Mobile optimisation and mobile-first design are hot topics nowadays. This is not surprising since

worldwide mobile traffic already overtook desktop a few years back and it is expected to continue to grow in the future. This trend pushes web designers and developers to make websites even more mobile-friendly to satisfy billions of users around the world.

Find out more about mobile optimisation and mobile-first design and how they can help you strengthen your online presence and grow your business.

What is mobile optimisation and why is it important?

Mobile optimisation means ensuring that a website provides a great user experience to mobile users.

A website that looks great on a big screen may not be as pretty on a mobile device. Also, navigating a website from a desktop is quite different from navigating it from a mobile device. Likewise, some features that work seamlessly on a desktop may lag on a smartphone because of its limited computing power.

It is therefore necessary to optimise your website for mobile to create a positive user experience, especially that much of the global web traffic nowadays comes from mobile devices.

A positive user experience can help create a lasting impression and help build trust in your brand. Satisfied users are likely to convert and return to your website in the future.

Mobile Optimisation Best practices

How do designers ensure that mobile users will have the best experience when accessing a website? They implement various techniques to speed up websites and follow some design guidelines to make websites easy to use and navigate from a mobile device.

Here are some of the current best practices for mobile optimisation.

Improve page speed

Studies show that fast websites have a lower bounce rate, higher conversion rate, and higher ranking in organic search. This can be attributed in part to the positive user experience of the visitors when they visit a fast loading website. The following are some of the ways to speed up your website to optimise for mobile devices.

Optimise images

Images are one of the largest contributors to overall page size which can affect the loading time of your website.

It may not matter much when your visitors are accessing from a desktop. But for mobile users, large images can slow down the loading time of your website.

Use an image compression tool to reduce the file size of your images but ensure not to sacrifice the quality of the images.

Minify the code

Remove unnecessary spaces, formatting, and comments from HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to reduce the file size. Smaller file sizes load faster and the output is functionally equivalent.

Use Content Delivery Networks

Generally, when serving static files from your own servers, the farther away the user is from the server, the longer the load time will be.

This can be remedied by using content delivery networks. CDNs use geographically distributed servers and use the servers closest to your visitor to serve the static files such as CSS, images, fonts, and JavaScript to your visitors.

Reduce the number of redirects

When you have moved something on your website, you can use redirects to point your visitors to the right location. Redirecting from a bad page to an updated page is generally a good practice. However, redirects can also hurt website speed so it is best to minimize their use.

Use only necessary plugins

Plugins are a great way to add functionality to your website. However, they can affect the speed of your website. It is a good practice to regularly review what plugins you have and remove those that are not essential to your website.

Mobile SEO

Optimise titles and meta descriptions

Ensure that your title does not exceed the recommended number of characters for title tags. Be as concise when creating titles, URLs and meta descriptions.

Use structured data

Structured data is a standardised format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. For example, a recipe page would include ingredients, cooking time, calories, etc.; a product would include price, availability, review ratings, and so on. This makes it easier for Google and other search engines to understand the information on the page.

Improve the mobile user experience

Design for the fat finger

Ensure that your buttons are not too big or small and there is enough space in between them to prevent accidental taps on your website.

Likewise, when designing for swiping elements, keep swiping areas out of hard to reach areas such as the top and bottom of corners and use an appropriate size to ensure they’re easy to reach. This also helps prevent accidental taps.

Simplify navigation

Minimise the number of menu buttons as possible. For eCommerce sites, it is best to have a search box, a drop-down menu for categories, and featured items that they can scroll through to simplify navigation.

Don’t make your content layers too deep

Most would recommend having up to only three-layers deep of content so that readers can easily find what they are looking for. In an eCommerce store, for example, a customer can click on a category, choose a product, and then add the product to the shopping cart.

Make home button accessible on every page

Make it easy for your users to return to the homepage when they want to so they won’t have to tap back buttons multiple times.

Avoid pop-ups

Pop-ups can be more frustrating for mobile users because the small exit button makes it even harder to close. It is best to avoid using pop-ups on your website.

Make your text more readable on mobile

Use at least 14 px font and proper kerning and leading to make your website is more readable.

Make CTAs prominent

Make sure your calls to action are impossible to miss. Make them big enough and use vibrant colours. Preferably, the first CTA should be above the fold.

Remove large graphics

Landscape photos do not display well when viewed on mobile and the screen size will not give justice to large graphics.

Use responsive design

Responsive design is the most preferred way to design nowadays.

It eliminates the need to build a separate mobile version of your website to make your site mobile-friendly. Instead, you have one version of your website that works on all types of devices. Responsive design allows page elements such as columns and images to reshuffle as the viewport grows or shrinks.

Google recommends using responsive design and is one of the main factors in search engine rankings.

Why you should think mobile-first

There are two ways designers can approach web design.

One is to design how the website will look and function on a large screen first. In this approach, a designer incorporates all the features and functionalities from the start and then strips away the unnecessary parts for tablets and mobile phones.

The downside in using this approach is that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish which are the crucial features and which are not once they’ve been all put together.

The other approach is mobile-first web design. This means designing how the website will look and function on a small screen first and then adding more features as designers move onto a bigger screen.

Because of the limited space on a mobile screen, bandwidth restrictions, and limited or no multitasking capabilities, UX designers on a mobile-first mindset must prioritise the most essential features.

Also, when designers build a website from a mobile-first perspective, they are in a sense already doing mobile optimisation. They are already thinking about how to make the page loading time faster, how to simplify the design and navigation for the best user experience, how to make the visuals look good on a small screen, and so on.

The mobile-first approach makes a lot of sense since it is easier to scale up from a simpler design that was built for mobile than try to optimise a complex design into a smaller device.

This approach also helps in streamlining the website because the designers have already identified the most essential elements early on. So when they scale up for larger screens, they already know what works, and what to focus on.

Responsive web design services in Brisbane

Is your website already optimised for mobile? If you haven’t implemented mobile optimisation yet, then you’re not providing the best user experience to your customers. This can limit the success of your business online.

It is important to partner with a digital agency that stays current with web design trends like mobile optimisation and mobile-first design.

Mettro, a leading web design and development company in Brisbane, can provide you with top-notch responsive web design services.

We are a proudly Queensland, independently owned and operated digital agency that has been delivering award-winning website design & development and digital marketing for over 20 years. We are dedicated to solving our client’s business problems with smart, simple digital solutions and have the testimonials to prove it.
We’ve built thousands of digital solutions including apps, eCommerce websites, custom software, eLearning applications, WordPress websites and Shopify Websites. Contact us or book a one-on-one to discuss your website design project!

Written by Raeleen  |  3 April 2020