How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly: 16 Proven Tips

How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly: 16 Proven Tips

Having a mobile-friendly website is a must for all website owners. This is because 56% of website traffic comes from mobile usage, indicating that more people prefer to access the internet via mobile devices.

It has led Google to switch to mobile-first indexing, prioritizing mobile-optimized websites when ranking pages. It means that if you want to stay ahead of the competition and increase traffic, you have to make your website mobile-friendly.

This article will share some helpful tips on how to make a website mobile-friendly and further explaining why it’s essential to have one.

16 Proven Tips How to Make a Website Mobile-Friendly

Making your website mobile-friendly requires a bit of technical knowledge, but we’ll guide you through it. Here are several ways on how to make a website mobile-friendly:

1. Start With a Mobile-First Approach

The mobile-first approach is the practice of developing and designing for mobile, then moving to desktop.

Some developers and designers work for desktop first and then scale down the design for mobile. However, now that mobile-first indexing exists, reversing this workflow will help you optimize the design from the start.

2. Convert or Recreate a Desktop Site for Mobile

If you already have a fully functioning website but it’s not optimized for mobile usage yet, convert or recreate it on a mobile version.

There are two methods to do so – by using website builders or CMS plugins.

Recreate a Desktop Site With a Website Builder

If you opt to create a new site for mobile users, use a website builder to recreate the desktop design easily and without coding. Keep in mind that it’s not possible to import your website files from another platform, but you can get somewhat close to its original design.

Website builders offer an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that saves you time and resources when developing a mobile-friendly website.

They also offer responsive templates that automatically adapt to any device that visitors use, so you don’t have to start designing from scratch.

Zyro's homepage

Some of the most popular website builders include Shopify, Wix, and Zyro.

Zyro’s subscription plans range from $2.90 to $14.90/month. Its advanced features include eCommerce functions like order and inventory management and AI tools such as an AI Writer that generates content for your website.

In addition to that, it offers mobile optimization and fast load speed out-of-the-box.

Converting a Website Using a CMS Plugin

CMS’ themes nowadays are already built to be responsive. However, if your theme is not mobile-ready yet, a plugin is a way to go.

For WordPress users, WPtouch Pro helps transform how your WordPress site looks and works on mobile devices. Include or exclude specific pages for your mobile site, and even specify a different homepage for it.

WPtouch Pro plugin for WordPress

Install and activate it, and you’ll be able to convert or configure your desktop site into a mobile-friendly site in only a few steps.

If you use Joomla, convert your site using Responsivizer. Its features include adaptive image resizing and optimization, great for speeding up your site.

3. Use a Responsive Theme

Using a responsive theme is a simple, convenient option for website beginners or non-technical users to create a mobile-friendly website. By installing this type of theme, your website will automatically adapt to any device.

If you just started creating a website, using a responsive theme will make it mobile-friendly from the start. However, if you already have an established desktop website, make sure to back up the website before switching themes.

Ensure that it’s possible to restore the site’s previous version if any changes cause a crash.

Almost all CMS themes and website builder templates come with responsive design, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

If you still can’t find one that suits your needs and preferences, third-party theme marketplaces like Theme Forest also offer numerous options.

Theme Forest's homepage

Read theme reviews and check sites that use your desired theme on a mobile device. This allows you to test the theme’s user experience and performance.

As speed is one of the most critical factors when it comes to responsiveness, use Pingdom to test whether the theme loads quickly.

Pingdom website speed test tool

For example, let’s use one of WordPress’ most popular responsive themes on the market, Avada. We’re using the Avada Festival live demo for this test.

Enter the demo’s URL on Pingdom’s and choose the test location – it’s possible to test your site performance in any region in the world. Click the Start Test button.

Pingdom speed test's results

The test will show your website’s performance grade, page size, load time, and the number of requests. It will also give some suggestions on how to improve speed.

It helps you assess how fast the theme is, if it is lightweight and what you can do to improve its speed, making it more mobile-friendly.

4. Don’t Use Flash

Adobe stopped Flash’s development on December 30, 2020, meaning none of the major browsers – such as Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox – supports it.

