How to ensure mobile website compatibility
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - July 22, 2021
In 2016, for the first time, internet traffic from mobile devices exceeded traffic from desktops. Ever since this trend has only gone upwards. As of April 2021, 56.16 percent of all web traffic emerges from mobile phones.
Naturally, any individual or business expecting their website to succeed will have to ensure that it works perfectly on mobile devices. Take note that there are thousands of mobile devices used across the world, equipped with different operating systems, screen sizes & resolutions, and other specifics. Additionally, users access websites via multiple websites and website versions: browser and device fragmentation is a significant concern for every web developer.
To ensure mobile website compatibility in such a landscape is no easy task. However, there are specific steps that can be undertaken to achieve this, as this article will discuss.
7 ways to ensure Mobile Website Compatibility
1. Implement Responsive Design
Now, a website might be working perfectly across multiple browser-device combinations. However, with thousands of devices with different screen sizes and resolutions being used worldwide, there is an excellent chance that the site won’t render accurately on some screens.
To prevent this, web developers implement responsive design, and they must check the efficacy of said responsive design on different real devices. To do so, testers must once again resort to real devices.
They can use BrowserStack’s free responsive design checker to check on popular devices like iPhone X, Galaxy Note 10, iPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy S9 Plus, and more. For access to a broader range of real devices (Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and many more), testers can sign up for free and choose from thousands of real devices to check their website’s appearance.
2. Simplify Navigation
Generally, users tend to open websites on mobile devices to look for something specific rather than aimlessly browsing. They might be looking for a particular product or piece of information, an address, phone number, or something equally particular.
Consequently, mobile versions of websites must be designed to make navigation as simple as possible. Make the most commonly searched information upfront and easy to find, preferably right on the homepage. Additionally, FAQs should also be visible and incorporate all the information new users need. They don’t have to be in the first fold, but a quick scroll should make them available to mobile users.
To analyze user behavior on mobile devices, use Google Analytics. Add Mobile Traffic as a Segment under the Behavior option, which will reveal how mobile users interact with the site.
For example, if Analytics shows that mobile visitors to a grocery website frequently look for the Fruit and Vegetable section, rework the site to make it more accessible. Essentially, reduce the steps between a user reaching the website and finding what they are looking for.
3. Get rid of Disruptions
Few things are as annoying as having pop-ups and blocking the content on a small screen. Don’t expect visitors to spend time getting rid of the ad – they are much more likely to just bounce.
In order to ensure optimal mobile website compatibility, don’t allow irrelevant ads and pop-ups to disrupt the user’s journey. If the pop-up is essential, at least make it easy for the mobile user to dismiss them, or allow them to show up once the user has scrolled to the bottom of the page.
4. Be uncompromising with Speed
- Websites that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that load in five seconds have bounce rates as high as 38%. (Source)
- According to research by Google, 40% of users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Additionally, Google considers website speed as a major factor when ranking websites in its search results.
On mobile, users expect sites to load faster than on desktops. A website compatible with mobile devices must load at lightning speed across multiple device-browser combinations.
Read More: How to Increase Website Speed
Once a website has been optimized, it must be tested for loading speed. This verification must be done on real devices in real user conditions.
An easy way to do this is to use BrowserStack SpeedLab. It is a free tool, allowing users to test website speed on multiple real browsers and devices with a single click. The results offer insights into website speed across desktop and mobile, so testers can identify browser or device-specific speed bottlenecks instantly.
5. Simplify Design
The smaller the screen, the less clutter it can handle. Mobile-compatible websites thrive when equipped with a minimal design that facilitates easy navigation. Additionally, with fewer items on a page, they load faster.
For example, think of the menu. If a site has numerous pages and sections, a large menu is ideal for desktop screens. On mobile screens, an extensive menu will be unsightly and difficult to manage.
In this case, designers can either include the most important items in the menu or hide the menu behind a hamburger button on the home screen. This prevents it from taking up too much space on the screen while giving site visitors everything they need.
Keep buttons large enough to be tapped with a finger. There should be enough space between buttons so that users don’t accidentally click the wrong button by mistake.
CTAs should be equally visible and redirect users to relevant pages. Don’t use large blocks of text. Keep things as minimal as humanly possible.
6. Keep the Search option front and center
Make it easy for users to search for something specific. Users rarely have the patience to search an entire site for something when they are on mobile. A visible search bar gives them the benefit of speed and also does away with the need for large and complex menus.
7. Ensure cross-browser and cross-device compatibility
Expect a mobile website to be accessed from multiple mobile browsers and devices. The site will have to render perfectly on each device, browser, and browser version, considering their technical variances and idiosyncrasies. The only way to ensure this is to perform comprehensive cross browser testing across real browsers and devices. Testers need to check how the website renders and operates in real user conditions, for which they need to test on multiple unique browser-device-OS combinations.
Given that there are at least 63,000 possible browser-platform-device combinations in popular usage, QA teams need access to a massive on-premise device lab (constantly updated with newer devices) to perform satisfactory cross browser compatibility testing.
Not every organization has the finances or the human resources to set up and maintain such a lab, and they don’t have to. They can use BrowserStack, a cloud-based testing platform offering access to a real device cloud of 2000+ real browsers and devices. Be it manual testing or automated Selenium testing, testers can utilize BrowserStack’s infrastructure to get 100% accurate results in real-world circumstances.
Cross-browser and cross-device testing are non-negotiable aspects of the checklist. If a website does not render perfectly on all browser-device combinations, it will alienate potential users, leading to loss of traffic and potential revenue.
Given the predominance of mobile devices when it comes to website traffic, creating websites compatible with mobile devices is a no-brainer. Utilize the steps outlined above to develop a site that delights mobile users across devices, and gives the website its best chance to succeed in the digital marketplace.