10 Points to Check for Mobile Website Optimization

Mobile website optimization is the process of developing websites to ensure that they perform well on mobile devices, as much as they do on desktops. If you are designing a website, it’s crucial to consider mobile accessibility, as it makes it easier to reach your target users.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of mobile website optimization and some of the best practices that website developers should keep in mind.

Why is mobile optimization important for a website?

In today’s internet landscape, mobile usage remains dominant. In fact, a review of top website statistics shows that:

  • 58.99% of all web traffic comes through mobile phones (as of Q2 2022)
  • In North America, 51.2% of web traffic comes from mobile devices
  • 74% of internet users will return to a mobile-friendly website
  • Users are 67% more likely to make a purchase if the website is mobile-friendly

These figures alone reinforce the significance of optimizing websites, since designing them to be mobile-friendly is important for the following reasons:

Brand credibility

Mobile website optimization is important because it can build credibility for a company. This can even help in attracting investors for startup companies since mobile-friendly websites convey a company’s dedication to innovation and professionalism.

These trends on mobile access have led to companies increasing their focus on mobile optimization, with 48% of small businesses also developing a mobile app to accompany their website.

User accessibility

Another reason to make your website accessible to users across different devices is to improve user accessibility, which results in optimal user experience (UX). For businesses, this can also mean improving their market reach. 

Due to the better UX it provides, mobile-friendliness can even encourage users to become returning visitors to a website. This in turn can increase conversion rates and overall customer satisfaction.

Search visibility

Finally, optimizing mobile sites is important if you want your pages to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is a particularly important factor for Google when they updated their algorithms to include mobile-first indexing. 

Given these benefits, we now turn to some points to check for mobile website optimization.

What are some tips for making a mobile-optimized website?

1. Create a responsive design

Web developers can build a website to be mobile-friendly by choosing a responsive template, or a layout that can adapt to different screen sizes, resolutions, and devices. This also means ensuring that the website can quickly shift from portrait to landscape mode, so that it looks and functions well on various mobile screens.

Setting up a responsive design includes optimizing your viewport meta tag. Without it, the visible area of your webpage (the viewport) will display on mobile devices in a similar manner as it does on desktops. The meta tag allows developers to control the viewport’s scale and instructs the browser to resize the web page width depending on the screen size it is viewed on.

The viewport meta tag is one of the simplest ways to make your website responsive. Simply insert the following code into your HTML:

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

Aside from being one of the essential skills for website development, creating a responsive website design is recommended by Google for mobile optimization since it’s the easiest configuration to implement. Additionally, a responsive design serves the same HTML code on the same URL no matter what device users are on.

However, it’s still possible to make your website mobile responsive even if it uses separate URLs for different devices.

2. Monitor possible separate URLs

In case your website uses separate URLs for the desktop and mobile versions of its pages (known otherwise as m-dot), here are some tips for this specific configuration:

  • The error page status must be similar for both the desktop and mobile versions. For example, if the desktop version is working normally but the mobile version is serving an error page, that page will be removed from the index.
  • The mobile version of your website must not have fragment URLs. This is because pages with fragment URLs are not indexable for the most part, even after your domain has been enabled for mobile-first indexing. A fragment part is the section at the end of the URL that begins with #.
  • Desktop versions with different content should still have equivalents on mobile. If you use different URLs to redirect to the same URL, then these pages can be de-indexed after enabling your domain for mobile-first indexing. For instance, multilingual websites that use hreflang links on mobile URLs must only connect to mobile URLs. Similarly, desktop URL hreflang must only point to desktop URLs.
  • The robot.txt rules should still work as intended for both versions of the website. You can use the same robot.txt rules for both versions of your website so that you are consistent with your crawling specifications.
  • The website version must be designated as the canonical version. Since both versions of your website are technically duplicates of each other, always tag your desktop version as rel=canonical and your mobile version as the rel=alternate.

3. Enhance site speed

Around half of visitors tend to leave a website if its pages do not load within 2-3 seconds. This applies to mobile websites, where loading speed can impact user experience and satisfaction.

To avoid increasing your bounce rate and provide a positive experience for users, it’s crucial to ensure that your mobile website’s speed meets user expectations. Some ways that you can do this include removing unused widgets and irrelevant plugins.

Another way is to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This speeds up the load times of mobile sites and can compress your site data up to eight times, resulting in faster loading speeds.

It’s further advisable to check your current web hosting plan, in case it could be causing slower load times because your website has already outgrown it.

4. Choose HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript

As the newest version of HTML, the benefits of using HTML5 include the capabilities of Adobe Flash (minus plugins). Adobe Flash may be known for its useful plugins, but it’s also known to make websites slower. In addition, Flash is no longer supported by major search engines and mobile devices since Adobe ceased its development in December 2020.

Instead, it’s recommended that web developers use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to make mobile-friendly sites. JavaScript can be used to further improve user experience and interactivity. However, take care in using JavaScript excessively on mobile websites because it runs differently across various browsers and devices. Consider substituting bulky JavaScript such as jQuery Mobile with standalone JavaScript instead.

On the other hand, use CSS to lay out your web page and resize the viewport for different devices. Don’t forget to compress your CSS and JavaScript files to boost website speed.

