With the rabbit-like proliferation of smartphones and tablets, the day of the desktop computer is waning — and nowhere more so than in terms of web access. The problem is, many pages on the Internet were not designed with the capabilities and constraints of mobile devices in mind.
We’ve probably all run into sites like this: you go to a website on your phone or tablet and it takes forever to load.
When it finally does load, it’s tiny on your already-small screen.
You’ve got to zoom in, and maybe the pictures still haven’t really finished loading; when they do load, the whole site refreshes — but you’re already scrolling, so the refresh makes you lose your spot. At that point, you can be forgiven for rage-quitting back to Google to find that site’s competitor.
Now realize that might be happening to visitors to your site. Realize if that viewer wasn’t connected to WiFi, they may also see a dent in their data usage from visiting the site — which also won’t endear them to you.
Google Doesn’t Like It Either
As the de facto premier search engine on the planet, Google can exert a certain amount of control over how web pages are built, because it controls the requirements for high search ranking.
Starting April 21st, 2015, Google will start to penalize sites that are not optimized for mobile viewing.
The reasoning is simple: What Google wants — and what users want — are informative websites that are easy to view and use. Since the vast majority of web access is now occurring through mobile devices, that’s what web designers and developers need to design and develop for.
What to Do?
Now we come to the actual Vocabularama bit.
The overarching term is “mobile-friendly.” There’s a number of different approaches to achieving this, but they all boil down to making sites lighter (less data use), serve the important information most prominently, and navigation designed to work in a touch-based environment. Without degrading the viewing experience from traditional desktops.
That’s quite a challenge, and an answer to that challenge is “Responsive Web Design” (RWD). It’s one of the (if not the) primary methods to make the web mobile-friendly.
So-called because the website’s shape and content respond to the size of the browser window, RWD represents a different way to code. A site can be made to look entirely different on a phone compared to desktop, but still be the same site.
How Do I Know If My Site Is Mobile-Friendly?
Well, you could try looking at it on your smartphone, but there’s a lot of other stuff that has to go in on the back end to make a site truly mobile-friendly.
Instead, we’d suggest running your web pages through Google’s mobile-friendly verification tool.
Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.