Mobile-Friendly Websites:

Why NOT ACCOUNTING FOR small screens IS A HUGE MISTAKE

AMY JACOBUS

Wordsmith, baker of layer cakes, frequenter of cutesy cafes, marketing brain and exercise enthusiast – among other joyous things.

Why are people still launching sites you can’t use on your phone?

I know I’ve already briefly touched on this subject in my post about Top Arts Marketing Pet Peeves… But I happen to be a member of several lovely entrepreneurial communities online where new business owners are taking the scrappy, do-it-yourself approach to website design.

And even though it is 2017, I have seen one too many sites launched in the last few months that are still not mobile friendly!

Cue me at my desk, LOSING MY MIND.

I feel all sorts of horrible when I see these sites go live. Passionate, excited creatives are eager for positive feedback from Facebook friends and Instagram followers.

But—I know it sounds extreme—my only feedback is: “You did it wrong. Please start over.”

We are living in a world where everyone we know is walking their dog outside, tripping over the curb, because they’re staring at their phones.

They’re looking up nearby pizza places on their phones while browsing the local thrift store.
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They’re Googling what else that actor has been in on their phones while watching Netflix.
They’re replying to Instagram comments on their phones while ordering coffee.

Yes, this is not healthy behavior. We are all going to end up hunched over permanently, with terrible back pain and bad vision and arthritic thumbs. (Kind of exaggerating, kind of not.)

So while we should absolutely encourage each other to set the phone down and actually speak to each other face to face at dinner, we also know using our phones to connect is not going out of fashion. Our handheld devices are tools for browsing, socializing, researching, ordering food, shopping and more.

If your website is not optimized for mobile use, you are at a devastating disadvantage. Let me tell you why.

#1. Google will ignore you.

This is a biggie, guys.

Google recognized early on (two whole years ago) that mobile use is increasing by the day. Because Google is often the first place someone will look for your services or events or knowledge and advice, you want your content to pop to the top of search results.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, Google will penalize you and push you down in the rankings. Your content is no longer seen as helpful to your users. So Google just won’t give it to them.

(Not sure if Google considers your site a dud? Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see.)

#2. Retention will be terrible.

We are already combatting very short attention spans and competing against many, many other platforms for our users’ time. My clients – nonprofits with limited budgets, small businesses stretched thin for time and artists with zero staff except themselves – have tons of hurdles to clear to get the attention of their audiences.

If you’ve actually welcomed them to your website, shouldn’t you give them the best experience possible? Wow them so they stick around and become a loyal fan? And tell their friends?

Now you’re asking them to suffer through a terrible experience? Pinching and pushing to find what they need in the navigation? Zooming in on text so they can click that tiny hyperlink? Not gonna happen. Your bounce rate will skyrocket. They’ll find what they need elsewhere.

#3. Your other efforts to lead folks to information and sales will be for naught.

Social media posts and digital ads are often more likely to be viewed and then clicked on from a phone. You worked so hard to get them to click, maybe even paid for them to click, and now they’ll just leave?!

Don’t waste money on Facebook and Instagram and Google ads that won’t see any return. Resources are scarce for all of us. Use them wisely!

The bottom line

Website design today should be approached with an effort to consider mobile first, or at least simultaneous to the desktop version of your site.

This rule applies to structure and design as well as content! Pay attention to these details during your design.

Upload any images you’re planning to use on your site to your phone. How do they look on mobile? Do they read just as beautifully?

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Write copy that is clear and concise. Add variety to text by creating headers and pull quotes, so your writing is easier to scan and still get the gist.

Consider the motion of scrolling, natural on the phone in the way you lay out pages and information.

Make action items and forms large enough to tap on with thumbs or fill in with fingers! (I have the fattest thumbs, guys. This is key for me as a user.)

The framework of your site must be updated or you’re losing business.

If you ended up with a new website that’s not up to standards for mobile, you may be able to save some of your work: copy and content. But the framework of your site must be updated or you’re losing business.

In theory, there is nothing wrong with a DIY approach.

I built my business and continue to build new skills through my commitment to finding worthy professional development opportunities, signing up for online trainings, attending in-person boot camps and reading shelves of books.

If you have the time, some of the basic skills and the patience to troubleshoot, you might just succeed in creating a beautiful, mobile-friendly website. Some platforms, like Squarespace, are responsive so you can rest easy about your design adapting to the size of any iPhone or Android screen. Divi Builder from Elegant Themes will show you a preview for mobile, tablet and desktop so you can watch how your design behaves on all three as you build your site.

and if you’re short on time…

Consider hiring a professional web designer. Email us if you’re looking for a beautiful and professional site that can grow with your company for years. Our sites for artists and nonprofits are affordable and adaptable. Because we know you have to be!!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.