It’s time, pretty lady. Google has made a decision that will impact how your website shows up in search results. And it’s starting on April 21, 2015.
My inbox has been flooded with emails the past couple of months from clients, colleagues, and friends asking why they are getting a notification from Google that their beautiful website has mobile usability errors. Or, they have noticed the buzz on social media talking about Google making changes and rewarding websites who are recognized as mobile friendly.
What exactly is Mobile Responsive Design?
I made the move early last year to design exclusively in mobile responsive design. Many clients have asked me why there is an increased cost to a mobile responsive design. The most simplistic answer I can give you is that with a responsive website, your web pages fluidly morph to the screen it’s being viewed on. There is no need for the double tap or the pinch & squeeze to zoom in or out to see content on a mobile responsive site.
Think about it like this: when you’re viewing a site on a large desktop monitor, then switch to a mobile phone, the screen size difference is tremendous. Mobile responsive coding ensures that whatever size your screen is, the text and images are readable. For the developer of your site, this means they need to not only code your site to be beautiful on large computer screens, but then also code in changes to the elements of your content so when it’s viewed on smaller screens, your viewer’s experience is the same. This involves shrinking images, having text rearrange itself, and most likely having blocks of content move to different locations on the page. This doesn’t automatically happen. Your web designer/developer has to write lines of code to make this happen. And she has to do this so your site will look cohesive on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.
Here’s what you may have noticed show up in your inbox:
What’s the bottom line?
You can no longer ignore that your website is not mobile friendly.
What criteria do search engines like Google use to give its mobile friendly designation?
According to Google’s blog post about this,
A website page will receive the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:
- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped
How can I tell if my site passes the test?
You can hop over to Google’s mobile friendly test page HERE. Just enter the full url of your home page and you’ll get your results. If your site is mobile friendly already, you’ll likely get a score like this:
If you’re site isn’t mobile friendly, it’ll likely look like this:
If you’re curious what your site looks like across different devices, I discovered this neat website that allows you to even click and scroll within each one! AM I RESPONSIVE?
Oh, no! My site is not passing that damn test? What can I do?
Firstly, breathe. I would guess over 80% of the sites I’ve tested in the past two months don’t pass the test. Rest easy: you are not alone. In my opinion, you have three options:
1. You can invest in mobile responsive design. There are many developers (me included) who are offering reduced design packages for clients looking to keep their current look and have it redesigned in a mobile responsive format. I *get* it! You LOVE your website and so do your ideal clients! I’ve done this for several clients in the past six months.
2. You can simply change your theme. You’re most likely already running a WordPress theme on your site. There are many WordPress themes that are already mobile-ready. If you don’t have a custom designed site or your site is feeling a little old, it might be just the answer for you! The built in default Twenty-Fifteen theme could be a perfect fit for you.
3. You can easily add a WordPress mobile plugin. There are lots of great WordPress plugins that will make your site mobile-ready. They are generally easy to implement and you’ll be ready for the impending Google deadline date of April 21 in no time. The disadvantage of using a mobile ready plugin is that your website won’t look like it does on a computer screen. They’re fairly generic and not as beautiful as your custom design. The upside could be that you absolutely adore the simplicity of how it looks (which would be a huge win-win!). WPtouch is the plugin that Google is recommending people use. There is a free version as well as an upgraded paid version with more design options.
If your website has no mobile friendly solution, I encourage you to find a solution that best fits your needs right now.
If you listen to your intuition and have a hunch that it may be time to either make your current design responsive or that it is time to start fresh with your own custom mobile responsive design, let’s connect and see what kind of magic we can create.
**If you’re interested in the April 21 deadline, you can read it directly from Google HERE.**