Now, most Flash-based content has been updated to modern standards such as HTML5 and WebGL.

5. Optimize Site’s Speed

Your web hosting and server quality heavily influence your website performance. Choose a web hosting provider that is fast and reliable so your website can run at an optimal speed.

Hostinger's homepage

For better performance, we recommend using Cloud or VPS hosting. They offer the best server response speed, a crucial element when it comes to your site’s performance.

Another aspect you need to consider when optimizing your site’s speed is the number of content pages that require an additional plugin to run. This is especially true when it comes to the homepage.

Here are some tips to ensure your homepage is not slowing your website down:

  • Reduce the number of articles on the home page to around 5-10 posts.
  • Remove any unnecessary or unused widgets.
  • Get rid of any inactive or irrelevant plugins.

6. Pay Attention to the Site’s Appearance

While your content is the main reason people are drawn to the website, its design significantly impacts your site’s bounce rate. Therefore, you need to make a good impression from the very beginning.

To check how mobile-friendly your site is, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. It only requires your site’s URL to run the test.

Google's mobile-friendly test tool

The Mobile-Friendly Test tool will provide a detailed analysis of your website. It will visualize your site on various mobile devices and remarks on whether it is mobile-friendly or not.

It will also recommend several actions to take to make your website perform better.

7. Enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a framework that aims to speed up the load times of your mobile site.

It restricts HTML/CSS and JavaScript, compressing site data to eight times smaller than a regular mobile web page. This results in up to four times faster loading processes.

Here are some of the other advantages of using AMP.

It Accelerates the Site’s Loading Time in Mobile Devices

More than 50% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Luckily, AMP increases your site’s speed so that you won’t lose that precious organic traffic.

AMP itself is not among SEO ranking factors, but speed is. That’s why AMP pages tend to rank higher on SERPs.

It Improves Your Site’s Visibility Among Users

On mobile SERPs, Google displays AMP websites with a “lightning” symbol.

SERPs displaying AMP-powered websites

It allows users to identify which websites are AMP-powered. Mobile users tend to look for sites with AMP symbols since they’ll get the information they want faster.

It Uses Google AMP Cache to Improve Server Performance

Google AMP Cache is a proxy-based content delivery network (CDN) for facilitating the transfer process from valid AMP documents to users.

In other words, Google AMP Cache will keep your site’s data, allowing it to load quicker and be more mobile-friendly.

Some of the main features of Google AMP Cache that can improve your server performance are:

  • It saves images and font data.
  • Automatically limits the maximum dimensions of the image.
  • Image formats are converted into WebP to be more mobile-friendly.
  • Lowers the images’ quality to speed up the loading process without affecting their appearance.
  • It uses secure HTTP channels and the latest web protocol technology, such as SPDY and HTTP/2.

Enabling AMP depends on what CMS you use. If your website is powered by WordPress, use the AMP plugin to generate AMP versions of your pages automatically.

If your site is not WordPress-based, create an AMP page from scratch or convert an HTML page to AMP.

8. Utilize Media Queries

Media queries are used to serve a tailored style sheet for different devices. It asks the device what size it is, then directs the browser to display a web page based on the set of cascading style sheets (CSS) you have set.

They’re a crucial part of a mobile-friendly site, enabling your site’s auto-adjustment to different screen sizes.

Here’s an example of a media query in a CSS file:

}
/* On screens that are 640px wide or less, use two columns instead of four columns */
@media screen and (max-width: 640px) {
  .column {
    width: 50%;
}

In the example above, the code will only apply to screens that are 640 pixels wide or less, changing the column arrangement to fit them better.

Ensure that you configure your media queries for all device sizes, not just the most popular types.

Visual test tools like CrossBrowserTesting can help you test your site on more than 2000 browsers and mobile devices.

9. Use Standard Fonts

Standard fonts like Open Sans and Droid Sans are easy to read, even on mobile phone’s smaller screens.

Font comparison: Open Sans vs Noto Serif SC vs Noto Sans JP

On the other hand, custom and creative fonts like Pacifico can make your site look more visually appealing, but it’s hard to read if you use it for content body texts.

