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Absolute Design
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Is your website smartphone-friendly? | Mobile web design

Posted by: Clare Rose

Almost a third of UK web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. Have you considered how your site performs on a smaller screen?

The number of people who own a smartphone, like Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android devices, is now at almost 50% of the UK population. So it’s not surprising that a lot of web browsing is done on the device people have in their hands rather than the one on their desk.

Making a website small-screen friendly is a challenge that every business needs to consider. Smartphones do a decent job of resizing a site to fit the screen, but if you’ve ever used a non-mobile site on a phone, you’ll know it involves a lot of annoying zooming and fiddly prodding to try and hit the right link.

Our top three tips for improving your site’s mobile performance are:

1. At minimum, make sure the site renders correctly  
If your site relies on Flash, it won’t work at all on many devices, and badly-written code will cause problems too.

2. Use a responsive design
‘Responsive’ means the layout changes according to the size of the display. This is the best solution for most websites, including ours – try shrinking this window to see it in action.

3. Create a dedicated mobile version 
For some businesses, customers are looking for very different features when they access the site on their phones. For example, we found that people using the Nottingham tram (NET) site on their phones were looking for timetables, journey planners and live updates, so we built the mobile site around those. You’ll notice that big news sites like the BBC and The Guardian have dedicated mobile sites too.

The beauty of responsive design is that it also renders pages appropriately for in-between screen sizes, like iPads and other tablets. 

How do I find out how many mobile users access my site?

If you have Google Analytics installed on your site, you can find this out in just a few clicks. Within the Audience section, select Mobile and then Overview:

From this report, you can see the number of people accessing the site on desktop, mobile and tablet and also the proportion of new visits, the bounce rate, pages per visit and average visit duration.

We also covered mobile web design in our recent Web Trends seminar. You can find out more and download the slides here.