With technology advancing at the speed of light, your website must be up to date now more than ever. Digital publishers must keep pace, and this means keep looking at the big picture, but view it on a smaller screen. If your website has decreased in activity lately, it may be that it doesn’t meet the needs of your mobile phone user audience. Here are a few ideas on how to make your website more (mobile) user friendly:
Test for Mobile-friendliness
According to Kristen Hicks on HostGator.com, “Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional. If your mobile visitors don’t have a good experience on your site, you’ll drive away a huge portion of your traffic (and hurt your search engine rankings in the process).”
Hicks suggests using this testing tool from Google to determine if your website is mobile-friendly. It lets you know quickly, and even throws in a screenshot of what your site looks like on a mobile phone.
Code it Right
Tatiana Tsyulia, of link-assistant.com, advises publishers to code in HTML5. She also recommends avoiding software not normally found on smartphones, like Flash. Doing this, says Tsyulia, will ensure your content is presented smoothly on more mobile devices.
Make sure your page loads quickly. Smartphone users don’t like to waste their time waiting for a page to open, and will likely search elsewhere. Google’s update Core Web Vitals can determine if your site is “healthy” by its core indicators, one of which is load speed. Tsyulia says if your site doesn’t start loading within 2.5 seconds, it needs improvement.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Hannah Whitfield of websitebuilderexpert.com lists a few things to keep in mind when checking the mobile-friendliness of your website. “Avoid large chunks of text. The copy on your website should be short and sweet at the best of times (with the exception of blog posts, like this one!), but on mobile this becomes all the more important.”
Whitfield also advises all forms to be shortened, because “Long forms will lose you readers faster than you can say ‘this is a required field.’” Ensure all forms only ask for the necessary information. Her top tip? “Pesky autocorrect is a surefire way to turn form-filling into a major waste of time. Save your readers the stress by switching it off.”
Access for All
On her dreamhost.com blog , Megan Hendrickson stresses inclusivity: “Make sure your website is accessible to all readers – from adjusting the contrast so colorblind people can read content to making it possible for visually impaired people to understand through screen readers.
According to Hendrickson, it’s a mobile-first world, and optimization can’t wait. Since users rely more on mobile devices than their desktops, considering how your site works and looks on small screens is important. “Optimizing your site so that it performs well and is still easily usable on mobile devices is key, especially if you don’t want to get penalized by search engines.
Governmental Role Model
Tips on reader activity can be found in this very informative article on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services site. “The truth is, users don’t read Web pages; they scan them, looking for things they can read very quickly until they find a relevant piece of information. What does this mean? Write pages the way people use them. Make them scannable.” Here’s more good advice:
- Organize Content in an Inverted Pyramid
Organize your content as an inverted pyramid; put the most important information at the top and less important information at the bottom.
- Add Headings
Look for opportunities to divide your content into sections and give each section a descriptive heading.
- Use Bulleted and Numbered Lists
Use bulleted or numbered lists when appropriate.
- Write Concisely
Keep your paragraphs short—no more than 3-4 lines of text. Look for opportunities to cut words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs if they do not contribute necessary content
- Link and Bold Important Pieces of Information
Use hyperlinks and bolding to highlight important pieces of content, but be judicious—less is more.
Watch Your Language!
The University of Maryland website provides useful hints on your language use in this article on their website. Make your choices the right ones with their advice:
- Use Common Language
For SEO (Search Engine Optimization) use the same words and phrases your readers do. When creating page titles, headers, list items, and links, choose keywords carefully and use them consistently. This practice reinforces keywords relevancy for search engines.
Readers expect a personal, upbeat tone in web writing. They find bureaucratic writing offensive and out-of-place and ignore the message it’s trying to convey.
To avoid bureaucratic language, turn the tone down a notch. Search out and destroy jargon. Use active voice. Always try to write in first or second person.
- Use active voice instead of passive voice
Yes: Tim taught the class.
No: The class was taught by Tim.
- Choose lists over long paragraphs Use lists to make your content easier to scan
People are using their phones from everything from paying bills online to see who is stealing their Amazon packages while they are at work. Clear, quality, timely, mobile-friendly, fast and accessible information are what your mobile readers want. Apply the KISS principle, don’t waste their time, and you can reach out and touch everyone.