Tips for Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users

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When you own a website or look to design one for the first time, it’s essential that you understand the differences between designing a standard website and one for mobile users. Many believe that they are relatively similar.

Your mobile customers won’t receive a good user experience unless you optimize your site specifically for mobile devices. This can be a relatively complicated process. Ensure your mobile site is just as easy for customers to use as your standard one.

Some tips that should prove useful:

Make Sure Your Website is Responsive

The first step towards ensuring that your mobile site is a success is by making it responsive. If you don’t know what this means, a responsive site is basically one in which the size of the site responds accordingly to the device used to access it. As such, mobile users find that the website you have designed can be displayed on whichever size screen they view it on, whether 4 inches, 6 inches, or anything in between.

You can optimize your website for this by adding a responsive framework to the design. There are several different options available. These options are usually open-source. This means that they are free for everyone to use. This helps to limit the amount of scrolling that the user needs to do, giving them more time to spend browsing through the content on your site.

Understanding Mobile Users

The key to ensuring that you can optimize your site for mobile users is by first understanding what mobile users look for when browsing a website on their devices. Avoid making a complete copy of your standard site. There is a myriad of aspects of standard design that just don’t mesh well with mobile devices of any kind.

For example, when a mobile user is visiting your “bio” or “about” pages, they don’t want to see endless paragraphs about the roles that each staff member plays a part of in your company or a lengthy statement about your vision for your business. They merely want to view some quick contact information, directions to your location, if you have a physical address, and maybe even a small map pinpointing the addresses of these locations.

This information needs to be precise and to the point. If mobile users want to go in-depth with your website, they will do so once they have access to a desktop computer and can use your standard site. In the meantime, ensure that their mobile needs are satisfied.

Create a Streamlined Site Layout

To back up the point mentioned, the layout for your site needs to be as streamlined and simple as possible for mobile users to navigate your mobile site effortlessly. The thing about mobile devices that you should be aware of is that they don’t contain nearly as much internal memory as a standard computing device. Everything inherently loads at a much slower rate.

As such, make sure to lessen the number of pages you include on your mobile site by placing the most important content on these pages. This allows for users to only click a few times and load a few pages to find everything they need. The layout of your site must be streamlined and focused on simplicity.

This will actually be covered in more detail in a few of the following tips. It’s also important to lessen the number of items you display on one page. The user doesn’t need to scroll too much to reach what they need.

Avoid Common Clutter Issues

When designing any type of website, avoiding common clutter problems is something that many site owners often forget to do. While this is essential for a standard site, it’s all the more important for a mobile one. Users don’t want to have to look at a plethora of different things on one page.

Too much information, images, and links can cause a user to be turned off from your mobile site. This could have a negative effect on your main site, even your brand. Resist the urge to cover every part of a page with something.

Consider utilizing as much white space as possible. White space refers to the portions of a page left unmarked. This gives your site an overall look of simplicity and professionalism. It allows users to be drawn to the most important aspects of each web page.

Connecting Both Standard & Mobile Websites

When a mobile user goes to your mobile website, you want them to immediately be able to identify that the site they are entering is merely the mobile version of your brand. You don’t want customers, either new or returning ones, to visit your site and be completely unfamiliar with what they see. While the content itself needs to be streamlined, the general aesthetic of the design should very much remain the same.

The colors, motifs, and basic templates used with your main site should all be identical between both. In fact, the types of icons you use on your standard site should also be the same. Keeping your user-base for your standard site is essential with a mobile one. It helps to increase traffic and popularize your brand on mobile devices. As such, they should get the same experience on the mobile site whenever they visit.

Keep Site Content as Focused as Possible

The biggest aspect of optimizing your website for mobile users is to make sure that the content within can be easily viewed on a smaller screen. This means that everything must be simplified for the users. As this is the case, you want to go through everything on your main site. Choose to display only the most relevant bits of information on each page.

For example, when writing a blog post, make sure to break up any long walls of text into very small paragraphs with easy-to-read headers. A mobile site is where most users go to quickly browse and purchase. It is up to you to make sure that the user can enter your site and purchase whatever they look to buy as easily and quickly as possible. You want your mobile site to be viewed as a sleek and simple alternative to your main site.

Do Not Incorporate Flash

This is one of the easiest things to overlook when crafting a mobile version of your site. Flash and even JavaScript plugins are not supported on a myriad of different types of phones and mobile devices. In fact, Flash isn’t supported at all by any Apple product, such as an iPhone.

However, this isn’t the only reason why it’s unwise to use these plugins. They can make for some very cumbersome load times for mobile users. That is the opposite of what you want to achieve when designing a mobile site. If you must use Java, make sure to do so sparingly and only when it’s absolutely essential.