It may also prompt your site visitors to download new fonts to their phones, harming the user experience and making them leave immediately.

Consider font size as well – the ideal text size for the main content body on a mobile site is 16 pixels. Secondary and tertiary texts, such as captions and labels, can be 2 pixels smaller than the body text.

Different fonts can be more or less readable at the same size, so always test them by reading the text on an actual mobile device.

10. Optimize Images

When dealing with mobile sites, the goal is to create the smallest size possible without losing the images’ overall quality. This is because mobile devices have much smaller bandwidth than desktops, so large image files will take more time to load.

Many mobile users also use a limited data plan, so small image sizes can help them use less amount of data.

There are two ways to optimize your images – by using visual editing software or plugins.

TinyPNG image compression

If you choose to optimize your images using visual editing software, you have to do so before uploading those files. Use Adobe Photoshop or web tools such as TinyPNG or ImageResizer.

ShortPixel plugin for WordPress

If you use WordPress, plugins like ShortPixel or Compress JPEG & PNG Images can automatically compress your images when you upload them.

11. Use Percentages Instead of Pixels

There are widely different mobile resolutions out there. If you have your images in a fixed-pixel margin setting, your images will not scale down properly on smaller screens. This makes your visitors have to scroll horizontally as your image exceeds the screen width.

For example, the James Bond Museum website’s header banner uses fixed-pixel instead of a percentage configuration, so you have to scroll horizontally to view the entire banner.

It’s also possible to zoom out, but the text inside and around the banner will be harder to read.

James Bond museum's mobile website

Tweak your CSS to configure the image display on your mobile pages. It will help provide a consistent viewing experience and visual impact across all devices.

Mobile sites have smaller screens, so it’s important to give your links a sufficient distance from each other so that your visitors won’t accidentally tap on the wrong URL.

Moreover, try to only link to web pages that are also mobile-friendly for a seamless experience.

13. Optimize Button Placement

When it comes to call-to-action (CTA) buttons, you should make them easy to spot. In other words, you have to make the buttons large enough to be tapped with a thumb and place them in strategic locations.

A graphic illustration showing a good and a bad example of CTA placement in a website.

As most mobile users use their smartphone with one hand, place your CTA in a convenient location for one-hand usage. For example, put your CTA button in the middle of the screen since it’s easier to reach than if you put it on the screen’s corners.

If you have more than one button on your mobile website page, decide which one has the higher priority. Place those buttons bigger in size to immediately catch your visitors’ attention.

Magic Spoon's mobile website

For example, Magic Spoon’s desktop version has three CTAs – Shop Now, Try Now, and Explore. However, it only has one CTA on the mobile site – the Try Now button, representing their primary intent.

14. Reduce the Number of Pop-Ups

On desktop sites, pop-ups can help increase conversions and are easy to close. On the other hand, displaying them on your mobile website can annoy visitors.

Mobile users can accidentally click on a pop-up which might direct them to a new page. This unpleasant user experience may make them leave your site.

It’s best to disable pop-ups on your mobile website entirely, but if you need them to promote your intent, use them more strategically.

Alternatively, use other website elements for promotion purposes, such as a less-intrusive top banner, and accompany it with a moderate-size close button.

Conde Nast Traveller's website for mobile

Keep in mind that Google penalizes websites that use intrusive pop-ups. It means that if your site has a full-page pop-up that blocks the whole screen or appears as soon as someone visits it, Google may read your site as less accessible for users.

It will make your site rank poorly on SERPs, reducing your organic traffic.

15. Use the Viewport Meta Tag

The viewport is the visible area of a web page. The viewport meta tag is an easy way to control its scale to show up on different devices properly.

This meta tag tells browsers to fit your web page’s width to the particular screen size that a visitor uses to access the site.

To apply it, insert the following code snippet onto the <head> tags of your website HTML page:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

16. Turn Off Autocorrect on Forms

If you have forms on your website, it’s better to turn off the autocorrect feature on all the form fields. This way, your visitors won’t find their name or email address changed to common words, which is annoying and slows down the form-filling process.

