30 May Best Practices for Mobile Optimization
The mobile experience is an important consideration for any brand. More users than ever are browsing on mobile as their primary devices. We are in the mobile-first era, and a website that doesn’t cut it on phones and tablets is going to hold your brand back. Below are several of the most useful techniques for ensuring your website is mobile optimized.
Mobile optimization used to mean creating a separate website specifically designed for mobile. This was often relegated to a subdomain such as m.example.com.
In the mobile-first era, this strategy is not only wasteful, but it is also downright antiquated. Instead, use a responsive approach to design that is screen-agnostic. In other words, the same page should display correctly and optimally at every resolution.
Different categories of resolutions may have slightly tweaked layouts. These layout groupings help with ensuring your website is mobile optimized at every screen size. However, these are all handled by the same webpage.
From an SEO perspective, a responsive design removes the need for replicated content. This can help you to rank better on search result pages.
Keep the Fold in Mind
Conventional website design practices for users browsing on laptops and desktops highlighted the importance of content above the fold. This is the content that appears on the screen without the need to scroll further down the page. The term is derived from newspapers, which have a literal fold to contend with.
This ideal may seem outdated in the mobile-first era because there is no way to fit all your important content above the fold on mobile. However, the concept still matters. As always, you need to entice your visitors into reading on with the content above the fold. Make sure there is text content that will engage visitors as soon as they open your site.
Use Code Rather Than Images
Websites render faster and are more reactive to user input when they don’t have lots of images to load. This is especially important in mobile optimization. Lots of images on a cellular data connection could make the website intolerably slow for some users.
However, graphical content is still important because people don’t simply want to read blocks of text. Fortunately, you can achieve a lot of attractive designs using only code. As the mobile-first era has progressed, so too have the languages and tools used to design web content. This makes it easier to ensure your website is mobile optimized.
When you approach a decision for your web content, try to keep your full audience in mind. The conventional approach was to design a desktop website, then make a mobile version of it. This treats mobile users as second-class visitors and invariably leads to a less-than-ideal mobile experience.
Of course, the reverse isn’t preferable. While we are living in the mobile-first era, desktop and laptop users still visit websites every day.
The superior approach is to think through each decision in terms of how it affects every screen size. This method of decision-making helps not only with ensuring your website is mobile optimized but that desktop is optimized as well.
Customize for Mobile With the Right Tools
If you are using a content management system such as WordPress, take advantage of the tools available to make mobile optimization easier. There are many great plug-ins to help minify HTML and CSS and optimize to work better on small screens. They can do a lot of the work for you.
Be Careful With Ads and Interstitials
Sometimes more aggressive online selling tactics work. Intrusive ads and interstitials can get results. However, they really have no place on the mobile screen. With limited real estate, anything popping up is only going to obstruct your main content and damage your brand. Keep your more intrusive content to a minimum and try to limit it to areas of the site that won’t interrupt the user experience too much.
Quality assurance testing is an important part of product development. It is also an essential part of website development. Check for errors and issues on your site across a range of devices. Small issues can balloon when they appear on small screens.
Also look for bugs in your code that slow down loading times. Errors that may go unnoticed on desktop can make your mobile layout frustratingly cumbersome to use.
Take Out the Flash
Most websites no longer use Flash anyway. However, if yours still does, it is time to transition away. Many mobile devices struggle with or don’t support Flash. HTML5 video is a superior option in the mobile-first era. This isn’t just about ensuring your website is mobile optimized but about ensuring it will display at all.
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