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Comment: Advisers must design their websites for smartphones

Comment: Advisers must design their websites for smartphones

It has been 50 years since the moon landing: a seminal moment in the history of mankind.

Fast-forward five decades and we each have a device in our pocket with more computing power than what was used to put Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into space.

But while a phone might be able to put a person on the moon, it cannot work miracles. That includes displaying your website correctly if it is not optimised for mobile in the first place.

Browser battle

Our research shows the average advice firm’s website gets 36.4% of its traffic through mobile and tablet devices. The proportion of traffic to these devices, relative to laptops and desktop computers, is rising too.

You want people to hang around for as long as possible on multiple pages. If your website is hard to read on a mobile, it will kill engagement stone dead. The basics are still important, such as great images and compelling copy. But if you cannot read them because the text is tiny, or displays poorly, then you have simply lost the war after the first battle.

Taking a test-drive

To see if your site is mobile compatible, look at it on as many devices as possible. I never cease to be amazed by the advisers and planners who fail to look at their site across a range of devices. Especially considering the fact there is a handy tool in Google Chrome that does it for you. This can be accessed by right-clicking anywhere on your page and clicking ‘inspect’. A whole range of mobile devices are available to choose from, giving you a simulated view of how your website will appear when accessed on them.

Another obvious, if a little rudimental, method for assessing the mobile compatibility of your website is to notice the behaviour of anybody viewing it. For example, if you find yourself squinting, expanding text or turning your device on its side, you can be pretty sure it is not compatible with mobiles and tablets.

Become an SEO pro

There is a second reason for ensuring your site is compatible with mobile devices: search engines. By that I mean, of course, Google.

The algorithm that defines where your website appears in searches is a closely guarded secret. What is not, however, is the fact sites that are mobile- and tablet-optimised will rank higher than those that are not.

Phone-friendly

Google wants to keep its users happy. So giving priority to mobile-friendly sites will ensure it is serving users content that can be viewed quickly and effectively.

From April 2015 onwards, Google started to expand its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This means any site built after this should have been designed with mobile in mind from the start.

So start by checking how your website appears on mobile. You will immediately sense if there is work to be done, which will be confirmed by using the powerful (and free) tools provided by Google.

If everything looks good, you can rest easy, knowing you are providing a great mobile experience. If your site needs work, then put it at the top of your 2018 to-do list.

Phil Bray is director of The Yardstick Agency

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