When looking at designing a website, or redesigning an existing one, you have to consider mobile and tablet users, with mobile users making up to 30% of Internet searches. Remember that a mobile user has a small screen, and does not usually have all the tools for navigating that a desktop user has.
If you have an existing website, then if you are not to lose out on those mobile searches, you must ensure that the mobile user has a good experience otherwise your website will be dropped like a hot potato. There is now another reason for having a mobile friendly website, and that is that from 21st April 2015 Google is giving preference in the search results to sites that are mobile friendly.
There are a number of ways that you can redesign a website to be mobile friendly, but remember that you want to give a good experience to all device users including desktop and tablet users too.
1. Mobile users do not have a mouse like desktop and laptop users, instead, they will normally use their touchscreen, or in some cases the keypad. On that small display there will not be space to show all of the elements of a complicated navigation scheme, so have a simple navigation system to make is easy with as few touches as possible.
2. A lot of mobile users and indeed tablet users have to ability to view the display in both a horizontal and vertical orientation. Fixing the width of your web pages can result in mobile users receiving a less than satisfactory display. The way to approach web page design is by not specifying the width of the site, so when browsing from any device space will be filled up in a more natural way. This ensures that whatever the device you should get a reasonable display. The use of CSS (Cascaded Style Sheets) will also enhance the user experience.
3. Remember that mobile users are downloading content via their mobile provider and may have a limit on the number of Megabytes or Gigabytes they can download, according to their contract. Make web pages as small in terms of bytes as you can by reducing file sizes, image sizes and the size of any other components of the web page. Apart from anything else, this will ensure a quicker download for users attached to the cell phone networks and potentially cost them less into the bargain.
4. Smartphones vary in size, with later phones generally having a larger screen size, but most can still only view a single column format. Many websites have 2 or more columns which make it difficult for the mobile viewer to achieve a good viewing experience. If you have a website with a single column design, it means that when viewing from a smartphone, the user has less work to do zooming and panning to get the information they are after. If the content is in a vertical layout then the user merely has to scroll down the page.
5. A lot of websites now have a mobile version of the site to which mobile users are directed to ensure the best viewing experience. With a small amount of technical know-how, web developers can add some code to the website to detect a mobile device and redirect that device to the mobile version of the website. Device profiles can be created based on the screen size of the viewing device.
The important aspect of all this is to provide all users with the best possible experience, but if you also value your website and want to receive as many visitors as possible then you must ensure a mobile-friendly site if you are to rank highly in the search engines, particularly Google.