A Beginner’s Guide To a Mobile Responsive Website

A Beginner’s Guide To a Mobile Responsive Website
July 22, 2016 Itamar Gero
Mobile Responsive Site - Siteoscope
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It’s amazing how much the online landscape can change in just several years. For instance, almost everyone uses their phones or tablets to surf the web these days. Did you know that mobile internet use surpassed desktops back in 2014? Yet how many websites are actually optimized for these devices?

Many website owners still underestimate the importance of mobile traffic, and have sites that are nearly impossible to browse and use on a smartphone. This is a massive amount of potential business they are throwing away. In fact, they could be ignoring the biggest and most profitable segment of their target market!

Mobile responsive websites get more traffic, have an easier time converting users into paying customers, and rank better in mobile search results. There’s a reason almost every marketing expert recommends having a website optimized for all devices. It’s much more than just another edge over your competitors.

Would your website pass a mobile responsive test? If not, then things need to change. Many people are probably coming to your website, get frustrated at how hard it is to navigate, then hit the back button to try somewhere else. Catering to mobile users has become a necessity if you want your business to grow to its fullest potential.

Mobile Responsive vs. Mobile Optimized vs. Mobile Friendly

Mobile optimization - Siteoscope

Let’s start with some definitions. It’s important to note that people have come up with terms to evaluate how good a website is for mobile use. The most basic threshold is “mobile friendly” – this means that the website’s text is readable even on small devices, but it’s really just a scaled down version of the original design.

This makes the website passable, and people may put up with it, but it’s far from ideal. The next tier is “mobile optimized”, and this is when the owner creates a unique version of the website for mobile devices. All fluff has been removed, the design is clean and minimalistic, images are large, buttons are thumb friendly, and load times have been cut as much as possible.

Lastly, what does mobile responsive mean? It’s when a website has taken all efforts to look great and function perfectly on any screen size. From the tiniest smartphone to the largest widescreen monitor, the page automatically adjusts itself without any input required from the user. Even resizing your browser results in the website changing its appearance to match, making it extremely convenient.

Each tier generally sees a significant difference in user satisfaction. This is especially true for eCommerce stores, where even a minor UI improvement can provide a huge boost to sales. You want the customer’s experience to be seamless from start to finish.

Becoming Responsive: A Webmaster’s Next Steps

Best practices for mobile - Siteoscope

Mobile isn’t going away, and responsiveness is only going to become more important over the years. However, many don’t have the time or resources to rebuild their website from the ground up using mobile responsive CSS code. What’s the fastest and easiest solution? 

  1. Look for a responsive theme –  There are many mobile responsive WordPress themes and templates out there for you to use – some of the best are free. All you need to do is activate them, and your website is immediately mobile compatible. This is more than good enough for most small businesses, and is almost always the simplest solution.
  2. Consider installing plugins – Don’t want to or can’t switch to a new theme? You can add plugins that automatically create mobile versions of your current website. Keep in mind that these might have somewhat limited features, and usually don’t work with all themes. If they are compatible with your current theme, however, plugins are very convenient.
  3. Outsource the work – If all else fails, there are many designers who specialize in modernizing websites and making them mobile responsive. From freelancers to large companies, you’re not starved for options; the key is simply finding the right person for the job.

This is good if you have a decent budget to work with and have specialized needs, but keep in mind that communication is essential. What elements need to be preserved or removed on the mobile version? Which widgets need special attention? You’ll need to be very clear with your priorities, or the resulting website may not be satisfactory.

The fine details of your website’s performance matter if you want to optimize your website for mobile. When it comes to this task, Siteoscope’s tool can provide you the metrics that matter for your mobile strategy. Sign up for a free trial and get data for your site optimization efforts.