Mobile first: 8 tips on how to optimize your website for mobile

The number of smartphone users is increasing every year. Well over 50% of the population in Germany now own a smartphone and integrate it into their daily routines. Last but not least, this is also evident in Internet user behavior. Users no longer only surf on their mobile phones when they are on the move, but increasingly also from home. A mobile optimized website is therefore an absolute must in this day and age . Find out here how you can get your website ready for mobile users with just 8 tips.

What is mobile optimization?

The aim of mobile optimization is to ensure that web content on mobile devices is prepared in a user-friendly manner and so that it adapts to changed user behavior. There are basically three different options available for this.

  • Responsive web design:

Web content automatically adapts to the respective end device without having to maintain different versions of the website.

  • Own mobile website: 

In addition to the desktop version, a second version of the website will be built, which will be geared towards mobile devices.

  • App:

An app specially developed for mobile devices is intended to provide users with the right content.

Why is mobile optimization so important?

While fewer and fewer users are accessing the Internet via desktop devices, more and more mobile users are being used, making the cell phone the preferred device for Internet use . Users who access your website via their smartphone have a different approachssettlements. They have a smaller screen, navigate via touchscreen and much more. This results in completely different requirements for your website – but more on that later.

Mobile optimization is not only relevant from the user’s point of view. The search engine giant Google is also taking the side of mobile devices. In the meantime, “mobile-friendly” is no longer just one of numerous ranking factors for Google . Since 2018, Google has preferred to index the mobile version of a website , although this only affects around 70% of all websites so far. From the end of March 2021 , however , Google plans to switch completely to mobile-first indexing.

In order to do justice to these conditions, your goal should be to create a mobile-optimized website. Ideally, you agree your content from the beginning already to the use of mobile devices and does not are optimizing it until after the fact. In the following we reveal 8 tips for your mobile website.

Tip # 1: use  responsive web design

As mentioned at the beginning, there are numerous ways to optimize a website from a technical point of view for mobile devices. Responsive web design is the standard solution these days and the variant recommended by Google itself.

The HTML code and CSS always stay the same and the responsive web design automatically adapts the content and layout to the different end devices . This way, you can ensure that every device has the same user-friendliness.

Another big advantage of responsive web design is the low maintenance required . Since all versions of a page run via the same URL, you only have to maintain one version of the page at a time. This eliminates the annoying waiting for different content for the various end devices.

Responsive web design is also recommended from an SEO perspective, as problems with duplicate content and link juice distribution can be avoided. In addition, possible errors that otherwise often occur when redirecting the desktop page to the mobile URL are avoided from the outset.

Tip  # 2 : Include user needs and habits

In order for you to be able to optimize your website for mobile use, it is important to understand the context in which the users access your content. Even if many people now also use their smartphones to surf from home, the average mobile user still uses the Internet while on the go. So he wants to get the information he needs quickly and easily .

This results in the following framework conditions :

  • The cellular network usually has less bandwidth
  • The user navigates with his finger and not with a mouse
  • Mobile devices have a limited display size
  • The display is usually oriented vertically
  • The duration of the session is rather short

On mobile devices it is therefore once again important to make navigation routes as short as possible . If the user has to click several times to get to the desired page, he is quickly annoyed and may leave the website again. To avoid this problem, it is advisable to link the most important pages in the menu and offer the user a filter and / or search function. In this way you make sure that everyone gets to the information they are looking for as quickly as possible .

Tip  # 3 : Adapt the display area to mobile devices

Due to the changed display size, layout and formatting play a particularly important role in mobile optimization. First of all, it is important that you determine a suitable display area. If this is not set correctly or not at all, the user has to scroll horizontally in order to be able to read all of the content.

If you want to create a mobile-optimized website , you have to configure a suitable display area with the corresponding meta tags. In addition, do not use a display area with a fixed width , because then the page cannot be optimally adapted to the different display sizes.

