How does your website work on smart phones and tablets?
Time was when you needed a separate website for mobile phones and there were lots of issues with different phones handling web browsing differently so for most small companies it was not practical to worry about mobile phones.
However there is more standardisation now and a lot more people using their phones to connect to the internet and Google cares if your website is mobile friendly.
The smart phones (Android phones, iPhones, BlackBerrys, Windows phones) now take the view that they will browse the standard version of your website unless you redirect them to a mobile version.
The issues are screen size and touch screen navigation
Most websites work (to a greater or lesser degree) on mobile devices, however the screen size (combined with the touch screen method of selecting links etc.) is the problem and can make it impractical to use your site effectively on a mobile phone. Sites that have not been optimised for mobile use tend to be seen on the mobile exactly as they appear on the large computer screen. Issues include:
- iPhones do not handle Flash at all so this technology has now become largely obsolete
- text may be too small and too closely packed so links and buttons are too small to click on with small touch screens
- drop down menus tend not to work
- images on your website may not work well on small screens
- pop-ups tend to be intrusive on small screens
Websites designed to work on mobile devices tend to re-organise the layout and presentation to suit the screen size – they are “Responsive”.
Google Mobile Friendly Site Tester
Google provides an online testing tool to assess the suitability of your website for mobile devices.
- Test you site now here – Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool.
Google Penalties for sites that are not Mobile Friendly
Google announced in April 2015 that they will be penalising websites for not being mobile friendly.
Separate Mobile Site or Responsive Web Design (RWD)?
There are 2 basic solutions:
- A separate site just for mobiles –
many hosting companies offer this solution for a small monthly fee. The mobile site is usually a basic template site with very limited content aimed at just contact details and not much else. Its a poor choice. It leaves you with 2 different sites and it is not the option google recommends. But it means it can be done cheaply and easily. Unfortunately some phones have now realised this is a poor fix and sends you to the full main site regardless. So I do not recommend this option.
- Rebuild the site to be “responsive” –
basically this means one site that reacts to screen size and re-organises the presentation to suit and includes touch screen features. So text becomes bigger, more white space is added, 3 columns re-organise to one column on small screens, images change size if required, a mobile touch menu replaces the full desktop menu etc. It tends to mean a much more clean, open and larger design. Unfortunately this is not a quick fix – it is close to starting again with all the design and coding considerations – but it is the right solution and the one Google recommends. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress then you will need a new theme that is “responsive”.
What about apps?
Apps turn the normal web proposition inside out. Normally we use a standard generic browser to surf the internet and web pages compete for your interest by design, search engine optimisation and marketing.
If you download and use an app it captures your full attention and excludes the competition. They are purpose built and features work as programmed. They concentrate specifically on providing functionality purpose built for use on a mobile phone. They are not websites but offer an alternative approach.
For most small businesses they are not appropriate. Just ask yourself – why would people download and use my app rather than my website?
We aim to be friendly and informative, providing all the support and guidance you need to steer you clearly and effectively through the web design process and ensure that you end up with a great website.
If you need help with your website please feel free to give me a ring. Regards
Michael Spencer, Web Designer and WordPress Specialist.
firstname.lastname@example.org – 01263 722058
Epsilis Website Designers – Mundesley, Norwich, Norfolk and Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire