Next month, Google will change its algorithms once again – and websites that aren’t optimised for mobile will fall by the wayside.
94% of people now use their mobiles to track down local information and, to make sure that these users get the best possible experience from their search, it is believed that Google will start to discriminate against sites that require a “pinch and zoom” to read text properly. Mobile-optimised sites reformat automatically to make the reading experience easier.
“Some of our customers have been putting off a redesign because they’re just too busy, but with this dirty great deadline looming, Google is somewhat forcing their hands,” explains Peter Gunning, Chief Technology Officer at the cross-media web studio nettl.com,
“In fairness to Google, they’re responding to what people want. If you search on your phone, and then go to a site where you need a magnifying glass to read the text, it’s a pain.
“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited a website on my phone to get a contact phone number for a business and it turns out to be a picture of a phone number on some obscure webpage. You need to make it easy for visitors, or quite simply they won’t come back.”
To avoid being sidelined, nettl recommends that companies take the following five points on board before the deadline:
1. Put yourself in their socks
Why are people visiting your site? Ask them. To get your opening times? To get directions? Make sure the things they need are easy to find.
2. Less is definitely more
Current design trends are for big easy-to-read text, lots of white space and simple layouts – gone are the days of animated intro pages and gimmicks.
3. Just get started
A website isn’t like a printed brochure. You don’t have to have it completely finished before you launch. Start with important pages and add more later. It’s easier on your time and your budget! Launch now, then grow.
4. Choose your partners wisely
Maybe the kid next door can knock you up a new site. But what happens when she goes off to ‘find herself’ in the jungle and your site goes down?
5. Trust the machine
You could build one website for mobile, one for tablet, and another for desktop, but that’s the most expensive option. Instead, most people opt for a ‘responsive’ design with a liquid layout. That means content reflows to fit the device viewing it. The rules behind this are complex and it means you’ll have to trust the machine rather than focusing on being pixel-perfect on every device.
… Want more advice? Take a look at this video from Eddie O’ Driscoll, MD of the digital marketing company DPFOC, which explains the changes in detail.