The rise of mobile devices has been one of the most decisive changes on the Internet. These days, no website can do without being mobile friendly. By now, mobile users represent more than half of all Internet traffic and also make up the majority of all search queries. For that reason, there's no way around catering to this user group. Plus, Google now punishes you in the search results if you don’t have a mobile-optimized version of your site. If that isn’t motivation enough, I don’t know what is.
However, what does it mean for a website to be mobile friendly? Do you just install a responsive theme and you're done?
While that’s a good start, it’s not all. In this article, we're going to break down exactly what it means to have a mobile-friendly site and how you can implement it on your WordPress website.
The very first step to make your WordPress site mobile friendly is to get it to adapt to different screen sizes. This is called responsive design.
The advantages of responsive design are numerous. The main thing it has going for itself is that you only have to take care of one site. With a responsive theme, every user can access the same website so there is no need to run and update a mobile version separately. This conserves your branding and eliminates a lot of hassle.
Thankfully, all modern WordPress themes in the directory come with responsive capabilities. So, if you are looking for a new theme for your site, chances are good you will find one that is already mobile friendly. However, even so, be sure to test it thoroughly.
If you have an existing theme that is not yet responsive, you have several choices. First of all, check to see if it’s up to date. Should you be running an outdated version, the developer may have added responsive functionality in the meantime.
Plugins are awesome additions to any WordPress website. They can bring all sorts of new functionality and features and can make your site better. However, if your plugins add stuff to the frontend, make sure that it all works well on mobile as well. Nothing is worse than discovering that your new widget, slider, or button doesn’t scale properly.
As with themes, check beforehand, read reviews and do a test run in a local testing environment. Aside from that, pretty much all premium plugins should be ready for mobile by now.
Popups that cover the entire screen are annoying enough on a desktop computer. However, they can be even more so on mobile, especially when we are talking about phones.
Touch control makes it extra hard to close them which puts an unnecessary burden on your visitors. So much so that Google officially frowns upon popups that make content hard to access, especially on the front page.
However, what's a person trying to grow their email list to do? Google’s recommended way is to use banners, text links and calls to attention inside the content. Traditional signup forms in the right places still work, too.
If you have implemented the above measures and are still not sure whether your site is mobile friendly, it’s time to take the test.
Since Google wants you to do your best job, they have created a nifty mobile friendliness testing tool. Here, you can simply input your site URL, hit the button and it'll you if there’s anything wrong with your site’s mobile optimization. That way, you can take any necessary action.
You can also find a section like that inside your Google Search Console. It’s called Mobile Usability and located under Search Traffic. Here you will learn about whether your site elements are too close together or if your font is too small and other issues.
Images often make up large parts of website data. For that reason, to make WordPress websites mobile friendly, it’s absolutely crucial to take care of images as well. WordPress has already done a lot in that direction. Since version 4.4, the CMS automatically serves up the smallest possible image to users using the
srcset HTML attribute.
However, image optimization doesn’t stop with your WordPress version. There are plenty of things you can do to improve their usability on mobile devices. The most important thing in this regard is to optimize them before uploading. If you have Photoshop, you can use Save for web to create the smallest possible image size. Everyone else can use services like TinyPNG to shrink their image size.
Mobile friendliness is a must-have feature for any website in today’s Internet. Your audience and search engines both demand it from modern sites. For that reason, it’s crucial that website owners and developers educate themselves on how to make their WordPress website mobile friendly.
The good news is also that WordPress itself is taking great strides in staying on top of mobile usability. From automatically serving the smallest image size to mobile browsers to a mobile-optimized backend, users can be sure that their favourite CMS has its head in the game. The rest is up to you.