If having a dedicated mobile version of your website is the route you choose to take, you will need to make sure that your mobile version is the “primary” version.
When user experience is taken into consideration, together with other factors: SEO, maintenance, and content management, it seems obvious that a responsive site is the better choice. As the world moves deeper into “mobile first,” investing in a responsive site will help to safeguard your website ranking. Of course, if you do not have an in-house team to optimize your mobile site, you can also reach out to the experts.
Digital Marketing companies, like Blue Water Marketing, specialize in mobile optimization in their web designs.
Contact us today to discuss how Blue Water Marketing can get your site optimized.