Updated January 17, 2023Reading Time: 7 minutes
Mobile First World
Having a mobile-friendly website is now mandatory, especially since Google runs separate search engine results pages for mobile and desktop. Gone are the days when visitors would put up with a non-adaptive site (that means images that refuse to load or pinch and stretch the text). So, what are the most important things to remember when creating a seamless mobile user experience? This guide will help you ensure your website meets Google’s requirements and, more importantly, the growing expectations of your web visitors.
Is It Turned On?
Google treats your website differently depending upon the device accessing it. Simply put, it means Google crawls your site twice: once for desktop visitors and once for mobile visitors. So, if your site has “mobile-first indexing” turned on, you should expect to see the Googlebot Smartphone crawling your site. You may notice differences in how your site appears on the search engine results page when using mobile devices.
What Do You Need to Do?
So how do you check to see if mobile-first indexing is enabled for your website? First, check how it appears on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Once you have carried out some basic searches to bring up your page, you can see if the meta descriptions and title tags are working and make sure other cosmetic aspects of your search appearance are functioning well. Some websites let you view what it looks like on desktop, tablet, and mobile on the backend.
After that quick audit, log into your Google Search Console account. Then, look at the Mobile Usability Report and the Page Experience Report. These two reports will show if there are any errors from Google’s perspective with how your site is indexed in their system. Google also lets you compare how your site performs for mobile compared to the desktop version of your site.
If you notice a big drop-off between the two, it’s a sign that you need to optimize your website!
Your Guide to a Seamless Mobile User Experience
1. Be great from the start.
Make sure your mobile site ranks well. Google has started prioritizing mobile indexing sites over desktop sites, using a different indexing algorithm. That means you’ll need to monitor how pages respond on various devices. What appears in a mobile search will differ from the now-traditional desktop-based SERP. Your site may begin to see issues as users will be confused if they find you on a desktop/laptop but not on their smartphone. How a website performs in organic search depends on the changes Google controls via its indexing algorithms. Be prepared to test across devices, emphasizing all types of mobile formats like smartphones and tablets. This Google video explains the indexing process and how Mobile-First indexing works.
2. Make sure the website’s style transfers to mobile.
If you have to change the design or structure of your website so it functions well on mobile, that isn’t a problem. But if you significantly change the design or how users navigate on your site, it could confuse your users as the experience isn’t consistent across all versions of your site. So try to match the website style across all types of devices as best as you can. To help you confirm that the pages are mobile-friendly, here’s a checklist:
- Use Headings – The heading (H1, H2, etc.) tags are important for typical SEO as they tell the search engine where to look for the most important information on the page. Headings are even more useful on mobile, as they point Google in the right direction and break the text up and suggest content hierarchy for the reader.
- Quotes and Highlights – Another way of breaking up the text to make it easier to scan and read on a small screen is by highlighting important passages of the text. One way you can do this is by inserting quotes or highlighting information that you think is important. Again, this makes the text easier to break down and grabs the attention of someone reading on mobile.
- Summary at the Top – Sometimes, introduction paragraphs are too long. Try to avoid this on mobile. Or, if you must write something complex in the introduction, add a summary above. This helps the mobile reader know exactly what’s going on without having to scroll further down the page to find out what you’re trying to say.
- Have a Table of Contents/ Or Put Info on Tabs/ Expandable Content – For long-form content, we recommend a table of contents with jump links to different sections on the page. Alternatively, you can put tabs at the top of the page to separate the content. You can add sections that expand or contract when you click them. This makes it very simple for a mobile user to navigate a page with a lot of content. You can present the information you want without worrying about overwhelming the reader or causing scroll fatigue.
- Use Bullets and Lists – Listed information is easy to read quickly. Where you can, add bullet points or lists that make your content scannable for a reader. When using our mobile devices, we’re often on the move or in a busy environment. Keeping things short and to the point will help your key points get seen quickly.
3. Make sure that buttons, CTAs, and forms are properly optimized.
Having valuable content and a good page design is essential. However, if your forms aren’t easy to fill on mobile, you’re wasting time. The same goes for your calls to action (CTAs). They need to be easy to see and click.
