Keep Calm We’re Mobile-Friendly

Don’t be an April Fool. If you don’t want to lose your good ranking with Google your website needs to be mobile-friendly.

Google have made no secret of the fact that they will penalise websites which do not give mobile visitors a good user experience. On April 21st 2015 Google are rolling out changes to their search engine algorithm which will demote websites which are not mobile-friendly.

They have made this change very clear and they are here to help us make the change to a mobile-friendly web:

Keep calm we are mobile-friendly

Hey! Rankings in mobile search results will change

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile friendly sites

They have been sign posting this for a number of years now. Today 35% of web traffic is from mobile devices. So even if you ignore Google’s friendly ‘warning’, you will be offering your mobile visitors a poor experience if you don’t embrace them. But how did we get here?

Blame Steve

The mercurial rise of the smartphone and mobile browsers could be attributed to the late Steve Jobs. Work on the iPhone began in 2004 when Apple formed a team of 1000 employees to work on the highly confidential “Project Purple”. Three years later, Jobs unveiled the iPhone to the public on January 9, 2007. To say the little device was a hit, is a bit of an understatement. It’s design has ‘influenced’ the whole mobile phone industry. Designed to be inclusive from the start it was warmly welcomed by the visually impaired too.

But Steve didn’t stop there. In April 2010, Steve stuck the knife in the back of Adobe’s Flash technology:

We strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.
~ Thoughts on Flash

The honeymoon’s over

I was a big fan of Flash. Susan and I actually spent our honeymoon at the Future of Flash conference in Amsterdam in 2000. But Steve was right. We need an open web. HTML, the language of the web, invented in 1993 by Tim Berners-Lee is our language. Proprietary technologies have no real place on the web. The ‘grandfather of the web’, Jeffrey Zeldman helped pave the way for web standards, something we have embraced since 2003.

The latest version of HTML, HTML5 has all the tools we need to make the web a rich place. We believe great mobile experiences begin with good valid HTML5, Responsive Web Design and Progressive Enhancement this leads a better more inclusive web:

“Instead of asking, ‘how do I make a site responsive,’ think ‘how do I keep it responsive?” Web is responsive by default.
~ Jeremy Keith

Responsive Web Design

At iFamily we believe the best thing you can do is to embrace Responsive Web Design. This is a methodology for creating websites that are fluid in nature and flexible enough to make browsing on mobile, tablet or desktop browsers a joy. We have to thank Ethan Marcotte for the Responsive Web Design movement when he wrote this ground breaking article way back in 2010.

In January, we had 94 million users, and 61 percent of you accessed us only on a mobile device. That’s why our product and tech teams have spent months tinkering behind the digital curtain to make the site responsive, to create a seamless experience from your desktop to your tablet to your handset.

Progressive Enhancement

The recent redesign of the UK Government’s website has been applauded loudly through out the world. They also give advice on their lovely website about another principle called Progressive Enhancement.

First, just make it work
Make any new page or feature work with HTML alone – no images, no CSS, no JavaScript, nothing but HTML. Interactive elements are only those capable of being implemented with forms and server-side processing.

This gives a baseline experience, which will work in practically every browser. It allows your site to work for as many people and devices as possible, including older legacy browsers and devices.
~ Progressive Enhancement on

How to make your website mobile-friendly

Don’t let your business and mobile visitors suffer. In many cases you may just need to tweak a few settings to make sure that your site is compliant with Google. Google are being very transparent with this change, and are here to help you make your website mobile-friendly. Here are their recommendations:

  1. To test a few pages use the Mobile-Friendly Test
  2. If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.

Don’t Panic

If you would like calm advice on how to make your website mobile-friendly please feel free to contact us. Instead of pushing your head in the sand you can help make the web more inclusive and a better place, for all browsers not just mobile and tablet visitors.

Contact us

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