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Accommodating for Mobile Users

By Snap Agency February 20, 2018

Mobile users are becoming more common, and that means that you need to go out of your way to accommodate them as much as possible. Most websites are a terrible experience for mobile users, and that is going to make them reluctant to purchase from you and discourage them from returning to your site.

That’s the exact opposite of what you want to achieve, and therefore you need to ensure that your mobile experience is a good one. In fact, the experience for mobile users should ideally match that of desktop users.

Non-Responsive Sites

The main problem is that many websites are non-responsive, which means that they do not respond to different screen dimensions. Therefore, the same sized webpage gets served to users on laptops as it does to those on mobile phones. Obviously, this site is going to look terrible on mobile phones.

But that’s not the only problem; Google has recognized that this is such a large issue and is moving to a mobile-first index. This means that their primary index is going to prioritize mobile users, they are doing this because the latest research shows that the majority of Google users are on mobile devices like phones and tablets.

When they transfer to a mobile-first index, any non-responsive sites are likely to be impacted negatively, seeing lower rankings and therefore less traffic. This is going to decrease your revenue, and that’s why it’s wise to switch to a responsive site as soon as possible.

Create a New Mobile Responsive Site

While it’s possible to somewhat change a non-responsive site into one that is mobile responsive, the ideal solution is to start from the ground up. This will allow you to use an entirely responsive framework that will ensure that every part of your website is responsive to mobile users.

Doing this is the only way to ensure that you are not negatively impacted by this change to a mobile-first index.

Cache Heavily

Another way in which you can accommodate for mobile users is to cache very heavily on the server and client side. Caching is when you tell users computers to store data that is important so that they don’t have to download it multiple times, this could include logo images and scripts.

By caching heavily, you can reduce the amount of data that you have to serve to a user for each page that they visit. The reason why this is important for mobile users is that they often have slow connections and therefore you want to give them the smallest file size possible.

Reduce the Number of Images

Another method for reducing the file size of a page is to reduce the number of images that you serve and also the file size of those pictures. Photos are the most resource intensive files that you will send to your visitors and reduce them is the quickest way to shrink the size of your page.

To reduce the file size of each of your images, you should make sure that you serve an accurate dimension size. Too often websites serve huge images and then have the user scale them down on their end, this is a huge waste of resources and causes pages to load far slower than they should.

Instead, you should figure out the max dimensions that your website will need and serve all images in this size.

Similarly, you might consider compressing images using a tool or exporting them from your graphics tool in a lower quality. Both of these methods will have a slight impact on the visual quality of the image but will have a huge benefit in the form of a smaller file size.

Improving Your Server

The final speed tip is to improve your server so that you can send data more quickly to your visitors. Many small and medium-sized businesses use shared hosting which is slow because you are sharing resources with many other websites.

Using a VPN or a dedicated server will give you constant access to resources so that you can always transfer data quickly, no matter how many people are on your site.

When Will the Mobile-First Index Go Live?

Nobody has an exact date for when the mobile index will go live, but early estimates from digital marketing experts and Google employees suggest early 2018. While others have suggested that it could be towards Q4 2018, some rankings already indicate that a mobile-first index is being tested.

Google intends to release this mobile-first index as quickly as possible so that they don’t lose market share to competitors like Yahoo and Bing. It’s impossible to know exactly when they will release this change but it’s likely to be sooner rather than later.

Creating a new responsive website can take months, and that’s why it’s best to get started as soon as possible so that you don’t get impacted.

Do Mobile Users Make Purchases?

One common myth which has deterred many website owners from creating a responsive website is that mobile users don’t make purchases anyway. Not only is this completely untrue, but it’s also extremely damaging to local businesses who are now missing out on extra sales.

Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of users are now happy to make purchases on mobile and many will spend thousands or more on their phones. This has changed significantly since the advent of smartphones, but now they are almost identical in perception to home computers.

Stop Accommodating and Start Prioritizing

Perhaps the only way to truly succeed with mobile users is to make a mindset change. Instead of accommodating for mobile users you need to change your point of view so that you prioritize them because they represent the majority of website traffic.

If you don’t then you are going to alienate a huge percentage of the population who wish to access your website on mobile. Plus, one of your competitors will eventually cater to these mobile users and take those customers out from under you.