Mobile Usability basically describes how accommodating your website is to mobile users – and is an absolute must-have. Why? And how can you optimize your website accordingly? Read our article and find out!
Table of Contents
- What is Mobile Optimization?
- Why Implement Mobile Optimization?
- 3 Ways to Mobile Optimization
- The Impact of Mobile Optimization on SEO
What is Mobile Optimization?
Mobile optimization paves the way to excellent mobile usability. The goal is to optimize your website in such a fashion that the user experience on mobile devices is as smooth as possible.
Why Implement Mobile Optimization?
The mobile optimization of websites has gained a lot of importance in recent years – and with good reason. Nowadays, mobile internet access accounts for more than half of web traffic worldwide. Google is aware of this and adjusts their search engine accordingly. More on SEO later.
Differences Desktop vs. Mobile
The differences between a smartphone and a desktop PC are huge:
- different screen size: 5 inch vs. 24 inch
- different orientation: portrait vs. landscape
- different handling: touch vs. mouse/touchpad
- different network connection: potentially lower bandwidth with dropouts vs. DSL line
- different operating systems/technologies: iOS for example doesn’t support the already outdated flash technology
We recommend investing time in mobile usability and mobile optimization before the relaunch or redesign of your website. Luckily, there are a series of programs and frameworks available that facilitate the optimization of your website for mobile use.
3 Ways to Mobile Optimization
In general, three ways lead to a better mobile usability. However, we can only really recommend using a responsive design. The first two ways still represent viable alternatives.
1. Way: Different URLs
This approach essentially provides two completely different websites. Let’s assume that the URL of your normal website looks like this:
The URL for your mobile Version would then differ slightly:
All users that access your website from a smartphone will get redirected to m.yourwebsite.com – either automatically or upon request. This approach has three disadvantages:
- You will have to maintain two websites
- The reciprocal redirection can be a source of errors
- Way more complex when it comes to SEO
2. Way: Dynamic Serving
In contrast to the first way, dynamic serving delivers a single URL (www.yourwebsite.com) to all devices. For each element of your website you can then decide if it shall be visible or remain hidden for a certain kind of device. This allows you to show smartphone users a slimmed down version of your website – all while using the same URL. Therefore, this eliminates the main disadvantages of the first way.
3. Way: Responsive Design (recommended!)
The ideal solution uses a responsive design, or more precisely a responsive webdesign. The key here is that your website is reactive and will adjust according to the device in question. Your website can for example be programmed to react to the width of the browser window. The navigation menu is then collapsed to the so-called hamburger button that expands by tipping on it.
Feel free to experiment with this website. If you make the browser window smaller, the content shrinks. At some point, the sidebar will be moved downwards to increase readability. And the menu is transformed into the hamburger button.
Responsive design leads the way to an optimal mobile usability. All content will be served using a single URL. In this process, the layout and size of the different elements will be adjusted to the screen size in question. The mobile view fully compares to desktop view and presents no slimmed down version. The next paragraph reveals, why this is so important.
Impacts of Mobile Optimization on SEO
At the beginning we mentioned that internet access from smartphones and tablets accounts for more than half of web traffic worldwide. Google reacted to this trend back in 2015 by including mobile usability as a ranking factor. So, what does this mean for you? The better your website is optimized for mobile devices, the easier you will achieve a higher rank (and vice versa).
Google took this a step further in 2018 by introducing the Mobile First Index. This means that Google primarily considers the mobile version of a website when it comes to indexing and ranking. Already existing websites will be adjusted to mobile first step by step. This started in 2018 and will likely continue well into 2021. The Google Search Console reveals whether your website was already adjusted.
Google itself states the following in their Documentation on Mobile-First Indexing:
WARNING: If it’s your intention that the mobile page should have less content than the desktop page, you can expect some traffic loss when your site is enabled mobile-first indexing, since Google can’t get as much information from your page as before.
from Google, last opened the 23.10.2020
So, don’t waste any time if your website isn’t optimized for mobile use yet. If you want to learn more about ranking higher, check out our article on Website Optimization for Google.