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Mobile Beats Desktop for Total Users: Time to Optimize Website Design

It’s official, folks—there are now more people surfing the web from their mobile devices than there are on desktops. Need confirmation? According to statistics cited by comScore.com, in March 2015, the single platform user share of the total digital population was 10.6% desktop, and 11.3% mobile-only (the remainder used both).

This was more recently confirmed by Google in a SearchEngineLand.com article, which stated that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan… Google groups tablets with desktops. So this is just smartphones and does not include tablets.”

Okay, What’s the Big Deal for Me?

You might be wondering why this particular tidbit is worth sharing online and writing a blog post about. So what if more people are looking things up on their phones than on their computers? How does that affect your business?

Well, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, the impact can be quite severe. And this has been a long time coming. In fact, over a year ago, we did a post about a Google update that would actively punish sites that weren’t “mobile-friendly.”

Non-mobile-friendly websites are getting pushed down the rankings in Google search engine results pages (SERPs). This makes it harder for potential customers to find and engage with your brand online.

Worse yet, a website design that isn’t optimized for mobile makes it really difficult for people on mobile devices to navigate and engage with your content. This means fewer conversions, less engagement, and fewer sales.

In short, if your site isn’t optimized for mobile users, your marketing is going to suffer.

What Should I Do About it, Then?

Since the majority of your customers are likely coming to your site on smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s high time to optimize your website for mobile. There are many things that you can do to optimize your website design for mobile, including:

  • Using Responsive Designs for Web Pages. Responsive web design has been around for ages, and it’s something every website should use. This doesn’t mean that the content shrinks to fit the screen, either. True responsive design will have fluid grids, flexible image display, and use media queries to apply different CSS style rules based on the characteristics of the device.
  • Optimizing Image Sizes and Resolutions for Faster Load Speeds. Few things irritate a mobile web surfer faster than text or buttons on a page jumping up, down, and side-to-side because image boxes keep appearing or disappearing.
  • Make Improving Page Speeds Your Personal Mantra. Aside from optimizing image load speeds, you’ll want to ensure that your page load speeds are also as fast as possible by minimizing redirects, reducing the total amount & complexity of code on each page, and taking advantage of browser caching.
  • Don’t Flash Your Website. Flash used to be really popular for creating special effects on web pages, but many mobile users won’t have Flash available on their phones—meaning they’ll miss out. Use more ubiquitous code such as HTML5 instead.
  • Avoid Pop Ups Like the Plague They Are. Have you ever been trying to navigate a webpage on your phone and gotten a huge, view-obscuring pop-up with an impossible-to-tap “X” button? Wasn’t it annoying? Guess what: your website visitors will find it annoying too, which leads to them leaving your site ASAP.
  • Leave Some Room for the Finger Drag. Unlike desktop navigation, where you have the option of a mouse scroll wheel and a pixel-perfect, easy-to-see mouse cursor, mobile navigation requires the use of a finger. People have to tap the screen to click, and drag their finger to scroll. When clickable elements are too large, too small and close, or in the path of a finger drag, it can lead to unintentional clicks and frustration. Keep layouts simple and clickable elements a decent size to make them easy to spot, but not in the way.
  • Consider Using a Separate Mobile URL. If you have the time and resources, consider setting up a separate mobile URL and site for visitors using mobile devices. A separate “m.” URL for mobile visitors can let you submit a specially-tailored version of your website that’s designed to provide an optimum mobile experience… but it can make managing your website domains a bit more complicated, and your dynamic serving site may accidentally send your users to the wrong version of your site. Plus, you’ll need to make sure that you use canonicalization (rel=”canonical”) to avoid getting dinged for duplicate content.

These are just a few of the considerations that you’ll probably need to make when optimizing your website for mobile devices.

The benefits of doing a good job here include boosting traffic & leads, growing your business, and making sure mobile visitors are happy with your site and content. So, quick question, do you know if your website is mobile-friendly?

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Douglas Phillips

Douglas Phillips

Former military brat, graduated from Leilehua High School in Wahiawa, Hawaii in 2001. After earning my Bachelor's in English/Professional Writing, took on a job as a writer here at Bluleadz.