Every few years the Internet goes through a massive transformation, often driven by new technology and evolving user behavior. When dial-up was the norm, most commercial websites were static and rigidly designed. Then social media came along, forcing businesses to readapt their online marketing strategies to suit a more centralized audience. Right now we are in the middle of another internet upheaval, and businesses are already taking steps to embrace the dominant online trend: mobile browsing.
Why Small Businesses Need A Mobile-Friendly Website
Before smartphones were commonplace, almost every internet user relied on their desktop to surf the web. Companies optimized their websites for desktop computers, and learned a lot about how customers engage with content using a mouse and keyboard. It was simple back then, during the flip-phone era, as web designers could anticipate how users would interact with their websites — what worked for one user would predictably work for all users. But that was before mobile browsing hit the scene.
New studies suggest that mobile browsing has quickly overtaken desktop browsing as the primary method of online engagement. And with this change comes a host of new challenges for small businesses.
So what’s the big deal? Well, depending on how your website was built, mobile customers may find it difficult to interact with the content you provide. Many web building platforms optimize your website for desktop users, leading to a number of display and sizing issues when it’s accessed via a mobile device. If your small business website is hard to use, mobile customers are less likely to browse and purchase your products and/or services.
Here are just a few of the common issues related to non-mobile-friendly websites:
Website display issues
The biggest problem with websites optimized for desktop is that mobile phones cannot display the web pages as they were intended. The difference in size between computer monitors is usually negligible, but a small cell phone screen just doesn’t have enough room for all the content. The issue is that desktop-optimized websites often do not use reflexive layouts, meaning there is no compromise about how your webpages are displayed.
Wondering if your website has this problem? Using a smartphone, navigate to the homepage of your small business website and see how the mobile browser displays the web page. If your homepage is too large or too small by default, you may need to incorporate mobile-friendly features into your website design.
Content sizing issues
If your website displays incorrectly on mobile devices, your customers will have a hard time interacting with your content. The most common symptoms of non-responsive web design include:
- Text sizes that are too small or too large to be read comfortably
- Navigation links that are difficult to click on
- Embedded images that are improperly displayed
- Formatting errors that disrupt positive user engagement
There is nothing more frustrating for a mobile user than having to constantly zoom-in and zoom-out to resize the web page they’re viewing. The harder it is for your customers to navigate and consume your content, the less likely they are to continue browsing your website. And if customers aren’t willing to browse your website, it’s also unlikely they will be interested in doing business with you. As the first point of contact online, your small business website should provide a welcoming experience for all your digital visitors.
Webpage loading issues
Another important factor with non-reflexive web design has to do with performance. Websites that are optimized for desktop may perform poorly when accessed on a mobile device, leading to longer load times for your web pages. This website “lag” is often the product of incompatibilities between your website’s formatting/design and the user’s mobile web browser. And this is doubly true for fixed layouts and static websites.
Mobile Users Love Responsive Web Design
In this new era of mobile browsing, many business owners are wondering how they can make their website more accommodating for users on smartphones, tablets and other devices. Depending on how your website was created, it may be a lot easier than you expect.
Generally speaking, tailoring your website for mobile browsing does not inconvenience your desktop users. In most cases, thinking about the limitations of your mobile users can help you simplify how your website is formatted and arranged, or how your content is displayed. One easy way to test your website’s mobile-friendliness is by using a mobile site viewer. This online tool can help you identify major flaws in your website’s design that could be disrupting your mobile users’ experience.
The benefit of using a responsive layout is that it automatically adjusts your web pages to fit the dimensions of whatever screen displays it. This feature can resolve most of your content resizing issues, and even reduce your website’s loading time. Many of the most popular web design platforms (like WordPress and Drupal) offer responsive design options that can optimize your website for desktop and mobile browsing. These design options can provide a more consistent user-experience for all of your online customers. But the only way to ensure your website is running at top performance is through accelerated mobile pages.
How Accelerated Mobile Pages Can Boost Your Website’s Performance
Here’s the truth: responsive design alone cannot make the mobile version of your website operate as smoothly as the desktop version. To solve this problem, Google launched an open-sourced initiative called the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP). The goal of this initiative was to create better mobile optimization tools that could be open and available to everyone — no surprise, the project was a success.
Accelerated mobile pages offer high performance and quick loading times that are almost indistinguishable from a desktop user’s experience. This is especially important for websites that sell a product or service directly, as slow load times can discourage mobile customers from following through with their purchases. And the best part? You can apply these tools to the website you already have. Depending on the content management system you use to administer your website, it may be as easy as installing a plugin.
Overall, AMP-optimized websites are:
- Easier to navigate and read
- Quicker to load in mobile browsers
- Higher ranked in search results
- Flexibly formatted to suit every device
- Consistent between mobile and desktop
If you’re looking to optimize your small business website for mobile users, Interactive Palette can help you take full advantage of AMP-enabled technology. We work with you to identify and correct the incompatibilities that may be causing trouble for your mobile customers, both at the design-level and the performance-level. Step into the next stage of online business with accelerated mobile pages and turn your mobile users into mobile customers.
Do you have questions about mobile-friendly web design or accelerated mobile pages? Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our blog posts on the topic.