Keep Customers From Required Text Entry

While many mobile users are proficient at texting, a sizable portion aren’t, which is why it’s important to cater to them as well. Even with those good at writing quickly on a small mobile keyboard, it can become tiresome and frustrating to fill out a bunch of text entries on a single page. To avoid text entries that a customer needs to fill out, try incorporating clickable checklists, dropdown menus where a user can select from a number of choices, and even pre-populated fields.

If you are unaware, pre-populated fields are text spaces already filled when a user goes to another page. Each of these can prove extremely useful in lessening the amount a user must interact with a single web page. This increases the chances that this user continues browsing through your site and ends up purchasing something.

Eliminate Usage of Pop-up Windows

While streamlining and simplifying your mobile site is important, nothing is more essential for the continued success of your brand than by eliminating intrusive and annoying pop-ups that no one, mobile user or otherwise, likes to deal with. However, while added windows are easy to get to on desktop and laptop devices, they can cause massive slowdown on a mobile device.

You should also be aware of the fact that added windows are always a point of frustration with mobile users. A mobile device is not conducive to switching between multiple tabs. If it is necessary at one or two points within your website, make sure that the user understands how to get back to the original page that they were on. This can be accomplished via an alert.

Include Hyperlinks to Full Site

When designing and optimizing a mobile site, be aware of the fact that mobile users rarely ever look to spend a considerable amount of time on one site. They want to quickly browse through it, decide to purchase something, or sign up for a newsletter, depending on what type of site you run.

However, you want your standard site to be the one that customers spend the most time on. Having a mobile website is not only useful for making sure you attract mobile users as customers. It is also a means of increasing brand awareness and loyal customers. You want to make sure that you include clearly visible links to your full site that a mobile user can access at any time.

These users may also want to view information that you didn’t include in the mobile version of your site. This simple optimization tip can do wonders for creating consistent traffic for both your mobile and full site. Don’t forget to include these links on multiple pages.

Understanding Redirects

Redirecting is important when dealing with the mobile version of your website. In essence, mobile redirecting refers to the act of including a plugin within your site that differentiates between mobile and standard users.

As such, when a mobile user enters the URL to your website, this plugin identifies the fact that the user wants to go to the mobile-optimized version of your site. It does so automatically. This is a simple step in your design process that ensures users don’t become frustrated before entering your site.

Increase Ease of Navigation

Similar to the tips mentioned earlier, ease of navigation for the user is essential if you want to keep old customers and create new ones. One of the key points towards easy navigation is to limit the number of clicks that a person needs to go through when on the mobile-optimized version of your site. For instance, if a person takes a lengthy survey about their experience using your site.

You should do everything you can to avoid instances where a user needs to click or tap on the screen a multitude of times on one page. This isn’t fun or interesting. It only results in a negative experience with your website for the user. In turn, your brand. Excise anything that can damage your brand in any way.

Use Icons Correctly

Icons are important for your full and mobile site. Icons can aid greatly in making your mobile website sleek and sophisticated. Situate them throughout your site in the place of words and use them to connect to another website. They can even take users to your full site.

Direct customers to certain web pages throughout your site. These icons should not be too large but clearly visible. This also helps to give your site a more minimalistic, clean feel. This can make your website more appealing to customers who never used it before.

Increase Web Site Speeds With Images

No matter the type of website you create, using the right images is an all-important facet to giving your brand a personality. However, when optimizing a site for mobile, you need to optimize the images you use as well. While you might like using high-resolution images for your main website, the bandwidth for many mobile users is much smaller than needed to effortlessly run these files.

You need to resize and optimize these images to a lower resolution that all mobile users can load properly when entering your site without them causing longer, more frustrating load times. For example, a mobile resolution can be as low as 240 x 320. You want to keep every user in mind when planning how to incorporate media files into your site.

Integrate Social Networks

Now, integrating social networks into your website, both main and mobile versions, can increase traffic. When a customer likes what they see, all they need to do is click a button to either like your page or write a comment. Upon doing so, all of their friends see this as well. This is an invaluable tactic in bringing in new traffic. Consider placing social network widgets at the top of your web pages, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram is another social network that can add limitless amounts of personality to your mobile site. This specific one focuses primarily on taking pictures already tailored to work on mobile phones. This allows you to forgo any of the difficult work that comes with trying to make certain pictures work efficiently on mobile devices. This could come in handy when writing blog posts that you want to host on your website.

Test Your Mobile Site

Once you complete everything, marvel at all of the optimizations you worked through. The last small bit of optimization that you need to consider is testing your new mobile site. See if it works properly in all areas. The worst thing that can happen when a new mobile site goes online is needing to correct issues that you didn’t know about until placing it into customers’ hands.

To avoid this issue, use a mobile testing tool. See if your site is working correctly in all areas. This includes ensuring the site is completely responsive across all devices, the text is readable on smaller devices, your images, and videos load as intended. Upon accomplishing this goal, you now have a completely optimized mobile website ready to go online.
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Links Web Design is a Website Design Company in Bangor, Maine.

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