To do so, add autocorrect=”off” in the input field of your HTML. The updated input should look like this:

<input spellcheck="false" autocorrect="off" type="text" />

Also, make sure that your forms are short. Forms that are too long are inconvenient to fill out no matter the device, especially smartphones.

Why Does a Website Have to Be Mobile-Friendly?

People prefer to access the internet via mobile devices. It allows them to perform many different activities such as reading online articles or making money transactions at any time and from anywhere. Therefore, having a mobile-friendly website will help you reach this potential demographic.

Furthermore, revenue from mobile commerce sales in 2021 should pass $3.5 trillion, 3.5 times more than in 2016. That means mobile-optimized sites can help expand your business to a whole new level.

However, if your website is not mobile-friendly, Google will rank it lower on its SERP, which may cause significant traffic loss.

Why Is Responsive Web Design Important?

Having a mobile-friendly website means your website visitors will have the best user experience regardless of the device they use to access it.

This can be achieved by applying any of these practices:

  • Responsive design. An approach to web design that automatically adapts the content to fit different screen sizes and orientations.
  • Dynamic serving. A setup where the server responds with different codes for the same URL based on the user’s device.
  • Separate URL. An individual domain dedicated to mobile users such as m.mysite.com.
  • Mobile app. An entirely separate application for mobile users.

Among the four methods, responsive design is the most popular choice – even Google recommends using it. Here are some reasons why using responsive web design brings more benefits than the other methods:

1. Better SEO

Responsive sites use the same URL and HTML regardless of the device used to access the page. This allows Google to explore, index, and manage the site’s content more easily and efficiently. As a result, your website will have better SEO quality.

On the other hand, a separate URL requires more SEO effort since Google might treat them as independent websites. Thus, your mobile URL might not rank as well as the original site and vice-versa.

Mobile app optimization does differ since SEO only applies to website search engines. Instead, use the App Search Optimization (ASO) – the practice is similar to SEO, only on a different platform.

2. No Need to Create a New Web Design

A responsive design will automatically adjust the height, width, and resolution to fit various screen sizes. The content will remain the same, but the web page will adapt its layout to the visitor’s particular device.

For example, Rolling Stone has numerous items on its top menu bar if you open the site via a desktop browser. It helps desktop users to click directly on the topic they are interested in.

Rolling Stone magazine website

On the other hand, the mobile site has a more straightforward menu – it puts all the items inside a “hamburger button”. This button doesn’t take much space on small screens, allowing users to focus on the content.

Rolling Stone's website for mobile devices

Responsive design offers a streamlined solution that saves a lot of your time and energy since you don’t have to create two different website designs from scratch.

However, if you choose to go with a separate URL or mobile app, you’ll need to create different designs.

3. Easy to Manage

A responsive website is easy to manage and maintain since all updates you make will appear on all website versions. There will be no difference in the content which appears on a PC or mobile device.

Moreover, a responsive website’s operational costs are lower since you do not need to develop different websites for desktop and mobile devices.

Dynamic serving also allows you to maintain several site versions via a single website, but its implementation requires higher costs and a dedicated IT staff to manage the source code.

Conclusion

Pursuing success online means that you need to adapt to the latest trends in technology. Now that more than half of the internet users prefer to access websites via mobile devices, it’s best to place mobile optimization as a priority.

To make your website mobile-friendly, the best solution is to start with a mobile-first approach. It means creating your site using a responsive web design and following other recommendations such as:

  • Optimize your site’s speed and enable Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP)
  • Utilize media queries and the viewport meta tag
  • Use standard fonts
  • Optimize your images and use percentages instead of pixels
  • Space out the links and optimize button placement
  • Reduce the number of pop-ups

If you use WordPress or other CMSs, there are helpful plugins and tools to convert your desktop site to a mobile site. Alternatively, use a website builder to recreate the design for mobile quickly.

By applying the tips mentioned above, we believe your website will have a greater chance to thrive and obtain better organic traffic in the future.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions for making a mobile-friendly website.

Author
The author

Maya A.

Maya is a website development enthusiast and a content writer at Hostinger. When she's not writing, you can find her watching sci-fi movies while eating ramen.