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September 3, 2019

Mobile 101 – How to Make Your Website User-Friendly for Mobile Users

Author: Valerie Baker

Since 2016, mobile internet usage has surpassed computer usage. Ever since the rise of smartphones over the past decade, mobile devices have become an essential part of everyday life. From making a purchase to finding a new restaurant or to making deposits to your bank, smartphones have revolutionized the way we do everything.

Because of this, if you are a business owner with a website, making your website mobile friendly is essential to compete in the digital space and find new customers.

I recently completed a Google Ads certification on mobile advertising that touched on all the different aspects of how to optimize your web presence for most internet users finding you from their mobile devices.

There are several elements that go into making your website mobile-friendly from a design, content, and technical perspective. Google conducted a survey with AnswerLab which examined how users interact with mobile sites and discovered a series of different design principles on how to make your mobile site good, effective, and enjoyable for all users.

They were organized into five key areas – easy navigation, easy search, easy conversions, easy forms, and easy on mobile. Let’s take a deeper look at each category and its principles.

Easy Navigation

Example Photo of a Menu on Mobile

Being able to easily navigate your site and find the information users want is essential to giving users a positive experience on your website.

If they have difficulty finding the information they are looking for, users will likely bounce. Making the best of the limited space on mobile devices to show users the most important information gives your website a mobile-friendly design. Some important principles of mobile navigation are:

  • Keep calls to action front and center. Since it’s easy to miss things on small screens, having the most important CTAs displayed clearly and prominently should be at the forefront of your mobile site.
  • Keep menus short, sweet, and distinct. While on a desktop you may have room for a lengthy menu, mobile users have less patience to scroll, so you should present as few menu items as possible and make their purpose obvious.
  • Make it easy to get back to the homepage. As mobile users navigate through your site, it should be clear and easy for them to return to the homepage. Google recommends using the logo at the top of the page as a button that users can easily understand can be used to take them back.
  • Don’t let promotions steal the show. Large banners, promotions, and ads can be distracting for users, especially on the limited space mobile devices provide. Be sure to use them sparingly and make sure they don’t distract from the main information that you want to provide to users about your business.

Easy Search

Searching through the site is a vital function for users to take advantage of when they access your website on their mobile device and are looking for information in a hurry. Design your site with these principles in mind to maximize the value of site search on mobile.

  • Put your search bar in a text box at the top. When users coming to the site looking for specific information, they will be looking for the search bar as soon as they land on the site, so putting it in a spot where they can easily see it is best. Data from the study shows that users respond best to an easily visible, open text search box at the top of the page.
  • Ensure site search results are relevant. Of course, if users are using site search to find certain information, you want to make sure the right information is being presented to them. Make sure your first results are the strongest because users are not likely to swipe through multiple pages of search results.
  • Offer search filters. Depending on how big your website is, it might be worth it to include search filters to help users find the right relevant information faster. Google recommends offering a filter to help narrow down results but ensure that users won’t get zero results on their searches.
  • Guide users to better site search results. If applicable, have users give you more information about themselves to help you give them better results. For example, a shoe retailer could help narrow down their results by asking the user what gender they are when they search.

Easy Conversions

The goal of your website is probably to get more sales, web leads, or conversions – whether it’s phone calls, getting them to sign up for an account, making a purchase, or fill out a contact form. So, when designing your website, you should keep in mind how easy the process of converting is for the user, with these principles.

  • Let users explore before asking them to commit. The study showed that users became frustrated when asked to commit too early. Make sure you let users browse content before creating any barriers for them to continue.
  • Let users purchase as a guest. If you have an e-commerce site, include the option for guest checkout. Customers often become frustrated when they are forced to register and like the ease and convenience of being able to check out as a guest.
  • Prefilled fields with existing information. Users don’t like having to repeatedly enter information they have already inputted. So, make any form filled with pre-filled information will save users time and make them more likely to complete a conversion.
  • Provide click-to-call buttons. While forms may be more convenient for some users, many prefer to call to complete actions over the phone or get more information. By including prominent click-to-call buttons at key places, you can capture more leads.
  • Make it easier to finish converting on another device. A user may come across your site on a mobile device but wait to convert later from their desktop or another device. By offering things like social share buttons, email, or a save-to-cart option, it helps the user return to the site to convert at a later time.

Easy Forms

As we’ve mentioned, conversions are important, and forms are an essential part of conversions. Completing forms on mobile devices can often be a frustrating process for mobile device users, so by streamlining your forms, you will make it an easier experience for users on mobile devices.

  • Add features that make form entry easier. Subtle things make the user experience easier when filling out forms. For example, when prompted to input a zip code, a site can automatically present a number pad. Consider different ways you can make completing the form easier from a user perspective and implement them.
  • Offer the simplest input method. Always consider the simplest method for getting information. For example, if possible, include a drop-down menu of options rather than a text input if you can.
  • Provide a visual calendar for selecting dates. If users book things on a certain date through your website, like restaurant reservations, be sure to visually present a calendar to make it easier for users to select the right date.
  • Label forms clearly and error check entries. Make sure there is no confusion to the user on what they are inputting. A common error was when websites asked for an address but didn’t differentiate between street address and email address.
  • Make forms easy and efficient. Simpler forms broken into clearly labeled parts are easier for the user to navigate than complex, multi-part forms.

Easy on Mobile

There are a few other things you can do to simply make the site easier for the user on a mobile device, that will enhance their overall experience.

  • Optimize your entire site for mobile. If your pages are designed specifically for mobile, users will have an easier time navigating it then trying to navigate a desktop site on mobile devices.
  • Don’t make users pinch and zoom. When users have to pinch and zoom to access certain information, they are often frustrated and may exit the site. Design your mobile site so users won’t have to change the size.
  • Make product images expandable. Specifically, on retail sites, make any images of a product as easy to see as possible for the user. Any important images to your business’s offerings should be high-quality and close up.
  • Tell users which screen orientation works best. Make sure your website is designed for landscape or portrait and tell users when they need to switch a different orientation – however, be sure your users can complete important calls-to-action from either orientation.
  • Keep users in the same browsing window. Switching browsing windows is much more difficult for users on a mobile device than on a desktop. Try to avoid calls-to-action that take them to a new window for an easier user experience.

Get A Mobile-Friendly Website

As mentioned previously, you need a mobile-friendly website to compete in the digital space and keep up with competitors. Mobile-friendly website design and development is just one of the areas Atilus specializes in as a full-service digital agency. We are also certified specifically in mobile advertising by Google. For more information on our services, give us a call at 239-362-1271 or contact us online today!

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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