There was a time, long gone by, when having a desktop website was enough to increase brand awareness, drive product/services visibility, generate revenue and enhance profitability.
Having a website was the ‘in’ thing and every business wanted to create the kind of website setup that not only looked good (many businesses actually made this the key parameter determining success) but also brought in the moolah. A business without a website was called ANCIENT.
Today, having a website is a given in the hyper competitive world of business. But, there is a twist. Businesses are not just expected to have a website that works perfectly on PCs, desktops and laptops, audiences expect them to have a website that works perfectly on their handheld devices as well. Yes, the expectations of your target customers have changed and you need to cater to them. Not doing so, will just lead to heart burn resulting from decreasing revenue generation for your business.
Why Should Your WordPress Website Be Mobile Friendly?
There are many reasons why you need a mobile-friendly WordPress website:
Accessibility and Convenience
One of the key reasons why your business created a WordPress website was to make your business’s information, products/services easily accessible to potential customers. Well, this reason stands true for a mobile friendly website as well. In fact, such sites make your business even more accessible to their existing and potential customers as they can access your website anytime and anywhere, on the go.
This can increase the number of people accessing your site, which in turn will have a positive impact on the click-through and conversion rates of your business. What you are essentially doing is ensuring your website is always available for potential customers wherever they are. This improves revenue generation and scope of profits.
Helps Leverage Social Media
Do you know more than half of Facebook’s users access the service from their mobile phones? Did you know 83% of Twitter’s Q1 2016 monthly active users were on mobile? Now, why are these stats important for your website, especially your mobile-friendly website? Because you will have to leverage the immense popularity of social media for business benefits, and if a large percentage of social media users are accessing the various social platforms with their mobile phones, you need to make your website mobile friendly as well.
Imagine a scenario, wherein, a potential customer is going through his Facebook account using his smartphone, comes across your site’s link and lands up on your site. Horror of horrors, what if your site isn’t mobile friendly?You will definitely lose this customer – No doubt about that.
The Crazy Growing Popularity of Mobile Search
Another critically important reason for making your WordPress site mobile friendly is mobile search. According to Forrester, 87% of US smartphone owners depend on their mobile browser to search for information. Marketers have wised up to this fact, which is reflected in the mobile search spend that has increased 55% YOY. Google’s banking on mobile as well, with mobile driving its revenue growth.
Mobile friendliness is also a ranking signal on Google and it also rolled out a mobile friendly update that affects search rankings on mobile devices. Yes, it’s just one of the signals that Google uses to determine SERPs but it is an important signal.
Your Audience Expects a WordPress site that is Mobile Friendly
You know that saying, ‘Give the audience what they want’. Well, that’s what you are doing when you give them a mobile friendly WordPress site. Also, remember you are not doing them any favors. Most businesses these days offer their target customers a mobile friendly website and you should be doing the same; or you will lose your customers to your competitors. The equation is as simple as that.
All said and done, there is no reason why your site shouldn’t be mobile friendly. When you create a website, you must ensure it displays as correctly on mobile devices as on PCs because it makes great business sense. If you are looking at better branding, more visibility and more business profitability, your website cannot afford to alienate mobile devices. In fact, in today’s world they are your business’s best friends.
But that is provided you get your website’s mobile friendliness right. If you don’t get it right, you will still miss out on a huge and growing potential customer base that is using mobile devices to browse sites. What’s more, if your website isn’t mobile friendly enough, it will have diminishing conversion potential, which is as good as not having a mobile website.
I am sure many of you are aware about making a website in WordPress, but how do you go about creating a mobile friendly WordPress site.
Make Your WordPress Site Mobile Friendly
The following steps are critical to the process. Miss out on any one of them and your mobile friendly site won’t do justice to your brand:
Let’s go through them:
Step 1. Test, Test, Test
The first thing you need to do is go to Google’s very own mobile friendly testing tool, to judge the ‘friendliness quotient’ of your site vis-à-vis mobile devices. All you need to do, is key in the URL of your website, allow the tool to analyze its various aspects and wait for it to deliver its results. If you get a result in red, your website isn’t mobile friendly, but if it’s green, you are home free. There is nothing much left to do.
