Recently we published the news that Google is to update its algorithms on 21st April 2015 to ensure that it will in future rank sites better if they are mobile friendly. No doubt the news has had many a site owner rushing to Google Page Speed Insights to check if their site is good enough for mobile, but what do you do if you find that it’s not? We’re here to help at Elcom and as such, here’s a quick guide to getting your site ready for what the industry has dubbed mobigeddon.
Optimise Your Images
Images are usually the main culprits when it comes to your site slowing down and as such you should ensure that they are fully optimised for mobile. It’s far easier to optimise them when they are not already on the site though, so as best practice you should do this from now on.
PNG is usually the lightest format for images, which should have small file sizes, rather than be small in actual size. You can convert images to PNG and reduce file sizes using your image editing software. Adobe Elements is a quick and simple tool to use for this and once you’ve saved the image, you can further reduce its size by using the Tiny PNG online tool – do take care with this tool though as it can reduce quality too much.
Web Design Approach
Depending on the kind of site you have, it may be that you also have to get into dynamic serving which means that only the content that you want delivered to each device is sent. This can be costly if you have a site that’s not yet mobile-ready, so you should discuss your options with your designer.
ElcomCMS’s mobile module is also a great choice as it has its own User Detection Agent technology which detects the mobile device that requests the site and adapts your site and its content to suit. You can use it for any RWD (Responsive Web Design) or Adaptive design site too and easily switch between desktop and mobile view when you’re creating your content for simple editing that doesn’t require a graphic design degree.
Site Design Tips
If you need a new site, then your first choice will be to decide whether to have an Adaptive, RWD or separate mobile site altogether. Whilst Google does recommend RWD, it has said that the algorithm won’t look for RWD sites specifically. I would recommend going for Adaptive or RWD, as you can then use one URL, rather than having another, separate, mobile URL, which is better for SEO as the search engines only have one URL to crawl and index rather than two.
You should bear in mind when considering the initial design a few factors, including:
- Flash – whilst it’s still around it’s debatable how much longer Flash will be with us. Flash sites are impossible to index, as they contain no text and tend to be buggy too, so you should consider instead having animations done in HTML5 if possible.
- Pop-ups – whilst a lot of sites don’t use pop-up ads, there is a current trend for pop-up lightboxes which contain a CTA such as newsletter sign up. These are great on desktop but can be far too intrusive on mobile screens, so either get rid or carry out some A/B testing to see how people react with and without it.
- Touch – mobile users do of course use their fingers when browsing a site on their phone or tablet to click, so ensure clickable areas are designed for fat fingers and that they don’t encroach on surrounding areas.
- Content – think about how you can ensure that the content being sent to mobile is relatively concise. Whilst you can’t do much about articles, these should be well-formatted so that they have plenty of white space, sub-headers, bullets and images so that they can be taken in quickly and easily.
- Local search – if your business is one that needs to be found by the general public, then you should also optimise for local search and ensure that all pages have a ‘call us’ button on them.
Mobile has been an increasingly important aspect of the web for a few years now and it’s no surprise that Google is adjusting its algorithms to suit. If you haven't already, you should be carefully considering and optimising you site to be mobile friendly.
If you have any questions about your site's mobile strategy, please feel free to contact us to discuss further.
See also our mobile web best practices white paper for further details.