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7 website optimization tips for looking good on a mobile device

a tablet

Did you know that 28 percent of all web searches take place on mobile devices?

That’s over a billion users around the world. With mobile device traffic set to overtake regular search, ask yourself if you are optimising your e-commerce website for this huge market share.

In this guide to optimizing a website for mobile devices, I outline how business owners can serve content in optimized formats for desktop and smart phone users. I also describe the mistakes business owners and managers typically make. Then I provide solutions for these mistakes.

1. Act on analytics

The habits of a mobile device users are different to that of desktop users. Mobile visitors desire short and easy to read text, and they spend less time on each page than regular visitors.

If you are unsure, Google Analytics can tell you the types of devices and the browsers people use when viewing your content.

Using this information you could improve your website by:

  • Removing unnecessary pages from your top menu for easier navigation
  • Avoiding on-screen clutter e.g. ads
  • Ensuring visual continuity between your mobile and desktop websites
  • Prioritizing responsiveness over elaborateness when it comes to site design.
  • Placing higher priority elements higher up the page followed by lower priority elements lower down

2. Find and fix bottlenecks

A recent study shows that a business loses about 25 percent of online visitors if its website takes over 4 seconds to load. However, many e-commerce sites take longer than 4 seconds to load, suggesting they are missing out on potential revenue.

You can use Googles PageSpeed Tools to check how fast your website is and what sort of user experience it offers.

This tool will provide you (or your developer) with useful suggestions for optimizing your website on a mobile or desktop. You can also use this information to address load time bottlenecks and make fixes.

Remember, fancy effects may look good but don’t make your visitors wait for their content.

3. Reduce the size of image files

Most iPhones have a screen-resolution of 640 by 960 pixels while many Android smart phones are around 720 by 800 pixels. Anything above this screen resolution is generally considered a tablet.

You should use images for your mobile site sparingly. They dramatically slow down your page load speed and can often appear incorrectly.

It's good practice to avoid using images over 100kb in size. You can use an image editing tool like Photoshop or even the free tool Image Optimizer to create smaller image sizes. WordPress users should also consider WP Smush.it.

If you prefer larger file-sizes, use these sparingly as they take longer to load on mobile devices.

4. Create multiple call-to-actions

Your mobile site should feature a large and clearly visible call-to-action (CTA) in a prominent area. However, there is often much less room on an iPhone, Android or tablet for your CTA.

Mobile users scroll quickly up and down pages on their device. This is why it makes sense to add second CTA further down the page. This encourages mobile users to convert and reduces the chances of the user leaving the page before taking action.

5. Improve your forms

In many cases, e-commerce sites use a form as their CTA.

If you're going to do this, optimize your mobile website’s forms to maximize conversions. The most obvious solution for this is to reduce the form requirements.

Website visitors are put off when they see an online form and tend to leave the page, especially if they are using a mobile.

Removing excessive form requirements can keep the visitor’s attention and improve your bounce rates.

Similarly, consider providing an address look-up facility by having the post or zip code field at the top of the form. This enables your website to automatically fill a new customer's address, and it reduces the amount of time it takes to complete a form.

It is also important that your form saves information in case there's an error or the user has to leave the submission page. This will improve the user experience and encourages leads to complete your forms.

6. Ask what the customer wants

If you are unsure about any of these changes, figure out what you want a new website visitor to do. Then, make this as easy as possible for them.

It also pays to spend time getting real-world feedback from customers and leads who use your website on a mobile device (you could always offer a discount for those who provide feedback).

This way both you and your new customers will benefit from a site optimized for mobile devices.

7. Incorporate responsive design

In terms of web pages, responsive design refers to a website that flexibly adapts to various screen sizes without compromising a user’s ease of use. A good responsive design will respond by ensuring that the key content on a webpage is still easily visible regardless of what device a user is viewing the website from. 

Many mobile devices today will tend to zoom out and show an entire website exactly how it would appear on a desktop. This can result in buttons being too small to click, copy being too small to read and a general bad experience for the user. Not only should you try redesigning the layout of your content, but also the content itself. Remember that users of desktop devices behave very differently to that of a mobile device user. 

About George

George Bates is a digital marketer for Midas Media, the Digital Marketing Agency. Find him on Google+ and Twitter.