April 07, 2015

Mobile-Friendly DesignFor the last decade, the proportion of mobile web users and shoppers has been gradually increasing. Originally the preserve of those who could afford high-end smart phones, mobile internet use has become a commonplace. The majority of consumers in the western world — and many in developing nations — own at least one mobile device capable of internet browsing. And last year, mobile internet use finally outstripped desktop use.

For eCommerce retailers and publishers using content management systems like WordPress, this is a huge deal and has become a differentiating and competitive factor. No one likes to have to negotiate an unfriendly site on their mobile device, and since users are more wedded to their devices than your website or eCommerce store, they’re moving in droves to competitors who do offer a great experience on mobile.

And if that’s not enough, on April 21st, Google will introduce a new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm that will hit sites that aren’t ready for mobile hard. If your site does not offer a mobile friendly experience, you can expect to see search referrals from Google tank this spring.

The new algorithm will consider a variety of factors, but the upshot is that if your site isn’t ready for mobile users, it’s not going to get any mobile users, and given that there are more mobile users than desktop users, unprepared sites are in for a rough time.
The good news is that it’s not especially hard to prepare for mobile, but if you’ve still got all the work ahead of you, now is the time to get started.

If you’re a WordPress users, you should be prepared already. Responsive themes have been prominent in theme marketplaces for several years now. In my opinion, responsive web design is the best way to offer a decent experience to users no matter the device they are using. It allows you to have one site that works across all devices rather than incurring the expense of a separate site for each device type. If you want to make your current theme responsive, take a look at this article from Colorlabs — you’re going to need some coding chops and experience with CSS to pull off the necessary changes.

If you’re using a recent version of Magento, you should be covered. Magento is designed with mobile-friendly features out of the box, and provided you’re using a responsive theme, you’re good.

Both ExpressionEngine and vBulletin have numerous responsive themes available.
If you are unsure whether your site is mobile-friendly, Google have made a tool available that will tell you how mobile-friendly your site is and areas that may need some attention. You can also learn more from Google’s guide to mobile-friendly sites.


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