Last but not least, the display area also affects the font size. If this is not set correctly, the page size is not reduced on mobile devices and the font is therefore too small . In principle, the font size should be set so that the text is still legible even on a small display – the user shouldn’t have to zoom in to read the content. The recommendation is a font size of at least 16 pixels .

Tip  # 4 : Arrange touch elements and images correctly

So that the user can easily navigate your site, the arrangement and size of the touch elements must be taken into account. Elements such as buttons, links and the like must be far enough apart so that a click does not accidentally open another page. Also make sure that the touch elements are big enough that they can be clicked with your finger – the recommendation is 44 pixels .

Also, be careful with pictures. They may look nice on the desktop and loosen up the text, but on the smartphone they can quickly lead to a flood of images. Photos and graphics should never displace the text in any way or make it difficult to read. Behind matter of hours , alb always whether an image is really necessary and it offers or added value for the user not.

Tip  # 5 : Avoid interstitials and other intrusive advertisements

Interstitials are large advertisements that are usually opened at the beginning of a page view. They are triggered as soon as a user visits a website or clicks on a certain link or area on the website. The user either has to close them himself or wait a certain period of time until they disappear again by themselves.

Interstitials may be good for advertising purposes, but from a user perspective they are to be judged as negative , because they block parts or even all of the content. If these are poorly implemented, the user hardly manages to close them and leaves the website in frustration. Therefore, it is better to use a banner in the header area that does not prevent your users from seeing important content.

Tip  # 6 : Minimize loading times

When it comes to loading time, every second counts on both desktop and mobile devices. In the case of the latter, this problem is even exacerbated. Because after just 3 seconds , according to Google, the bounce rate increases enormously. In addition, there is often poorer internet on many cell phones – another reason to keep the mobile version of your website as “lean” as possible.

But how can loading times be minimized? Here are a few tips to avoid unnecessary loading times:

  • Remove Javascript or CSS that is blocking rendering
  • Use browser caching.
  • Compress images even more
  • Remove redundant HTML code
  • Avoid additional animations, sound files, etc.
  • Use lazy loading

You can also use GooglePageSpeed ​​Insights to test the loading time of your mobile website. There you can find out where possible problems lie. The tool also gives you valuable recommendations on how to optimize the loading time of your page.

Tip  # 7 : Make the page crawlable

Your website not only has to be user-friendly for the user, but also crawlable for the Googlebot. This means that all of your content should be readable, evaluable and, if necessary, indexable for Google .

First of all, make sure that the content on desktop and mobile matches. Use the same meta robots tags and structured data on all devices. Choose video formats that can be played on the various devices and are not tied to specific software providers or licenses.

Also, make sure that lazy-loading content is visible to the Google bot. These must not only become visible after a user interaction, otherwise Google cannot crawl them. The best thing to do is to avoid lazy loading for important content entirely.

Tip  # 8 : Take the mobile test

Did you make it and your website is finally optimized for mobile devices? Then you should test now that everything works and that you haven’t overlooked anything. Various tools give you the opportunity to find out whether your site is mobile-friendly or not . You can either use it to do a final check or to collect initial ideas for mobile optimization.

Google itself offers such a mobile-friendly test . All you have to do is enter the URL of your website in the input field above and start the analysis. The tool then informs you about problems such as long loading times, availability problems, etc.

The Google Search Console also provides information on the user-friendliness of your website under the item “User-friendliness on mobile devices”. There you will find any error messages if there are problems with the mobile display. The following errors are recognized:

  • incompatible plug-ins
  • View area not set
  • Display area not set for device width
  • Content wider than screen
  • Text is too small to read
  • Clickable elements are too close together

TIP

Use the URL checking tool in the Google Search Console and find out if there are any problems with crawlability and indexing.

CONCLUSION: Mobile Friendly Website Know How

An ever-changing user behavior and the workings of Google make it necessary that you optimize your site for mobile devices – by now you should know. By adapting the layout and formatting as well as technical aspects of your website to the framework conditions of mobile Internet users, you ensure that your new online presence is user-friendly on all devices . With these 8 tips, nothing stands in the way of your online success!

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