If the tool is saying ‘Not Mobile Ready’, here are some steps you need to follow from here on:
Step 2. Update your WordPress Installation
Now before you actually get started on the responsive theme selection that will help you make your site more responsive, there is something else you should do. Make sure you are using the latest ‘stable’ WordPress version available. What you need to do is go to the administration panel and check the version number that is visible right at the top of the Dashboard or near the footer (typically seen in older versions of WordPress).
You could also check the version through your WordPress website. All you need to do is view the‘source function’ of your web browser. The generation meta tag on the page will contain the version number.
If you find, you are not using the latest version of WordPress, update it to avail the various benefits in the form of security updates, patches, bug fixes that it brings to the table. There might be feature upgrades from the mobile point of view as well, which will benefit your website.
Step 3. Game of Themes
The mobile friendliness of your site is primarily based on themes. The first thing you must do after updating the WordPress version is to check whether your theme needs an update and if an updated theme is available. For that, Go to the Admin Panel and click on Appearance and then on Themes. If an update is available, you will find it here, otherwise you need to begin the process of picking a responsive theme.
The process of choosing a responsive theme for your website setup:
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard.
- Under Appearance, Click on Themes and then click on ‘Install Themes’.
- Search for a responsive theme by keying the appropriate keyword for e.g. ‘responsive’.
- This search will throw up results that include responsive themes; pick the one that is in perfect sync with the purpose and branding objectives of your site.
Note: Going the responsive way ensures you don’t have to come up with a separate mobile website or even multiple domains. This is the ‘one site fits all’ option and will save you a lot of money that will be otherwise spent on building a separate mobile site.
Also, if you don’t want to use a different theme for your desktop website and want to keep your current theme intact, you can use plenty of third party plugins for this purpose. A plugin like WP Touch ensures your website theme remains the same, but your mobile site visitors will be presented with a different theme.
There are plenty of options available out there, all you need to do is explore and pick the one that suits your needs best.
The use of the responsive theme or the third party plugins are going to make your site mobile friendly, and you can stop here. But, there are other steps you can follow to make your site even more mobile friendly.
If you want to continue:
Step 4: Load Site Faster
Google and your mobile site visitors not only want a site that renders perfectly on mobile screens, but also loads faster keeping the needs of mobile users in mind. Your primary targets in this regard are images. The problem with images is that they take a lot of time to load on mobile devices and if you can get them to load quickly, your site will load faster.
The solution for this problem lies in (you guessed it right) a plugin. One of the better plugins is WP–Smush; it has a feature called the imager smusher, which compresses all your website images and resizes them to improve the loading time for your site on a mobile device. So, go to the plugins area on the WordPress dashboard and install this or any other plugin that you deem fit.
Step 5: Test Again
While there is no doubt, your WordPress website will become mobile friendly once you follow the steps give above, test the site again. After all, it doesn’t take too much time and what if you’ve made a mistake somewhere and not realized it. Can’t take a chance with your site considering everything that it represents!
So that’s about it. If you follow these steps your WordPress website is now mobile friendly and a Google “darling”. Of course it’s not really as simple as deploying a responsive theme or a plugin. You need to get the other elements of the website absolutely right, which includes visuals, text, and call-to-action buttons amongst others. You will need to keep checking the engagement metrics of your site to see whether it’s doing just fine or changes are in order.
The good news is that you can pick from numerous plug-ins that will improve the lead generation and conversion quotient of your site. So, don’t worry.
Before I end this article, here are a few pitfalls to avoid, while making your WordPress site mobile friendly:
- Make sure content like videos used on your site are playable on mobile devices. Rather than choosing from the numerous proprietary video players available out there, it is advisable that your HTML 5 standard tags include videos and other animation.
What you must have gauged from this article is that the single most important factor that can help you create a mobile friendly WordPress site is ensuring responsive design is built into your WordPress theme. But to see that as a be all and end all for getting your WordPress site ready for a mobile audience will be erroneous. You will also need to think about how you are going to make the mobile website work for you. But that’s a completely different topic.