If you enable online payments, make sure the payment process is easy (and secure) on mobile. Nothing is worse than searching through a site for a product you want, then finding the UI at checkout is so terrible that you abandon the purchase. The same also goes for interactive content. Check that the videos you have work seamlessly on mobile. Also, test to ensure that plugins — apps installed within your website that add functionality — run on both your desktop and mobile versions. Improperly configured videos and plugins can create gaps on the page, negatively affecting user experience.
4. Make sure you have “Click to Call” set up.
Copying and pasting a phone number is a thing of the past. Make it easy for your visitor to connect. Few people want to write down your phone number. If your phone number is on your mobile site, make it clickable.
5. Link to your social platforms.
When on mobile, people often like to look through the filter of social media. Some users prefer to interact with a brand through their Facebook, Instagram, or other company profile pages, as each platform has a uniform information structure. So make it easy for customers who want to see your social profiles by adding easy-to-access buttons to your different social profiles.
WordPress Mobile Solutions
For a WordPress mobile solution, the WPtouch plugin is a favorite. It’s a quick way to make your site mobile-friendly. However, you must have a relatively current version of WordPress software (version 3.8 or higher) running.
There are two versions of WPtouch. One is a premium (paid) version, while the other is free. You can download Version 3.7.7 in the Plugin Directory on WordPress.org. For most websites, the free version should be sufficient. It gets updated almost every month, a sign that WPtouch’s developers are responsive (pun intended) to support issues.
Here’s what the plugin does:
- Enables a simple mobile theme for mobile visitors of your WordPress website
- Allows you to customize some aspects of the mobile appearance without modifying code
- Gives visitors a choice between the mobile theme and your website’s regular non-responsive theme
Core Web Vitals & Evaluating User Experience
Core Web Vitals is a Google Search Console report that shows how pages perform based on real-world usage data. This Google report evaluates a page’s user experience and assigns a status by device type. Your website can either be deemed poor, needs improvement, or good on desktop or mobile. Beyond the technical jargon, it provides a bigger picture view of your site. After all, you don’t want to leave visitors with a bad impression of your brand because of slow-loading pages and shifting elements.
Here are just a few examples of how Core Web Vitals reports were used to improve results. A Latin American agribusiness marketplace called Agrofy experienced 76% less load abandonment after improving its LCP (loading time for the largest page element) by 70%. Yahoo! Japan optimized its page using the Core Web Vitals report and experienced a 15% increase in page views per session. Beyond page views, these changes can impact sales. Vodafone’s optimization resulted in 8% more sales.
What mobile user experience means for your business
Depending on your target audience, mobile UX can have a noticeable effect on their interactivity, interest, and attitude toward your brand. Review your analytics and see how your visitors are accessing your site. If most of your visitors are viewing the mobile version, allocating time and effort toward making your site more mobile-friendly is a wise investment.
FAQs on Mobile Experience
Amazon’s study on UX revealed that 35% of sales are lost due to bad user experience and many more studies further emphasize the hindrance caused by a bad mobile user experience. After all, the average time a person spends on their phone in the US ranges between 5-6 hours. Google also requires you to satisfy mobile usability and provides guidelines and warnings on the proper font size, spacing, and responsiveness to the different phone screen sizes of each user.
The obvious answer is the size of the viewing screen, yet it goes beyond that. Mobile devices are more susceptible to privacy issues as they contain far more personal data than desktop computers. The UX experience differs across users since mobile devices also have varying capabilities.
More than 80% of the world’s population owns a mobile device, and we can expect it to keep increasing. 97% of American now own a cellphone of some kind, with 85% use a smartphone. As such, it’s a must for website owners to have a mobile-friendly website. It’s also Google’s initiative to prioritize indexing the mobile version of sites first.
People with screens larger than 4.3 inches were found to be more efficient at finding information. When designing your pages, consider the smallest average screen size and ensure the website’s text is readable and images are visible.