Optimize Your WordPress Website for Mobile

It would be virtually impossible to find a soul alive who uses the Internet that does not also access the web from their mobile device at least some of the time. Having a website that is optimized for mobile devices is essential to the success of any business that counts on web visitors.

While previously this meant simply focusing on ensuring the user interface was available and usable on mobile, now it is equally as important to focus on the mobile user experience. With so many different types and sizes of devices, it can be challenging to make sure that your WordPress site is optimized correctly for all of them.

However, it is not impossible, and by making sure that you are doing some simple things, you can ensure that the user gets the best mobile experience possible, no matter what device they visit your site from

Build Mobile First

For starters, you should assume that mobile visitors are going to be your main source of web traffic. This may sound bold, but mobile sales are on the rise and climbing quickly, while desktop and laptop sales have fallen consistently over the last two years. That trend does not look like it will change anytime soon.

Therefore, you must adapt your thinking. Build the WordPress site with the mobile user in mind from the beginning. This is a safe way to ensure that your site will be optimized for the mobile user and then you can make any adjustments to make sure that desktop users with more screen real estate will have a great experience too. Consider it a form of reverse engineering.

Responsive Design

Another tip is to be fluid in designing your site and stay away from setting fixed sizes. This is important so that any device is the perfect device for your site’s width. Fluid layouts are more the norm now anyways, assuming you choose a responsive design WordPress theme, so this shouldn’t pose too much of an issue for you. There is nothing worse than having to use a scroll bar when you are trying to view a webpage on a screen that is only 4.3 inches across.

Making sure that the site is fully functional, yet easy for mobile users is essential. Make it simple for users to search for, and find, whatever it is they may be looking for on your website. Put search boxes and pertinent information at the top of the page so that the mobile user doesn’t have to look far and wide to find these tools. Simplicity and convenience are what the user wants, so be sure to deliver them seamlessly and with little effort for them.

Consider Your Unique Demographic

You should know who your users are. The basic demographics of your visitors should be known to you or you should do the research if you haven’t already. Once you know your users, it is not hard to recognize their general browsing habits. Know what they like to do online, how they make purchases and what they tend to do when they visit sites that are related to you. Ensure that those things are right there in front of them when they log in from a mobile device. Ease of access is the number one thing people look for when browsing websites. Keep everything as simple as possible and without major surprises for the user.

Keep Your WordPress Software Up to Date

Always make sure you are using the most up to date developer’s libraries and guidelines. You need to keep your website in the here and now, not the gone and goodbye. Users like the most up to the minute technology and the website you feature on a mobile decide needs to be up to par with the high standards the user will expect when they click your link or type in your URL.

This also means that you should never hide content from any of your users if you find it hard to modify the code to work well on mobile. A lot of developers will choose to disable content that is troublesome for mobile devices rather than figure out a solution to deliver it to everyone. Make sure that the troublesome become the untroubled and get that content to everyone, no matter the device they may be using.

Avoid Fiddly Controls

Always remember to design for a finger, not a pointer. A mouse pointer is very precise when you click it, a clumsy finger – not so much. Make sure that you make the clickable items on your page a bit larger and a bit more forgiving if the user is off just a bit with their tapping.

Optimize Your Content

Compress everything you can – mobile users are not always on fast connections. There are oodles of tools that will help you compress anything you need, and in WordPress, this means there are literally thousands. Get these tools and use them as much as possible. Get rid of that extra line of code that does not even do anything, remove white space, and unneeded HTML comments. Make your site as efficient as possible without sacrificing quality.

Prepare for Increased Traffic

By doing these simple things, you can be sure that your WordPress website will be totally optimized for any mobile user. Mobile users are here to stay and they are increasing in numbers every single day. It is rare to find someone with multiple desktop computers at home, but how many have a mobile phone and a tablet? Even most of the netbooks out there are running on one of the mobile operating systems, so it is imperative to be ready for that traffic.

The success of your WordPress site is dependent upon optimization for the mobile user and their mobile devices. Besides, what is the harm in optimizing for mobile devices first? It is always easier to scale up, rather than down, so build your WordPress site for the mobile user and then optimize for the desktop user, which should be a very painless process than even the most novice of developers can handle.

Web developer Richard Sutherland has been working with WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other content management systems for over a decade. Graduating from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Richard has held a number of prominent website development roles at major companies such as Samsung, ASDA and Prudential.

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