How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Optimizing your website for mobile users is not simply a trend. Now it’s an obligation for every online store owner. We’ve already listed domination of mobile traffic among the hottest ecommerce trends of 2016, as there’s all reason to believe that more and more shoppers will opt for purchasing goods and services via mobile devices. Researches have shown that around half of users won’t return to an online store if it’s not mobile-friendly. Moreover, in early 2015 Google announced a change to its “Mobilegeddon” algorithm to cut down traffic for websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. So if you still haven’t put any effort into making your website mobile-friendly, it’s time you do so, as you’ll be losing both potential customers and Google ranking positions. In this article we describe two most common ways of accomplishing this task.

Mobile Compatibility Check

Before you start creating a brand new, mobile-friendly version of your website, it’s a good idea to check the pages of your existing website for mobile compatibility. Maybe, things aren’t as bad as they seem after all. Google offers free test for mobile-friendliness. To complete them just follow these links (Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights), and paste your URL in the fields. In a matter of seconds you’ll know whether your website is already performing well on mobile devices and where you can improve.

Step 1: Prioritization

Now that you’ve checked your online store for mobile compatibility, it’s time you start thinking about improving your user experience. Whether you’ll do it the cheap and easy way, or opt for a more expensive mobile solution, you’ll need to do some prioritization first. By that we mean that several parts of your content will have to be left behind for your mobile website to work well. You’ll only have to leave the most important features and the most common task the user performs. For 48% of mobile shoppers the ease of use is the most important quality of a website, so you’ll have to keep it in mind.

The Old-Fashioned Way: Mobile Version of Current Website

Creating a mobile version of your current website is often considered the simplest, hence, the cheapest way of providing your users with mobile experience. It’s known to be an affordable solution, as there are plenty of platforms, like bMobilized, Duda Mobile, MobifyMofuse, or Wirenode, that help in accomplishing this task. These platforms ensure that your site features and content will load properly on mobile devices. The price can be as low as $13.00 per month, but that would only apply to simple 10-page websites. However, the cheap way isn’t always the best way. If your store is packed with customized elements and you’ve already put some effort into its unique design and features, in all likelihood you’ll need your mobile version designed from scratch. Whether you’ll hire a team of developers or rely on platforms, such as described above, be aware that creating a mobile version of your website means you’ll have 2 separate stores (mobile and desktop). They might look the same to a consumer, but will still both demand maintenance and content updates. So whenever you’ll want to update your information, you’ll have to do it twice.

CMS Plugins

If your website runs on one of the popular content management systems, such as Joomla, WordPress or Drupal, you can download and install a plugin to make your website mobile-friendly. These plugins might include additional options allowing you to not only customize your content, but also incorporate more advanced mobile-friendly features.

The Popular Way: Recommended by Google

Another popular option for making you website mobile-friendly is using responsive web design. It implies that your website will stay the same and will simply adjust to various screen sizes. The URLs and the code will not be changed dramatically and you won’t need to maintain two separate websites on two domains. According to Google, this type of design is recommended over other patterns. It’s also rather affordable, compared to creating a mobile app. You can get responsive design for your online store for a few thousand dollars.

Tip 1: Avoid Flash

Whether you choose to have a separate website for mobile devices, or opt for responsive design there are a few general rules of mobile-friendliness you should keep in mind. One of them is avoiding Flash elements. Most websites, including YouTube, have already dropped Flash embeds, because the plugin keeps crushing and constantly demands updates. If you have Flash elements on your store’s desktop version it might be OK, but transferring them to a mobile version is definitely a no-no. These elements just won’t load on mobile devices properly. Simplicity is the core of responsive design and you’ll need to stick to simple layouts and code patterns.

Tip 2: Avoid Autofixed Positioning

If your website has fixed elements, such as headers, footers, or sidebars, keep in mind that once zoomed in they can obscure the screen. To avoid it simply disable the fixed positioning when your website is accessed via mobile devices.

Does Your Business Need a Mobile App?

If you’re not new to online marketing and have already tried working with development and marketing agencies to assist you in maintenance or promotion, you’ve probably had at least one offer for creating a mobile application for your website. Indeed, mobile app development is on the rise, and is likely to be one of the most popular ecommerce trends for the next few years. But here’s what you need to know about it – if everyone is doing it now doesn’t mean you should. The necessity of creating a mobile app depends solely on the scale and on the type of your business. First of all it’s expensive. Prices for creating a mobile app start from $15,000 and can easily go above $25,000. Secondly, it’s not a solution every store needs. Mobile apps are good for performing specific tasks, such as booking airplane flights, scheduling or making other reservations. It’s also a good option if you need to send alerts to your customers’ mobile devices. But in the vast majority of cases, a website optimized for mobile experience works just as good as a mobile app.

Find out more helpful tips on MavenEcommerce Blog.

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