Making WordPress Mobile-Friendly
In 2016, over 50% of people using the internet used a mobile phone to do so. With more people than ever accessing the internet on their smartphone, your website needs to be mobile-friendly, so that your users get the best experience possible and your website is ready to display on any size of screen.
Another reason this is so important is that mobile-friendly designs can improve your ranking in Google’s search results.
Google has an algorithm especially for mobile sites which means that if the site is adaptive to smaller screens, they get a boost in the rankings.
In this article, we will look at how to ensure that your WordPress website is mobile-friendly:
Choosing a Theme
If you have a WordPress theme that has been installed recently, you have probably chosen a theme that is mobile-responsive, as most recently themes are. If you have had the same theme for a while, you might need to update it.
Firstly, make sure that you check your WordPress version and current theme, as there may be pending updates waiting to be installed. Some updates might include a mobile-friendly element. If not, then it might be time to look for a new theme.
Before installing a new theme, look at the demo of how it will look, scale your browser window and review any feedback left by previous users.
Many plugins are there to serve a function, so often do not affect the visibility. If they do add some physical element, such as a call to action, or widget, then you need to make sure that it shrinks for smaller screens or, at least, to be disabled on them.
Like the advice above, you should look at reviews of previous users and look at a demo if possible, to see how it will interact on the site.
There are a few plugins that you can install that will optimise your website for mobile automatically. WP Touch is one of the most popular, but WordPress Mobile Pack has some great features as well.
Many sites are integrated with pop-ups, especially if you are trying to build an email list with your WordPress site. Most of these email opt-in forms should function well on mobile devices if they are programmed to scale and are easy to use.
The problem comes when the email opt-in forms pop-up when a user visits your site. Google has started to punish sites with opt-ins that are intrusive.
The best practice to keep the WordPress site as mobile friendly as possible is to avoid using pop-ups at all. Most hosts include an option to disable pop-ins for mobile devices.
You must choose wisely when it comes to a hosting plan for your WordPress website if you want it to be mobile friendly. The hosting company should be reliable and must not use a shared common server that could lead to a slower loading speed.
Cheaper hosting plans might compromise the response time for the website, which frustrates and puts off mobile users.
There is nothing worse than seeing headlines on your website sitting across a picture or running over other words. Having content that adapts according to the device being used is an important factor for a responsive website.
One way to achieve this is with alternatives, such as shorter titles. Images like infographics may not be effective on a mobile screen, as they will be too small to read, so it may be better not to include that content at all.
The best rule of thumb is to keep content short and interesting before posting your content on the site.
One thing that can really ruin the way a WordPress website operates on a mobile device is the menus being displayed in an odd format, or where they are unable to be used properly.
This could have a negative impact for the website user. Even if the menu used works on the desktop, it may not automatically work on a smaller screen.
You should also bear in mind that the priorities of desktop users will be different from the priorities of mobile users. For example, someone accessing on mobile may not want to view links in the archive section, but a desktop user might.
Someone accessing on the desktop might want to access more detailed information about your company, but mobile users will be more likely to focus on relevant data such as how to get in touch and what products you sell.
As referred to above, a plugin called WPtouch can help you to create mobile specific menus that enable users to have the best experience and be able to use the drop-down options even on mobile devices.
Google has issued a list of things that website owners should avoid if they want their website to rank well and run efficiently on a mobile screen.
Firstly, you should make that any content that you have on your website, such as videos and audio files, are able to be played on both mobile and desktop. You should also avoid smaller font sizes and aim for at least 16px for fonts used on mobile screens.
Keep any call to action buttons well-spaced apart. When using your website on a mobile, it may be hard to click on links that are too close together. Allowing plenty of space between buttons will make it much more user-friendly.
Google also has their own initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which helps to speed up mobile page loading times by providing a stripped-down version of the site.
The downside is that you do give up some control over the visual impact of your site, since the code becomes stripped, but it does make the site really fast and compatible with all devices.
If you want to make your WordPress site operate well for mobile users quickly and easily, AMP is a fantastic option and you can implement it easily using their official plugin from Automattic.
If you use WordPress for a blog or small business, then you do not really need to worry about downloading any applications or plugins.
Sticking to the simpler tips, like eliminating pop-ups, installing AMP and keeping the design responsive should be enough.
However, if you are running a larger business using a WordPress site, you may need to spend more time making sure that it is mobile compatible.