As more people browse the Internet from mobile devices more than desktop computers, there is an emphasis on requiring responsive design. However, not everyone puts the same effort into accommodating hand-held technology. Just because the layout seems responsive, it doesn’t mean it’s perfect for smartphones.
Creating a website starts with having a good web hosting platform. After that, it’s up to the developer to deliver the perfect experience for his or her visitors. Whether it’s a blog on a shared server or setting up eCommerce through VPS hosting, the hardware can only do so much.
Below are effective ways anyone can build a responsive website. Aside from picking a mobile-friendly theme or layout, it’s important these steps be followed to improve success.
1. Make Speed Your Priority
Speed is vastly important when it comes to delivering a website. Not only will visitors most likely abandon a slower website, but it also plays into search engine optimization. This is true regardless of what kind of device visitors are using.
A few ways to enhance the speed of the website include:
- Activate an optimized theme:While some themes and layouts may be responsive, not all of them are optimized or as fast as others.
- Use a Content Delivery Network:A CDN is an easy way to boost the speed of any website by eliminating geographic distance as a factor.
- Install lazy loading:Lazy loading is when graphics and content are only accessed by the browser when they are needed instead of when the page loads.
- Limit the use of external add-ons:Things like ad-sharing networks, affiliates and other links to third-parties have potential to slow a website.
- Choose the right hosting:Some plans simply offer greater speed advantages, such as VPS hosting over shared servers.
Taking steps to improve the speed of the site improves accessibility for everyone. Whether they are on computers or smartphones, everyone wins.
2. Focus on Easy-to-Touch Navigation
When developing the website, keep in mind that not everyone uses a 22-inch widescreen monitor capable of 1680 by 1050 pixel resolution. Buttons and links need to be easy to tap with a finger on the smallest of displays. Even though many smartphones today have much wider screens, developers don’t want to alienate those still using 480 wide resolution devices.
The majority of Internet users like easy navigation. If the average online visitor has to pinch-to-zoom to click a simple link because it is too close to others, it can be annoying. While this complication may not seem like a lot to some developers, it can easily take away from the experience.
This can lead to people looking for other sources of the same content. And because the Internet is full of competition, finding these other sources is relatively easy.
3. Use Properly Sized Imagery
One of the biggest problems many websites have is the use of improperly sized images. Instead of editing a photograph and making it the correct size for the webpage, developers will often use code. However, this does not make the image smaller when it comes to actual size.
When a 3000 pixel wide image is shrunk by using something like: <img src=”/YourGraphic.jpg” width=”150″>, the entire graphic is still downloaded by the visitor in its original size of 3000. This can easily slow down the website on smartphones, especially if someone is on a slower wireless network.
Using the exact size of the image needed for the webpage is far more ideal. Even if a creator doesn’t have access to image editing tools like Photoshop, he or she can still use free web-based graphic design software like Pixlr. This particular system is similar to Photoshop in every way and doesn’t require registration to use.
4. Use Shorter Headers
One element many developers often forget is using shorter headers and titles. While a long and drawn-out title may get the eye’s attention on a desktop computer screen, it can look horrible for those on mobile devices.
Browsing the website itself is not the only aspect of the title on mobile devices, either. During a search result, titles can easily be cut off from being seeing if they are too long on a smaller display. A header that is too long often takes away from the user experience, especially if a person cannot read the line in full.
Most Internet users will “skim” content to find what they are looking for. This includes the search results page from sites like Google. If the header is too long, the person’s eyes may simply gloss over it while looking for something more engaging.
5. Slim Down Navigation
A navigation menu with too much listed can be a distraction. Luckily, many developers using tools like WordPress or Joomla can get around long menus through optimizing. However, putting too much in the list may be overwhelming when viewing it from a mobile device.
This is why a lot of site creators will only display what is absolutely necessary. Others will contain components within a menu control that expands into sub-menus. In either case, it’s about condensing what is visible form a mobile device.
If the menu fills up the first screen a mobile visitor sees, it will take away from the experience. Some may even feel overwhelmed by the appearance of these controls. Keep in mind that most online users want instant gratification. They want their content now without having to sift through a long list of menu options or graphics.
Keep the navigation simple yet effective for all users of the website.
The above steps work on virtually any kind of website platform. From online shopping on a VPS hosting service to blogging about cats, being responsive is key to driving visitors in today’s world. It’s all about delivering a great experience to people whether they are on a desktop computer plugged into fiber optic Internet or browsing on a tablet from a near-by coffee house with wireless access.