Business solutions

How to make a mobile-friendly website: Beginner’s step-by-step guide

21 min read
How to make a mobile-friendly website: Beginner’s step-by-step guide

It’s official now – mobile search is on the rise, and this tendency isn’t going to fade away anytime soon. Mobile is the future of the web. Actually, it is already here and now. So, why don’t you get on the bandwagon?

As a business owner, you should provide your customers with the effortless access to your site through their devices. What’s more, you have to make sure your text is readable and fit on the screen, pictures are seen well, and in general, your business is mobile-friendly.

Luckily, technology evolves, and it’s no longer an issue to optimise a website for mobile devices.

Mobile-friendly: What it means and why it matters

Mobile-friendly: What it means and why it matters

As the name suggests, a mobile-friendly site is the one designed and optimised so that users can view the content from their smart devices. It is no longer an optional solution or something nice to have but a must to future-proof your business.

Unless your site is compatible with mobile devices, you’re losing leads and killing your SEO. Here is why:

  • almost half of the world’s population uses smartphones (3.5 billion in 2020);
  • mobile devices generate over 50% of all website traffic;
  • 61% of buyers say that they’ll purchase only on the optimised sites.

Given the popularity of the mobile search, bend over backwards to provide users with appropriately-sized content, easy-to-use navigation and lightning-fast page speed. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep ahead of the competition.

Google’s mobile-friendly drive

Google’s ranking algorithm is another reason to double down on your mobile-friendly efforts. In 2015 Google guys rolled out the update that quickly got a nickname - Mobilegeddon.

If you’re still a stranger to this algorithm, here is a quick summary – no matter what you sell or do on the Internet, your existing website should be optimised for mobile devices. Otherwise, your position on Google search will be affected. The truth is – your site can even hit the Google SERP bottom.

As you can see, mobile-friendliness isn’t only about user experience. It is a make-or-break factor that can either boost your search engine ranking or bring it down. If that isn’t a valid reason to revamp your website, we don’t know what is.

How to find out whether your website is mobile-friendly or not

Before going any further, it’s crucial to understand where your business is in the mobile-first era. In simple English, you need to find out whether your site is compatible with smart devices or not. The easiest way to go is to check how it looks on a tablet or a mobile phone. But what’s really important is to check how Google sees it.

Fortunately, Google rolled out not only mobile-first indexing but also a webmaster tool aimed to test websites. It’s a free service, and you can try it right now.

Head over to the mobile-friendly check page and insert the link of your website in the search bar. Then push the “Analyze” button and wait for a moment. In a matter of seconds, you’ll be shown with the result. If your site has any usability errors, don’t panic. The system will display them and even give some tips on how to get up to par. Coupling them with our pieces of advice, you’ll be able to create a mobile-friendly site that Google doesn’t hate.

When all errors are ironed out, the webmaster tool will show you something like this:

The beauty of a responsive design

A responsive design is the first thing to consider when making a business mobile-friendly. Let’s take a look at what it is and why you need it.

As the term implies, a responsive site is developed to respond to the screen size of any device. To check how responsive your site is, shrink your browser window and see whether the content is changed to fit its size or not! If it is, then great! You can upgrade it by using our tips in the upcoming section and end it. If it isn’t, you need to fix your site or rebuild it completely.

Here is what you can do to adapt your business to mobile users:

Rebuilt your existing site using a website builder tool

Site builders with mobile-friendly templates included are a great option for business owners, especially those who aren’t adept at web design and coding but still understand the importance of having a mobile responsive business. Although you have to put efforts into rebuilding your site, you’ll end up with a one suitable for all devices.

Site builders usually offer e-commerce tools, high-class hosting and a drag-and-drop interface. Besides, they don’t cost much. Unlike a team of web-developers and designers, it’s considered to be a low-cost solution.

Here are some tools to explore:

  • Weebly
  • Shopify
  • Jimbo
  • Gator
  • Templated
  • and the list goes on and on

We aren’t here to advertise any of the platforms. If you are interested in this way of delivering a superior user interface, do your own research to find the platform that suits you best.

Install a ready-made WordPress responsive template

WordPress is the world’s most popular web design tool and open-source site creation platform. If you have a WP site or planning to get one, you might already know that there are thousands of plugins and templates available out there. And many of them are mobile-friendly.

To make your website mobile-friendly by installing a responsive theme, go to the WP dashboard, open the “Appearance” section and click on “Themes”. Type “responsive” in the search bar to be brought up only with mobile-friendly options. Then look through them carefully and choose the one that fits you best. Push the “install” button and check how well your site is displayed on mobile devices.

WP is designed in a way that you can have access to its source code. If you want, you can tweak the template so that it meshes with your needs. If you are a stranger to programming, get a developer to customise it or change certain elements yourself by making use of a drag-and-drop interface.

Resort to professionals

You can always get someone to develop a site from the ground up, especially if you have ideas that are difficult to bring to realisation by using plugins and templates. But get ready to double or even triple the costs to hire a designer and webmaster as compared to using a template-based approach.

If you need to modify an existing website, a developer can do that for you. But if your site is very old or of low quality, consider ordering a new one. That’s like with a car – if your vehicle is over 30-40 years old, that would be hard to upgrade it to the look and functionality of the modern car.

Your requirements also matter. For example, adjusting the website to the width of the smartphone screen won’t take as much time as if you want to include a search function and sidebars or rearrange blocks.

Once you have a responsive design, don’t gloss over following our advice to make your site even more mobile-friendly.

How to design a mobile-friendly website: 8 Actionable tips

Now that you understand the power and importance of the mobile-friendly design, here are a few more things to consider when making your business appealing to smartphone users.

