Google Search On Apple iPad2 - mobile marketing for retailersWith less than a week to go before Google launches its mobile-friendly algorithm on 21st April, we thought it would be a good idea to run through a quick checklist that will help you measure your websites responsiveness to mobile devices.

Google has been pushing web owners to improve user-experience across all devices for a good half decade now and the latest upgrade to their – sometimes – beastly algorithms, is the last chance for business owners and blog keepers to accommodate mobile users.

The first check, and quickest check, you can make is to run your URL through Google’s ‘Mobile-Friendly’ checker. This will give you a response to the basic responsive requirements you need on your site to ensure your website is at least responsive.

Should you pass, you can breathe a slight sigh of relief. Your website will still rank at least. However, this mobile-friendly checkers cannot measure how good the user-experience is on your website. But will search engine crawlers?

Improving user-experience

We do not know yet how Google’s algorithm will work. It may just be as simple as their mobile-friendly test, but given the search engine giant is on a mission to improve the overall UE of the internet, a basic responsive check on websites is hardly likely.

It is certainly best practice not to take any chances!
We will assume you have consulted a web developer who understands how to layout your web pages so they are responsive and user-friendly so will not waste too much time with regards your web design.

What we should mention however, is that copy should be kept to a minimum on your homepage and each category, product, service, landing page and any other pages should have their own space. As an aside, the content should be tightly focused on the theme of any one specific page. This is for improved ranking purposes.

Mobile images

Images are vitally important for websites for a number of reasons; they provide visual aids, make the page more attractive and are key to attracting clicks. However, they account for around 60% of your total page content and can be heavy.

Ideally, you should have a content management system which is intuitive and automatically sizes images so they do not take too much data. Large, heavy images run slow on mobile connections, and slow is a no-go. If your website has not loaded up within 3-5 seconds, users attempting to access your site will probably give up and leave.

You may have choices to make. The hero image on the homepage of your website for example, may be 2000 pixels too big, and whilst it may look the dog’s glandulars, is more likely to lose your more visitors than inspire buyers.

Cache settings

Mobile users have not changed the game per se, but have changed the tactics web developers need to employ to play a good match. You need to look for ways to minimise your page resources and cut down upload speeds.

One way of doing this is to cache your CSS, JavaScript and images so that visitors only download the info on their first visit. When they call again they automatically have the url waiting to be clicked from their browser.

Ditch the GIFs

Whilst you need to ramp up on time-saving features, you also need to ditch anything that is weighing you down and animated GIF’s are heeeavy. They look great and it is a shame to see them go, but this bloatware is 30 years old – probably older than most of your visitors.

There is good news however – ditching the GIF’s does not mean you have to drop video clips and animated film altogether, just the software. Switching to HTML5 video will reduce the size of the file by around 10% and give you’re the same results feature, only with faster download speeds.

Also look out for HTTP/2 as well, the soon-to-be internet upgrade which – we hope – is being specifically designed to improve overall web performance on mobile devices. At the time of writing, an estimated launch date has not been announced, so to say later this year may be jumping the gun. Seems we have plenty of time to sleep on it!

However, whilst we wait the spanking new platform, making tweaks to your current website to create a reliable and responsive user-experience for mobile devices is essential.