Housing Professional’s Guide to Making a Website Mobile-Friendly

Published December 2, 2020
Last updated December 2, 2020

A mobile-friendly website is not optional anymore. It’s a must.

If you’re looking to increase site traffic, improve conversion rates, and build a positive reputation, you need a website optimized for mobile use.

We’ve laid out some tips to help!

What does “mobile-friendly” mean?

Mobile-friendly simply means the content on your website is as easy to read and navigate on a mobile phone or tablet, as it is on a computer.

Why mobile-friendly websites matter

Moving from desktop only to mobile-first design is an absolute priority for companies who want to succeed in the digital era. 

The number one reason? Google now crawls mobile FIRST.

This means Google will primarily index and rank the content of your mobile website, instead of desktop versions, because the majority of Google Search users search via mobile device. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it will be prioritized lower than mobile sites, significantly hurting your search engine ranking and online visibility.

This is a big deal.

You can read about Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices here.

Below are some additional important statistics to consider about mobile usage and mobile-friendly websites.

The state of mobile use today:

  • Mobile devices account for more than 50% of global website traffic
  • 50% of mobile searches are looking for local businesses
  • Mobile devices are used more than 50% of the time to read reviews
  • 69% of internet users prefer to look at reviews on their phone in-store before speaking to an employee

Mobile devices account for more than 50% of global website traffic

(Statista)

Why mobile-friendly websites are essential:

  • 57% of mobile consumers would not recommend a business to others if they had a bad mobile experience
  • 48% of mobile users that visited a site that was not mobile-friendly, believed that the company just didn’t care about their business. (Yikes!)

40% of mobile users went to a competitor website after an unsatisfactory mobile experience

(The Mobile Playbook)

Optimizing your website to create a smooth, satisfactory customer experience and be indexed by Google needs to be at the top of your to-do list – your reputation and business’ livelihood depends on it.

It might sound like a difficult task, but there are a number of small changes you can make to create a huge impact.

10 easy tips for a more mobile-friendly website

Here are a few easy-to-implement tips to make your website experience better for your mobile users:

  1. Do a website test first
  2. Build a responsive website
  3. Prioritize web speed
  4. Make important information easier to find
  5. Avoid pop-ups
  6. Keep your website’s design simple
  7. Use the viewport meta tag
  8. Turn off autocorrect on forms
  9. Don’t use flash
  10. Perform mobile testing regularly

1. Do a website test first

Before you put any resources into making website changes, you’ll want to first check how mobile-friendly your current website already is. Luckily, Google has a handy testing tool that will tell you if your site is up to snuff or if it needs some work. It will also show you a screenshot of how your website looks to a mobile user and give you recommendations to improve your mobile experience. 

2. Build a responsive website

If your website is not already responsive, this is a great first step to improve your mobile experience. Responsive websites are great for search engine optimization (SEO). Good SEO can help you get on the first page of Google where 98% of searchers select a business. 

A responsive website is the best way to have a site that performs well on desktop and mobile devices because it responds to the size of the device it’s being used on. Layouts are rearranged to make content easier to consume on a smaller screen, which creates a better user experience.

One of the easiest fixes is to install a new website theme. If you use WordPress for example, you can go to ‘appearance’ on your dashboard, click ‘themes’, then click ‘install themes’, and search for “responsive” themes. If you like to be more hands-on, there are tools you can use to build a responsive website yourself.

Read what Google says about the importance of responsive web design.

3. Prioritize website speed

Did you know that over 50% of people will leave a mobile website if it takes more than just three seconds to load?

Did you know that over 50% of people will leave a mobile website if it takes more than just three seconds to load?

(Search Engine Journal)

And 71% of mobile users expect a mobile page to load as fast or faster than a desktop? Imagine 50% of your potential customers going elsewhere simply because your website loads too slow. You can test your page load speed with Google’s speed test. It grades your website’s speed and gives you a step-by-step checklist of what needs to be fixed.

If your page takes more than 3 seconds to load there are a number of ways to improve speed. You can use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is encouraged by Google, by installing an AMP plugin if you use WordPress. You can also compress image file sizes to help them load faster. Particularly important for housing professionals who often have galleries of model homes, remodel projects, and products. You may also need a website hosting plan that can fit your upload speed needs. For more ideas, check out these tips.

4. Make important information easier to find

The quicker someone can pull up your mobile site and find the information they need, the better. This also goes for your desktop version. Think about what kind of answers people are looking for when they first visit your website and take a look at your website metrics for most-visited pages. Make that information easy to locate, either right on the homepage, or in a menu. 

Speaking of menus, make them simple. Mobile menus don’t need as many options as desktop versions, so cut yours down to the essentials.

5. Avoid pop-ups

Too many pop-ups on a desktop can be a nuisance to visitors, especially if they block text. Imagine how frustrating it can be trying to use a mobile website when the whole screen is taken over by an ad or pop-up form, and the close button is difficult to find. Removing pop-ups completely is your best option and creates a better user experience. If you prefer to keep a pop-up form, make sure the X button is large. Better yet, only have the form pop up when a visitor clicks a link to open it and keep your forms short.

6. Keep your website design simple

The most user-friendly and mobile-friendly websites are clean and clutter-free with a minimalist design. The more white space, the easier it is for visitors to read content and locate information. Avoid large blocks of text, use larger font and button sizes, and choose standard font styles.

7. Use the viewport meta tag

Sounds fancy, but the viewport meta tag just helps you control how your website looks on mobile. Essentially, it tells a browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, etc.) to fit your website into the width of a user’s device. Have you ever opened a mobile site and found yourself scrolling back and forth to see the whole page? By adding the following HTML code to the header of your website you can avoid that problem:

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

Not sure what that means? Reach out to your company’s tech guru and they will know just what to look for.

8. Turn off autocorrect on forms

Autocorrect, though sometimes convenient for personal use, can be quite irritating when visitors are trying to fill out forms and it keeps trying to autocorrect their names and addresses. It can also cause errors by auto-filling in the wrong email address for visitors who have more than one. These issues not only slow down the form-completion process but could cause people to close out of them altogether without submitting, or send you the wrong email without realizing and think you never responded.

9. Don’t use flash

Most modern websites don’t use flash and most web designers know not to use it. But if your website is dated and uses flash animation, you’ll want to get rid of it. Flash slows download time and is not supported by iOS or Android devices, which hold over 99% of smartphone operating system shares.

10. Perform Mobile Testing Regularly

Testing your mobile experience regularly allows you to fix bugs and make small changes as things come up. Ask your team to test as well, since mobile experiences can differ between devices.

Optimize your customer experience with AvidCX