Enterprising Women Magazine: Size Does Matter in Web Design
By Rachel Durkan
Today, the human attention span is shorter than that of a gold fish. Your website has just 7 seconds to capture your visitors’ attention. So it is not enough that you have a website, you need to have a website that is engaging, quick to load, and communicates your value propositions, service offerings, and a call to action immediately.
The challenge to develop something so compelling has intensified as users are increasingly surfing the web on new and different devices.
Between 2008 and 2015, the time spent per-user per-day using digital media grew 107%. Within that timeframe, time spent surfing the web on a desktop remained consistent; however, mobile use increased 600% and continues to grow an average 58% year over year.
The latest numbers show that while 91% of internet users still browse by laptop or PC, 80% use a smartphone and 47% use a tablet. Yet despite the evidence, only 50% of small business have a website, and most are not mobile friendly.
Building a Mobile Friendly Website
A mobile-friendly website is tailored to deliver a great user experience on smaller screens and tablet devices.
The difference lies in the range of pixels being viewed. Conventional websites built for viewing on a desktop or laptop monitor are between 800 to 1200 pixels wide. Too many pixels for smartphones with a range of 300 to 400 pixels and a tablet’s 600 to 800-pixel range.
So if the site is not “friendly,” users trying to view a 1200-pixel website on their mobile device/tablet see either a tiny image of the entire page that they have to “pinch in” – zoom in and out to view, or they only see part of the page and have to scroll left and right and up and down to view the page content.
New browser technology, called cascading style sheets and div layers, has solved this problem. In laymen’s terms, it recognizes the device being used and allows for the page’s content and design to change in response to the width of the browser.
This approach is called “responsive design.” A responsive design is ideal because it conforms to any device it is being viewed on.
Mobilegeddon and Beyond
Face it: The age of online information is here to stay and being mobile-friendly is more important than ever.
In an effort to boost mobile-friendly sites on mobile searches, Google released a significant mobile-friendly algorithm, commonly referred to in the industry as “Mobilegeddon,” on April 21, 2015. But they didn’t stop there. If a mobile website is not easy to use and navigate and does not load quickly, Google will penalize it by ranking it lower on mobile searches.
Consider that Google processes 40,000 search queries per second. That equates to 3.5 billion a day and 1.2 trillion a year. If your prospects and customers cannot find you online when and where they want to, you are losing sales.
Test Your Mobile Friendliness
The most obvious way to see if your site is mobile friendly is to view it on a smartphone and tablet. Can you read the text and see the pictures without any pinching or scrolling? Can you easily fill out forms, navigate the site and complete tasks?
Here are a few tools to help you test your site’s mobile friendliness:
- Test your speed. The Google tool PageSpeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) measures how quickly your site loads on a desktop and mobile device. It also offers suggestions on how and where you can improve performance.
- See for yourself. Enter your URL into the Responsinator (responsinator.com/) and get a general idea of how your website looks on a variety of mobile devices. While not as accurate as viewing your website on an actual mobile device, this is a quick and easy evaluation tool.
- Track your mobile audience. Connect your site to Google Analytics (google.com/analytics/) to generate data valuable to your marketing decisions, including what devices your site visitors are using, how users are getting to your site, how long they’re staying, the most frequently visited pages, and more.
While tools such as this are helpful, the most important consideration when deciding how to improve your website’s mobile friendliness is this: hire a professional.
No Need to Go It Alone
The most critical component of any plan, regardless of the budget, is the website. In today’s digital world, you can’t execute a successful marketing strategy without it, and it should be a company’s first primary marketing investment.
And because the consumer decision-making process is anything but straightforward; invest with a professional to help you plan strategically and ensure your site delivers the information your customer seeks, quickly, and in an engaging and visually appealing manner regardless of the device they’re viewing it on.