5. Make navigation smooth

Optimal user experience involves having a good user interface. This can be challenging on mobile devices because the smaller screen can make it difficult for users to find what they are looking for. If this becomes too frustrating, users may end up leaving the site altogether.

Including a fully operational search function is an indispensable feature for seamless navigation, particularly for e-commerce websites. Potential customers will be able to find your products more quickly, and this helps make their customer journey more effortless.

Keep in mind as well that mobile users may navigate websites by just using one hand, and with their thumb. Avoid navigation actions that will require users to pinch their screen with their other fingers, or use their second hand.

Finally, make it easy for users to locate your name, address, and phone number (NAP). Users may even prefer other details such as the store hours or the nearest store branch.

6. Simplify user actions

In connection with smooth navigation, your mobile-optimized site should make it quick and straightforward for users to complete calls to action (CTAs). This involves common tasks such as contacting companies or purchasing products. 

Make it clear for users to see and interact with your CTAs by making them distinct from the rest of the site’s elements. The text on CTAs should be readable, and buttons should be easy to select even for users with bigger fingers. To achieve this, allot at least 45 pixels of space for your site’s selection areas or tap elements. This likewise prevents any accidental taps from the user on other CTAs they didn’t intend to select.

When it comes to completing forms, having several required fields can cause mobile optimization issues. It’s best to minimize the number of steps it takes to complete a transaction. This can be accomplished by requesting the minimum amount of information from users through applying auto-fill suggestions. For instance, if GPS is accessible to the website, make use of this technology by prepopulating the user’s city, state, and ZIP code.

Remember to turn off the autocorrect feature on all form fields as well, to avoid changing users’ names and addresses into common words. Add autocorrect=”off” in the input field of your HTML, which should afterward look like this:

<input spellcheck=”false” autocorrect=”off” type=”text” />

7. Streamline site content

Because of the limited space on mobile screens, your mobile site content needs to be as concise as possible. To keep your users’ attention as they scroll through text, make it more readable by breaking it into shorter paragraphs and bullet points.

Minimize the contents of your home page by limiting the number of articles on that page to around 5-10 posts. Help your visitors further navigate your website better by keeping everything simple and visible to users without having to zoom in.

For example, the navigation bar can be collapsed into a hamburger or drop-down menu to keep the page compact. In addition to using the hamburger menu icon, adopt other conventional mobile icons in place of words such as “tap to call” or “click to proceed.”

Pop-ups can also harm user experience and lower the chances for mobile conversions. On mobile screens, pop-ups are more difficult to close since they may not even be visible to users. If you must include pop-ups, design clear CTA buttons and implement them only when the reader scrolls down through 70–80% of the page.

8. Use mobile-friendly media

To further enhance the loading time for your mobile-friendly website, optimize the media you will use. Compress images, videos, and other media to reduce file sizes without compromising on their quality.

Videos are a must-have for mobile websites, considering that consumers on mobile devices are thrice more likely to watch videos than users on desktops. However, videos are heavy media files that can slow your site down.

Use a lightweight video player that doesn’t consume significant bandwidth and processing resources. Consider using HTML5 video players to ensure that it can play on most mobile devices. You can also opt to use third-party websites for hosting your video content, and then embed them on your side instead.

Think about the fonts used for your text as well. Custom fonts may prompt your user to download the new font to their devices, giving them an excuse to leave the site. Use standard fonts such as Arial, Verdana, and Georgia, which generally don’t need to be downloaded by mobile devices.

9. Test regularly

Once you’ve implemented the best practices to optimize your website for mobile, remember to revisit them with regular testing. This is the best way to handle possible issues on actual mobile devices in a hands-on manner.

When testing your website for mobile optimization, remember to run every user scenario on as many browser-device-operating system combinations as possible. This allows you to monitor the progress of optimizing your mobile site, to see if it’s performing as expected. Your website’s code and plugins may also become obsolete as new updates are rolled out, so including mobile optimization tests on your regular website maintenance is a must to keep it working in top condition.

10. Employ optimization tools

When developing sites for mobile optimization, it’s essential to utilize tools. These work hand-in-hand with mobile optimization processes to make web development more efficient.

There are several tools that are useful during different stages of mobile web development, and you will need to use more than one if you want to ensure that mobile users are experiencing your site as intended. Some tools are relatively easy to learn more than others, and some even provide free trials or packages. 

Take the time to study the top tools used to make a website mobile-friendly and maximize their benefits. Choose the tools that are best suited to your site, and remember to always be on the lookout for updates on new features and tools that will become available in the future.

Optimize websites for mobile using the best practices

In today’s mobile era, it’s vital for web developers to include mobile optimization in their process. Apart from the majority of internet users bringing in web traffic through their mobile phones, websites can benefit from the advantages of mobile optimization in terms of brand credibility, user accessibility, and search visibility.

To recap, the following are some tips for making a mobile-optimized website:

  • Create a responsive design
  • Monitor possible separate URLs
  • Enhance site speed
  • Choose HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Make navigation smooth
  • Simplify user actions
  • ​​Streamline site content
  • Use mobile-friendly media
  • Test regularly
  • Employ optimization tools

Browse the back4app blog for more information on best practices that developers can use for websites, apps, and more.

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