‘The Common Errors in Mobile-Friendly Page Design & What ‘Mobile Friendly’ Is’
Google’s big move on ranking mobile-friendly websites a tad higher than the other sites, could come as a big blow for a number of businesses, on April 21, 2015. A slight, upward surge in the search rankings, could just make all the difference! But fates can be reversed. With a simple change in the architecture of a webpage and by ensuring that it is compliant with Android phones and the like, a business’ website could feature in the top organic searches by Google. It is imperative to understand that there is a good chance that the real problems may begin once your website has been configured for mobile and/or tablet use. Some of the major problems that could arise once the website has been developed could largely be related to common mobile usability errors. These errors determine how the users of mobiles are able to view and experience the business’s website in its entirety. Building a mobile-friendly webpage is just the first step. But if the page is not user-friendly, has a number of glitches and flashes mobile-specific errors, then what would have all the efforts come to?
At the end of all this, if a user finds that a website is too difficult to navigate through or does not open due to errors that were not looked into while the site was being built in the first place, then it still wouldn’t feature in the top organic searches by Google. Here are some of the most common mobile webpage architectural bloopers and an overview of what defines the term, ‘mobile-friendly’.
Content That Cannot Be Played
Imagine clicking onto a website on your mobile phone, only to find out that the content on the website cannot be played. And you are often left wondering why that happened? The answer to that is simple. In all likelihood, the architecture of the website was probably not supported on mobile phone devices. Certain content or videos are not playable on mobile phones or tablets and require Flash or other players, which are commonly not supported by mobile phones. In order to make a website mobile-friendly, a standard HTML5 tag could be used to include animations or videos or video-embedding software for a better video-viewing experience on the mobile phone. Without this, the user could have a troublesome experience!
It can be quite a turn off if you have to wait for more than 10 seconds for your page to load. Out of frustration, you might even close the page or move to another page that may load faster. So why do pages load slowly most of the time? Certain pages that have higher file density and vivid displays than most other pages, come with a price. These pages generally take longer to load on devices like mobile phones.. Sometimes, you may focus a little too much on designing your webpage with the highest resolution and the better quality images and as a result, you may have overlooked the fact that the ‘speed’ for loading your pages, might have come down drastically. Whether the quality trade-off is worth it is the question and if it is, it should be adopted, because in this case, if a page is too slow, a user might even shift to a competitor’s page for information. Slow and steady DOES NOT win the race in this situation.
If a user is navigating through a specific segment of a desktop URL on the mobile phone, then the user should be able to move to the exact same segment of the page, after clicking on the link to the mobile URL. Instead, there have been a number of instances, wherein, the user is directed back to the homepage of the website on the mobile URL. This is a major drawback and can leave the user feeling extremely perplexed. Random redirects such as these, can be corrected with the Crawl Errors Report in Webmaster Tools.
‘Download App’ Pop-Ups
While browsing through a particular website, ads for downloading the brand’s app, might pop-up and block the user from using the site. Not only can this be irksome, but it could lessen the frequency of a user’s visits on the mobile page. In order to promote the business’ apps on the website, an HTML banner that is aesthetically place at the top or the side of the page without disrupting the user from using the app, can make a webpage more mobile-friendly.
On many occasions, pages that load on desktops, do not load on mobile phones. ‘Not Found’ errors and soft 404’s messages are typically some of the messages that the users view on their mobile phones. It is always best to recheck that the page is not a 404 and to forward the users to a corresponding mobile page on the phone rather than accessing the desktop version. Webmaster Tools and responsive web-design is the best way of ensuring that smartphone-specific Error 404’s don’t occur.
So, What Exactly Is ‘Mobile Friendly’?
For any website that you navigate through, a ‘mobile-friendly’ label appears in the mobile SERPs. Creating a separate website for mobile phones, which is stripped off the original, essential content and has to be zoomed in to read the content, is not something that deserves a ‘mobile-friendly’ title. Now that we know what is ‘NOT’ mobile friendly, it is important to discuss the criteria set by Google (and Googlebot) that defines the term ‘mobile-friendly’ to the best, possible extent.
- The usage of modern applications and animations could lead to a better mobile-optimization practice than using mediums like ‘Flash’ that is usually not supported on mobile phones.
- A mobile-friendly website should technically fit all of the content on a single page or to viewport, and should not require the user to slide the page horizontally to view the entire page. This leads to messy reading, information could seem muddled and the overall experience could be a really inconvenient one for the users.
- The website viewport should be configured in such a manner wherein the fonts are automatically scaled to suit the different device screens, be it a PC, a tablet or a mobile phone. The number of fonts on a page need to be restricted so that the page doesn’t look to messy and the spacing needs to be configured for specific devices according to Google recommendations. Typically, a user should not have to zoom-in to a web page to read the content on the phone.
- One of the biggest challenges that a number of websites face is the unnecessary cramming of too many elements onto a single page. While going through a website on a device as small as a mobile phone, the elements could appear spindly and can make the design of the webpage look lousy.
- Keeping screen buttons at a fair distance from each other so that users can conveniently click on the button they intended to click without touching another one by mistake, is what Google suggests for a well-configured mobile viewport. Spacing guidelines, frequently used links and tap targets should all be looked into for optimum functionality of a mobile-friendly site.
Now with all this information on how to rectify common website architectural bloopers and with Google’s criteria met, a page progresses from being a basic, mobile-friendly website to a highly enhanced one-one that will go on to rank in the search engine with the right web design and SEO essentials.