7 Staggeringly Easy Ways to Optimize Your Site for Mobile Users
As mobile browsing has definitively surpassed desktop browsing in recent years, it's vital to take mobile users seriously. If you don't have a mobile optimized site, you're leaving the newest and fastest growing segment of the e-commerce population behind. You're relying on a quickly shrinking market to build your audience.
Here are seven ways you can optimize your site for mobile users today.
1. Size Images Appropriately
When your customers are looking at your website, they're going to want to see images of your products and services. However, you can easily shoot yourself in the foot if you're not careful with how you put images on your site.
Lots of novice web designers and business owners will take fantastic high-quality images and upload them straight to their website. The impulse is understandable and their heart is in the right place. However, that's a one-way ticket to creating a site that doesn't load on mobile devices.
You need to set a maximum height and width for the images that you put on your site. They need to be taken in landscape mode and they need to centralize the subject. When you make it hard to see the subject of the photo, you make it hard to sell to your visitors.
Poorly sized images take longer to load. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load on mobile devices, your customers will surf away. Remember, mobile devices don't have wired connections, so the data transfer is always much slower.
2. Keep Text Simple
When you fill your site with long blocks of text, you're going to make it hard for users to get information from your site. Long winded blocks of text will need to take up a lot of space on your site. Otherwise, you'll have viewers scaling and moving the page around just to see what's on it.
Instead of putting text all on your main website, why not create a blog attached to your website. A blog is a great way for you to have text that's automatically formatted to be read on a small screen. Rather than struggling to keep the important text short on your site, redirect visitors to your blog.
A blog is also a great way to attract visitors to your website. By adding a lot of content, you can ensure that you're capturing all kinds of searches that could be related to your products and services.
Blogs give you the opportunity to inject keywords and phrases into your website that will give you a high ranking on search engines. When you drop in geographical locations and information about where you're located, you can help search engines match you to nearby users. This can help you build a local base of customers and clients.
Move complicated text to your blog and start attracting users who are looking for information related to your products and services. You'll free up space and make it easier to navigate your main website.
3. Re-Design It
If you have an older website, you might think you can twiddle a few knobs and fit your website to a smaller screen. However, that's not the case. You don't need to just make your website visible on a small screen, but you need to make it seem designed for that screen.
If you haven't redesigned your site in five years or more, it's time to upgrade.
It's much easier to make a mobile-optimized site fit a computer screen that it is to go in the opposite direction. When you choose the limited canvas of a mobile device, you set boundaries that let you know when you've made your site harder to use.
If it's been a while, consider using a template or a design tool to help you out. Design programs and templates are now optimized to help design mobile sites and apps. They have all of the tools you need to start building your site and be up and running in just a few hours.
Redesigning your site is much easier than putting in a bunch of new lines of code. And since you don't know which code you need for every device that's coming down the pike, put it in the hands of experts. Use a flexible design template to ensure that your site is future-proof.
4. Hide and Simplify Menus
Menus can be the greatest folly for sites that want to look good on mobile devices. Your menu needs to be both easy to use and make everything accessible. It's a delicate dance to get everything to work together.
One of the best new standards for menus is the collapsing menu. When you're not using the menu, it becomes part of a sticky header that hides in the corner with three little lines. Once activated, it slides out and grays out the page around it.
After getting the right configuration for your menu, now it's time to figure out how much information you should have on it. The answer, undoubtedly, is "less".
Follow the three click rule. If anything takes more than two clicks to get there, you should probably get rid of it. all of your information should be two clicks away from the menu.
Throw away submenus, long lists, and detailed information in your menu. That's not the place for it. You need one or two short terms to let people know where you're redirecting them.
If you want mobile users on your site, you need to ensure that your menus are easy to use.
5. Test It
It might go without saying, but too often it feels like it doesn't. You must test your site. Test it with your friend's phone, test it on any tablet you can find, open it up on your desktop.
The more devices you can see your site on, the more faults you can point out.
Be aware that every different browser that you use will cause your site to load differently. Browser rendering capability varies wildly from one operating system to the next.
You could open your site on the current iPhone and the last iPhone. Even if they have the same browser and the same operating system, they might look different. If this is the case, the rules for displaying your site are probably too rigid.
Go back to the drawing board and make sure you make your site more flexible. Browsers are immensely fallible, so you need to do extensive testing before you open your site to the public.
Test every step of the way with as many possible browsers as you can think of. Use every device that you know a customer could possibly use. The more testing you do, the less upkeep you'll have to do later.
6. Use White Space
If it hasn't become abundantly clear, the phrase "keep it simple" should be your mantra for designing your site. While you want to give your visitors everything in your capacity for getting information, seeing products, and learning about services, you need to hold back.
Your site can't be the only thing selling your products and services. Invest in marketing so that when people visit your site, they're not overwhelmed with marketing concepts.
Between social media, the cities people live in, and the way that desktops get cluttered, there's never enough free space. Use white space to your advantage. Giving your products room to breathe ensures that your visitors won't feel pressured to buy and will be able to focus their attention on what you offer.
Fight the urge to cram anything onto your site. White space looks cleaner, more sophisticated, and more professional. You'll also ensure that when someone needs to click a link, they won't worry about clicking the one that's four pixels away.
7. Avoid Pop-ups Like the Plague
Calls to action are important on your site. They give your user something to engage with and can offer something valuable to your customers. However, it seems that everyone wants to try to turn that call into an annoying pop-up.
If pop-ups seem very "Y2K", you're right.
When you're trying to navigate a site and a pop-up appears, it makes that site look less valuable. The sales tactic seems desperate. It also slows download times which can cause you to lose customers.
Opening a new browser window is okay, but use this tactic sparingly as it confuses users and slows loading down.
Mobile Users Should Be A Top Priority
If you're not making the effort to prioritize mobile users on your site, you're going to leave a whole lot of money on the table. Mobile users need to get the same quality of service that you offer your desktop users. As their numbers are quickly growing, you need to put mobile users at the top of your list.
To get traffic that will turn directly into dollars, check out our guide to building organic traffic.