1. Keep the thumb zone in mind

Easy-to-manage navigation is the key to your website success. First off, buttons need to be big enough so users can easily push them with their fingers. They also must be separated from each other by enough space. You don’t want your visitors to click several buttons accidentally, do you?

Button size is truly important, but the placement of the clickable elements on the screen is even more critical. Statistics say that 75% of smartphone clicks are thumb-driven. And if a user can’t reach whatever they need to with their thumb, they get frustrated and might leave. So, don’t lay any essential elements in the corners or at the top of the web page. Alternatively, make sure to place them all within a thumb’s reach.

People don’t only push buttons with their fingers. They also need to zoom in on small objects by pinching and swipe pictures by moving their fingers over the screen. If you don’t want to lose customers, add those functionalities to the mobile version of your site.

2. Weed out complicated fields

We all turn thumbs down on filling in zillions of complicated fields when ordering something. When it comes to smart devices, things get even worse, especially when fields are too small to be tapped with a finger. Unless you want your visitors to struggle with lots of useless lines of the fill-out form, get rid of them. Otherwise, that can kill your conversion rate.

Keep your checkout form as simple as it’s possible. You don’t really need to know your buyer’s favourite movie genre. Billing and shipping details are all that matter. And make sure to turn off the autocorrect function. It is really annoying to fill in the mail address over again just because the system doesn’t believe it starts with a small letter.

To lure visitors into your subscription, think twice before putting in one more line to the form. If you collect email addresses to get users to subscribe to your email list, don’t ask their phone number, age, gender and whatever.

3. Ensure smooth payments

Your products can be top-quality, and your site is mobile optimised, but if you don’t provide customers with seamless payment methods, you won't get paid. With this in mind, offer your visitors as many payment solutions as you can.

Nearly75% of buyers prefer covering bills with their bank cards. Add this method to your online store, and rest assured that they will be grateful for that. Apple/Google Pay is another must-have solution for mobile business. Given the customers’ love to get what they want in a click, you’d better provide them with this payment option. If you sell abroad, consider adding different currencies so that foreign buyers can shop on your site in a snap.

Here at Tranzzo, we can’t make your site mobile-friendly, but we definitely know the ropes in payments. Among our solutions are recurring billing, card and one-click payments, online-invoicing, and so much more. Besides, we not only offer payment instruments but also monitor all your transactions to keep them on the safe side. By leveraging a three-level anti-fraud system, we prevent any fraudulent machinations ever possible.

Take a glance at our pricing plans and ensure a seamless shopping experience for your clients.

4. Simplify your menus

A laptop screen is way bigger than a mobile one. You know that, right? Let this obvious idea be your guiding light when working on your menu and the whole design in general. That’s precisely when “the simpler – the better” rule is up to a point.

What you can do is to reduce the number of your website sections presented in the menu navigation. Instead of displaying all you have, show your visitors 3-7 main sections. They can find everything else in a drop-down.

To save your customers the trouble of doing multiple clicks, you can give a breadcrumb trail a shot. It is a navigation system, which name came to us from the Hansel and Gretel fairytale. Remember the story about two kids who use breadcrumbs to find their way back home? Just like the main characters, your visitors can be shown their location, although not in the forest but within the website’s hierarchy.

5. Use a search function to your advantage

Simplifying a menu may be an uphill battle for those who have a handful of product categories. Of course, you don’t need to cut your assortment just to accommodate your site to mobile users. There is another way to go, and it’s called a search function.

Not to kill your customers’ interest to your business by a complex menu, let them type in whatever they need in a search bar. That will allow your visitors to get access to the desired products without looking through the numerous menu options.

6. Turn off pop-ups

It’s common knowledge that people don’t like (read: “hate”) pop-ups, especially when they block the view of the whole web page. Hoping that users will throw everything at the search for the tiny X is a waste of time. If they aren’t diehard brand loyalists, they’ll click away in a matter of seconds without giving your site a second chance.

Your visitors will appreciate you getting rid of this type of advertising once and for all. If you can’t do that, at least disable it for mobile. Or set up pop-ups in a way that won’t annoy your customers. For example, let the ads appear when a user is at the bottom of the webpage not just landed on it.

7. Keep your text blocks as short as possible

Unless you’re a blogger and long reads are your bread and butter, massive blocks of text is a definite no-no. You’d better put a premium on visuals. Try to communicate with your clients by showing them stunning photos of your products, and your website will go a long way.

Sure, you need words to lure people into your sales funnel. But don’t go over the top with them. Here are 4 rules to follow when it comes to the text on your mobile website:

  • keep your sentences short and clear so that users can comprehend your message without getting tired and annoyed;
  • make use of bullet points to present the benefits of your product;
  • copy formatting is a must as no one will waste time reading a one-paragraph text;
  • leverage text colours, types, sizes and fonts to stand out essential elements in the text;
  • complement blocks of text with visuals.

8. Speed matters

People are too busy to wait until all pages of your website are loaded. And statistics is the best proof of that:

  • over 50% of mobile users expect the loading speed of webpages to be under 4 seconds;
  • 74% of visitors say that they’ll click away if they need to wait more than 5 seconds;
  • 46% of buyers say that the loading speed is the #1 reason why they’ll purchase on the website again.

Fortunately, you can expedite the loading speed of your site by keeping it as simple as possible. Just follow the principles mentioned above, avoiding complex forms, sophisticated menus, heavy pictures and a massive portion of text. By simplifying your design, you’ll speed up your website and boost your conversions.

When all is done, and your website is appealing to mobile users, don’t stop here. It’s just the beginning of your journey called smartphone optimisation. The way mobile devices look and function is going to change, and you’d better get a line on all the updates. Keep testing and tinkering with your project, having your users’ needs in mind.

Should you consider one-click payments for your mobile website, get ahold of our customer support team for more information.