As we discussed in our last post, “Why Having a Responsive Website Is Important,” if you do not have responsive website design, you are likely losing a significant amount of business. If a potential buyer cannot easily read and navigate your website on a small screen, they will very likely leave your website before making a purchase or getting the information they need.
If a reader has to scroll sideways back and forth to read the lines of text on their smartphone or tablet screen, you’ve probably lost that potential customer or client! The same is true if your text is so small, they either need a magnifying glass or keep zooming in and out just to read your content!
It is not enough to use responsive website design to create your website. It is very important that you test your mobile website to make sure it looks good and it is easily navigated on all mobile devices. In fact, you should continue to test your mobile website on mobile devices on an ongoing basis, the operating systems, and the browsers used continually change.
The First Step In Testing Mobile Websites
Unless you are designing your own website, you will need to depend on the skills your web designer to create a website that is responsive and works well on all mobile devices. This means when you shop for a web designer, you need to make sure you select a web designer who is fully knowledgeable on how to make your website mobile-friendly and is motivated to fully test their work to ensure it truly is.
When shopping for a website designer, you need to remember the following. Most web developers tend to have desk top computers with large high resolution monitors. Even their laptops tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum. This is not to say they don’t also have smart phones, tablets, and other small internet connected devices, but when they do their design work, they are often working with large monitor sizes!
So, here’s a couple of proactive steps you can take:
1. Specifically ask about how they will test how your website will appear and function on mobile devices. While there is software and internet tools they can use to test website, you want to see if they do any testing on actual devices, and if so, which devices and how many. Also, do they test different browsers and different operating systems?
2. Ask for several samples of their work. Take a look at these websites on your own mobile devices! How do they look? Is it easy to navigate them?
You Can Test Your Own Website Too
It is important that you get involved in the testing your mobile website too so you can address any issues you discover with your mobile website designer. A good place to start when testing your mobile website is using this Google tool:
Keep in mind this is a very basic test. It does not determine if your website design is OPTIMALLY designed to be viewed on mobile devices. However, it does tell you whether or not Google views your website as “mobile-friendly.” If yes, you get an automatic boost in your Google search engine rankings for mobile searches!
Remember, it is very important that you test each individual page in your website, not just your homepage. You may find that your homepage is deemed “mobile-friendly” by Google while some of your internal webpages are not. This is especially true if you have updated an old website so be sure to check old pages as well as new pages and updated pages.
If your content is dynamic, i.e. generated on the fly by pulling information from a database, be sure to test each possible type of dynamic page created on your website. Be sure to test again if you make any changes to the backend of your website.
In preparation to testing your own website, you may want to plug in the URL of dozens of other websites to get an idea of what is considered “mobile-friendly” and what is not “mobile-friendly” in the eyes of Google.
Get Your Customers or Clients To Help
When you redesign a website to be mobile friendly, you can’t possibly test every version of every device, every operating system version, and every browser version — and neither can your responsive website developer, no matter how good they are! You’ll need help! One of the best sources of help is your own customers or clients!
Send out an email to all your customers and tell them the positive news that you’ve updated your website to look and function better on mobile devices. Announce it in your newsletter if you have one. Place a message about it on your website. In all cases, ask your customers or clients to let you know if they see a problem, and if so, to let you know the type of device they’re using when they discover the problem, the software they’re running, and the browser they’re using.
Solicit the Help of Young People and Their Friends
Millennials have grown up with mobile devices and they tend to be the early adopters of new gadgets, new browsers, etc. Use your network of friends and family to develop an army of millennials to test your website on every gadget they use. Remember, this works best with a little bribe!
The testing phase is just as important as the design phase for a responsive mobile website. Test, test, test!! You can never test too much!