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What Is A Mobile Friendly Website?


A mobile-friendly website is one that adapts to the screen size of a hand-held computing device such as a smart phone. It converts the content of a desktop site to mobile providing an optimal user experience. A smartphone is now the primary starting point for potential customers. Mobile consumer’s needs range from product research to immediate such as finding a product locally.

Mobile-friendly provides a superior customer experience. It addresses three primary areas:

  1. Speed. Visitors expect a mobile page to load fast. But fast is subjective. For established brands, visitors expect three (3) seconds or less. Others will wait longer. Check your analytics for exits and bounce rates.
  2. User Experience. Pinching and zooming in only makes the content difficult to read. Mobile users are in a hurry.
  3. Information Architecture. Is the content relevant and useful? They want to find answers to questions easily. Navigation should be intuitive to facilitate tasks.

On April 21st, Google’s mobile friendly ranking update went into effect. Dubbed #mobilegeddon, a separate algorithm now ranks pages in mobile search separate from that of desktop. This began in 2011 when mobile performance factored into the Adwords Quality Score. Non-mobile-friendly sites are now penalized and rank lower. Should a site be non-compliant, your competitors have an unfair advantage.

So what’s the meaning of non-mobile friendly? Basically, your website still looks a like a desktop version on a mobile device. It’s impossible to read without pinching and zooming in. Whereas mobile users are looking for answers quickly, it’s likely they will exit the page because it’s too difficult to use.


How Can I Test My Site for Mobile Friendliness?

You can test your site with Google to determine if it’s mobile friendly. It will evaluate for the following:

  • Mobile friendliness
  • Mobile Speed
  • Desktop Speed


Although the mobile user experience is of high importance, page speed is another.  Back in 2010, Google stated page speed would be a ranking signal.

What’s a Mobile Optimized Website?

So my mobile-friendly site is mobile optimized, right? Maybe. There’s a growing misconception. These are two very different things. A mobile optimized website formats to any handheld device such as a smart phone or tablet. Even if your website is mobile-friendly, it may be not be formatting correctly on other devices! You may be losing valuable leads.

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is the ability to adapt a website to the screen dimensions of any device. it provides an optimal experience by allowing users to complete tasks efficiently irrespective of device type. @media CSS defines the style rules to format any device including desktop. This is what determines how content should be rendered for each screen’s dimensions.

According to Clutch, who did a study in 2015, only 56% percent of small business websites have responsive design.

How Mobile Has Changed Customer Behavior

Everyone remembers when the first iPhone was launched back in 2007. It was a seminal event. Mobile browsing was exciting but not fast. Since then, processor and connectivity speeds continue to increase. We’re now in a mobile first world. Although many consumers shop on one device and finish on another; it’s changing.

Top e-commerce retailers now count mobile for 50% of their sales according to Criteo. Call it instant gratification but smartphone users have high expectations. Brands in particular are held to lofty standards. If the experience is not sufficient on mobile, potential customers are moving on. As technology evolves, don’t be surprised if shopping capabilities become possible on a smart watch.


Just because your site is old doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed quickly. There are companies that can convert websites into mobile friendly sites without re-coding. Some of them are quite capable to solve your short term problem. A few options are Dudamobile or Womp Mobile. Once that’s addressed, start planning for a new web design with CMS capability if that’s lacking.

The mobile experience is a first interaction with your brand. This shapes a potential customer’s perception during and after. A mobile friendly website increases traffic, conversions. and sales. It’s not only better for the user; it improves the bottom line.

About The Author

Nicholas McDonough

Nicholas McDonough
Nicholas is Senior Marketing Strategist at Verbatim. He specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) helping local businesses and e-commerce companies increase marketshare and revenue. Connect with him on Social via his author page.