Google and Responsive, Mobile Friendly Websites
On the 21st April Google has publicly stated it will be giving preference in its search results to websites that are “mobile friendly”. This is an interesting development as very rarely does Google give explicit direction in relation to how its algorithms operate. You may have received an email already from Google if you use Webmaster Tools stating “Google systems have tested X pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile friendly by Google search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smart phone users.”
So what does Google mean by “mobile friendly”? A website that is mobile friendly is one that reacts to the device it is being displayed on, so the experience you get is tailored to the size of the device you are using. On a mobile you may experience a condensed menu structure and less images and text, on an iPad, perhaps a different layout. The aim is to increase the usability of a website where a smaller screen is being used to deliver information quickly and effectively.
Should your website be mobile friendly? The direct answer is – yes – but how quickly really depends on whether you believe people are using their mobiles and tablets to access your website. Current statistics show us that mobile browsing has now over-taken desktop browsing so the chances are, if you are not mobile friendly, you are at the very least, missing out on providing a good user experience to your customers. Initially Google has stated it will only be using a mobile friendly weighting on mobile searches, but the general feeling is that it will not take long for this to apply to desktop searches too. How to make your website mobile friendly
The best way to make your website mobile friendly is to create a responsive design. This means the way the website is designed and built allows it to “respond” to the environment it is being displayed within. A responsive design uses percentages to work out how content should be displayed on different size screens. This also allows for some content to be hidden at specific sizes, or for the order of content to change. A quick and easy way to see if a website is responsive is to minimise your browser screen, then drag the screen across your desktop from large to small, if the website is responsive you will see it changing as the screen changes size. Our own website www.maxx-design.co.uk is responsive, so you can try this on our site. Alternatively access our site on a mobile and on your desktop to see the differences.
Do I need to completely rebuild my website? There is not a “one-size fits all” answer to this. It will be possible to change some existing websites to be responsive, but in other cases it might be necessary to redesign and rebuild how a website looks. This might be a good opportunity to review whether your website is still working hard for you, particularly if you have had the same website for over three years. Has your business moved on in that time? Does the content and imagery still represent you well? How can MAXX help? Firstly come and talk to us. We will give you an honest appraisal of your existing website and offer you some options. Then we will help you decide whether this is something you need to respond to quickly or whether you can plan in a mobile friendly redevelopment over time. Don't forget to subscribe for more news! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn!