A Google Friendly Checklist for Your Mobile Website

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Designing your website to be compatible with mobile devices can be a tricky thing to get right, no matter whether an industry veteran or a start-up looking to design their first website. Thankfully, Google is looking to help developers with ease of mobile development with their own checklist that will help provide a simpler path to improving your website in preparation for mobile users. This checklist covers any and all aspects of building a mobile-compatible website, such as ways to attract and keep mobile customers and the means to create a larger revenue stream. Here’s a centralized look at some of the most important aspects of the Google checklist.

Customer-Related Improvements

At its most basic, the Google checklist covers a number of recommendations surrounding increasing your sales as a developer, while also giving the consumer the best user experience possible when using their mobile phones. One of the most basic, yet easily overlooked, things you need to start with is removing all of those extra windows that tend to pop-up, such as javascript and the like, as they can be tediously aggravating for mobile users to close. As is described by Google, the basis of step 1 is to stop frustrating your customers, and the aforementioned is one of the key aspects of that goal. The other similar windows that can pop up for mobile users include Overlays, which are often used for downloading apps, as well as survey requests. One of the foremost recommendations that they provide to replace those pop-ups with are the iOS 6 plus Smart App Banners.

For those that are already having a tough time with attracting mobile customers due to poor customer experience feedback, Google also provides a number of possible corrections to this common problem that may start allowing you to receive better feedback. The most important aspect to this is to first identify the areas in which your website is providing a poor user experience. This will allow you to better understand how to implement current and future corrections. First, it’s recommended that you check to see if a certain page of the mobile website has much higher than usual bounce rates. As you likely know, a bounce rate is used to determine the percentage of single-page visits to your site, wherein the customer leaves after simply looking at that one page. This typically applies to the Home Page of a website. This isn’t automatically a bad thing, as the first page of your website may have just been exactly what the user was looking for, but this could be attributed to the user visiting the mobile version of your website and leaving without going to any more pages because the design and layout was too frustrating to use.

Using Analytics

Using-Analytics

Another way to see that users may have a problem with interacting with the mobile version is by checking the mobile pages of your website to see if there are a large number of clicks to full desktop mode, which means that users may believe the functionality of the mobile version to be too limited. Google offers a means to ascertain these numbers by utilizing Google Analytics Behavior Flow Report or Events.

If, upon confirming whether or not these two numbers are high for your mobile site, then it’s wise to follow Google’s checklist on making improvements, which includes speeding up any slow pages on your website, improving any noticeably detrimental usability issues and constantly improving the content within your website to satisfy consumer needs.

One of the more essential aspects of improving consumer experience is by removing any features that may require plugins or videos that aren’t available on many devices. For instance, Adobe Flash isn’t available for anyone with an iPhone or Android versions that are 4.1 or higher. Removing this and similar plugins will help to greatly lessen consumer frustrations. Speed is a valued commodity of most mobile users, which is greatly hampered by plugins that won’t work for their devices. You should also give your tablet users the desktop version of your website, although an actual tablet version would work even better if available. Lastly, it’s important to make sure that the desktop version of your site is fully operational with mobile phones, as well as remaining in desktop mode during the entire duration of the visit to your website. For instance, users shouldn’t have to click desktop mode every time they visit a new page. All of these suggestions should help customers find your site to be much more accessible.

Task Completion Improvements

Google has included in their checklist a number of tasks that work to facilitate task completion. Firstly, it’s important to optimize search engine processing and the overall searcher experience. The ways in which this is possible is by primarily unblocking a number of resources, such as Javascript and CSS that are robots.txt disallowed.

You should also work to implement search engine practices in regards to your mobile implementation. The exact implementation you decide to use all depends on what your own implementation is like. For those with a Responsive Design, you’ll want to include a CSS @media query. Anyone with a Separate Mobile Site should add rel=alternate media and rel=canonical. It’s also important to include Vary: User Agent HTTP Header. This allows Google the ability to include the Skip Redirect process. Finally, those with Dynamic Serving should include the Vary: User Agent HTTP Header.

Task-Completion-Improvements

The last area that can improve task completion is focused on optimizing popular mobile persona workflows for your website. This can be achieved in 3 different ways. First, you should gather information on the user intent of those that visit your site, which can be accomplished by determining common user workflow with Google Analytics Visitors Flow, using Site Search Report to find the most popular search terms on your site, using Webmaster Tools to check mobile search queries and by asking your customers to complete surveys that will serve as an evaluation of their user experience.

Secondly, you should create micro-conversions on the basis of common mobile tasks. Lastly, it’s important to improve user workflow. The way this happens is by following Usability Best Practices, such as legible font sizes for customers, and by reducing the number of interactions the user needs to complete to fulfill a task, such as clicks and scrolls.

Changing Ordinary Customers Into Fans

The final aspect of the Google Checklist, also one of the most important, is to turn the consumers of your site into actual fans. As Google displays, there are a couple of ways to accomplish this. You should try to track cross-device workflow by studying the logged in behavior of a user across a number of devices and by detailing the “add-to-cart” and “add-to-wish-list” visits. This will allow you to note what your customers are most interested in. Finally, you should constantly try to provide your customers with more and more added value. Google provides four cases of this, which are listed as building an in-store shopper for mobile devices, utilizing smartphone GPS, camera and accelerometer accessories, increasing social and sharing behavior between customers and by including interesting tactile functionality like swiping, shaking and tapping.

Written by Dan Virgillito

Dan Virgillito

Dan Virgillito is a freelance content strategist with a passion for good storytelling and all things digital. He lived in the Netherlands, Poland, England and Sicily. Say hi on Twitter.

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