Is Your Site Really Mobile Ready And Does It Really Matter?

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Is your site really mobile ready? (Photo by Nokhoog Buchachon)

Today as I prepared to write this short Thanksgiving Week post I checked the stats on my sites and a few of my client’s sites. The percentage of mobile visitors ranges from 7.8% on a local website services company (client) to 38.8% on my own SocialMediaEdge.com website. These are the numbers provided by Google Analytics installed on each site.  Imagine if none of these sites (and the one client has refused to allow me to get their site mobile ready) did not make provisions for mobile. Can you imagine not delivering the optimal content to as much as nearly 40% of your site visitors?

Is It Really Mobile Ready?

There are many folks who sell services claiming they provide “mobile ready” web sites and content. Be alert to anyone who simply wants to install a “responsive theme” and pronounce your site “mobile ready”. While using responsive design which serves the same URLs to visitors using a mobile as visitors using a laptop or desktop is the preferred method of Google it needs to go a few steps farther. We’ll talk about those in just a moment.

What Is Responsive Design?

“Responsive web design is a technique to build web pages that alter how they look using CSS3 media queries. That is, there is one HTML code for the page regardless of the device accessing it, but its presentation changes using CSS media queries to specify which CSS rules apply for the browser displaying the page.” (Google)

Responsive design is another step toward the future. It allows the web developer to make the web designer’s efforts work on all platforms on all browsers on all devices. While up until the creation of CSS3 and browsers being created to make use of the convention your designer and developer would have to often create different sites for different user configurations. Of course this made real web development more costly and time consuming. With the new Style Sheets changing the look and feel of complete websites involves mostly using compliant CSS3 and a few graphics adjust to size where necessary.

But It Looks Good On My Device

Congratulations. How does it look on other devices? Back in the early days of the web I would have clients call and tell me how great their website looked. Upon questioning I would discover they were using Internet Explorer, almost invariably, so how could I have told them their site could use improvement? Simply because I was probably using either Netscape or Mosaic. In those days web developers really needed several browsers installed on a couple of different machines because convention was thin at best. Today we know there are dozens of configurations on dozens of devices so staying with convention is always recommended – unfortunately not always followed.

Just because you have WordPress or Joomla, or any of a number of other CMS platforms installed, does not guarantee your site is mobile compliant. In fact it doesn’t guarantee your website follows convention at all.  The only way to truly know is to have a full evaluation of your site performed. While you can use a few free online tools each of them gives only a part of the story. A designated professional developer can look at your site and in a short time determine just how compliant your site is with many facets of web design and development and offer recommendations and a quote of what it will take to get you back into shape for the future.