Mobile-Friendly Websites

There are over 1 billion smartphone users in the world, and that number is growing steadily. Given the overwhelming usage statistics, all major search engines give preferential ranking to mobile-friendly websites.  Needless to say, it is now an absolute necessity that your website be optimized for mobile devices.

At Search Owls, all of our websites are optimized for mobile devices to ensure the best possible search rankings, and ultimately generate the most leads for your business. Mobile site optimization requires the implementation of several techniques. Since we build our websites on WordPress, we will focus primarily on strategies that pertain to the WordPress content management system (CMS).

The first, most basic technique for a mobile-friendly WordPress website is to install a mobile-responsive theme. When a theme, or template, is responsive, it means that the content is reorganized and displayed in a manner based on the dimensions of the screen it is being viewed on. For example, a website displaying three text modules in a row on the desktop version of the site would reorganize those modules to display in one column in descending order on a mobile phone, given that the screen size and the dimensions in portrait view. The width of an area on a responsive site is determined by the width of the screen it is being displayed on. In contrast, a site that is not responsive will display in the same fashion on any device, but will be virtually unreadable to anyone viewing it on mobile unless the user manually zooms in on the content.

Even with a mobile-responsive theme installed, there are still certain important design elements to be addressed for users viewing your site on mobile. Text size and font choice are critical to the legibility of a site, and can easily make the difference between someone deciding to stay on the site and leaving immediately. Some WordPress templates, such as Divi by Elegant Themes, include customizers that allow for specific mobile elements, including font and text-size. Where one particular font may look fantastic on the desktop site, it may turn out less than legible on a mobile device. In general, it is advisable to use sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Open Sans, for large paragraphs or sections of text. Sans serif fonts, without all the hooks and edges of a serif font like Times New Roman, generally provide a cleaner look and psychologically easier read for viewers. When combined with a responsive template, readability optimizations for mobile devices will create the best possible experience for your website’s visitors.

A responsive website will not only provide a much better user experience, but will also look good to search engines. When a search engine, such as Google, send its little bots to crawl your site, it will see from the code that your website will adjust to any screen size, and automatically give your website preference in search rankings over other websites that may have similar keywords, but are not mobile-friendly.

Another mobile optimization technique that is rapidly gaining traction in the website world is the use of accelerated mobile pages (AMP). AMPs are web pages that have been stripped down to the bare minimum and are designed for ultra-fast loading times on mobile devices. Your Facebook newsfeed, which loads content instantly as users scroll through, is a great example of an AMP. In addition to providing a better user experience with blazing-fast load times, AMP news stories will take the first place in mobile search results on Google, providing yet another boost to the sites search engine optimization.

A fourth strategy for mobile optimization involves avoiding the use of certain elements on a site, including Flash elements and outdated e-commerce platforms. The death of Adobe Flash has been a long time in the making, and was confirmed many times by events such as the renaming of its professional development tool, to Animate. Over the past few years, developers have slowly but surely been pulling support for Flash from some of the most widely used programs, including YouTube, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Although Android devices supported Flash back in 2010, Apple banned it from its operating system, which brought about Flash’s first major decline. Core website technologies have since moved to strong foundations in CSS, HTML5, and JavaScript, which are able to accomplish much of what Flash provided, while simultaneously providing greater security and stability. With regard to outdated e-commerce platforms, there are few left in the marketplace. The popular platforms, including WooCommerce, Shopify, and iThemes exchange, all have strong support groups, are constantly adapting to new WordPress updates and security patches, and are optimized for mobile devices.

In summary, a combination of using a responsive theme, designing content with the mobile user in mind, utilizing Accelerated Mobile Pages when they are applicable, and avoiding elements such as Flash that don’t play well with mobile devices will ensure that your website in mobile-friendly and fully optimized.

Search Owls

3100 Airway Avenue, Suite 131

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(714) 754-1564