We've been singing the praises of responsive design for years, but truthfully a mobile-friendly site isn't necessarily responsive. It can also be a seperate site created to serve content on mobile devices. But we still think responsive is the answer as you won't have duplicate content. With Google's mobile search results now telling searchers if the site is mobile-friendly or not, if you haven't yet invested in updating your site for a multi-screen world, now's the time. Especially as Google's post says they're also experimenting with using mobile-friendly as a ranking signal:

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

Mobile-friendly search tag
Image modified from Google Webmaster Blog

Check if your site is mobile friendly

I'd argue the best way to do this is to actually get a smartphone and go to your website on it. Viewing it on a mobile device will let you see for yourself how legible the text is, how easy it is to hit the tap targets, do you have to scroll sideways, etc. You can also simulate how your site looks across different devices using the Am I Responsive website. There's also an online tool courtesy of Google's Mobile-Friendly test

Your site's mobile friendly if:

Google's bots look for sites that:

  • Avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash (we did say your website shouldn't be using Flash)
  • Use text that is readable without zooming
  • Size content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Place links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

What to do if it's not

The short answer is your site needs some code updates. The extent of which depends on how your site has been developed. Creating a mobile friendly site is an opportunity to review your site's content, navigation and architecture, so take advantage of it. Instead of just taking your existing content and making it responsive, it's worth taking a critical look at how you can improve the visitor experience and make it easier for someone to accomplish a task.

Some things, like readable text size, is debatable as some people (like me) prefer larger text sizes regardless of screen size. Other things, like tap targets and horizontal scrolling and zoom are pretty universal. Swiping up and down is expected, swiping sideways jars the user experience because very few people can swipe sideways without also impacting the vertical position of the page so your eye jumps to continue reading. If you're one of the ones that can swipe sideways without affecting your vertical position you are probably also a Jenga master!

We can help make your site mobile-friendly. Get in touch and let us know your website URL and we can chat about how to make it mobile-friendly.