We have been saying for quite some time that the shift toward mobile devices is absolutely revolutionary across all online channels. It is no less than a tectonic movement, and is one that is shaking up the internet. Earlier this year, the number of searches on mobile devices surpassed PCs for the first time. In a world where many businesses are still struggling to comprehend the importance of mobile use, 1.75 billion consumers worldwide used smartphones in 2014.
As you read this, Google has fully implemented the new “mobile-friendly” label as part of its mobile search results. To qualify for this label, the GoogleBot must detect the following criteria on your website:
- Site avoids the use of software that is not common on mobile devices, i.e. Flash or Java
- Site uses text that is readable without manually zooming in and out
- Site sizes its content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll
- Site places links far enough apart so that each may be tapped easily
In a nutshell, what does this mean to design for mobile?
How would you design your website if it ONLY would appear on mobile phones?
Google also recently announced a new feature for Google Webmaster Tools that tracks common usability issues on mobile devices. The tool alerts you to problems with the criteria listed above. Google would not introduce a tool like this without the implication that, in the near future, these elements will become part of Google’s ranking algorithm. You can test your site’s “friendliness” at Mobile-Friendly Test. The test even shows you an example of how your site looks on a smartphone.
When developing a website to be seen on a mobile device, simplicity is crucial. The interface must be clean, without extraneous text, graphics or video. These types of add-ons will only serve to slow down your load time. Short and sweet content, the use of conventional mobile icons, images that are optimized for responsiveness, all of these elements are going to make the user experience far more positive on your mobile site. And don’t forget fat fingers! Those buttons need to accommodate ALL finger sizes, not just those that are “piano fingers.”
Also, don’t forget that one of the best features of mobile devices is that a potential customer may simply call you or get GPS directions to you directly from your website as they are viewing it. That is IF they can find your phone number and address! Placement, font size and color of your basic information should always be taken into consideration for mobile use.
With all of this in mind, the time has come to consider implementing mobile responsive design at the beginning of the creation process instead of going back later to enhance a site’s mobile-ability Simply resizing a website to fit on a small screen or assuming that the customer will pinch or zoom the view on their device is not enough to satisfy those who may never view your website any other way.
Stop resisting. The future and the present IS mobile. Start your design with this in mind this and you will have a clean, simple and responsive site that looks great and is easy to use, no matter what size the screen, or finger. You’ll be glad that you did.