A Basic Primer On Mobile-Friendliness

As you’ve no doubt already heard, Google is making a big change on April 21st. Mobile friendliness will become a ranking factor in their search results and websites that aren’t up to par will likely face real consequences to their visibility.

DesktopVsMobile_onPhoneIf you’re unsure about the status of your law firm website, check out our free Mobile Friendly Test. And if the entire concept of mobile friendliness is foreign to you, have a look at the following common questions and fine points.

So, what does “mobile-friendly” really mean?
In a nutshell, it means that a website can be easily used on a mobile phone screen. This means that site visitors do not need to pinch and zoom around your page just to read the content or navigate the links.

Isn’t an “m.mysitename.com” version mobile-friendly already?
Mobile versions of websites are perfectly acceptable methods for reaching mobile users, but they do add complexity to the web hosting process. All things being equal, Google seems to prefer a responsive website to a mobile version.

What is a responsive website?
Currently the preferred method for web development, a responsive designed website will automatically adjust the size and layout of text, images, and navigation to reflect the size of the screen it is displayed on. 

What criteria does Google use to define “mobile-friendly”?
Google primarily considers text size, link proximity, content width and back-end mobile viewport presence when assessing websites.

Can you explain those criteria in plain English?

  • Text Size: Fonts on the web don’t behave exactly like they do in a word processor. They will shrink or grow to fit the screen. This can easily cause small text to become illegible if a site is not designed with multiple screen sizes in mind.
  • Link Proximity: Quite simply, fingers and touch screens require a larger target area to be usable. Links that are too close together are tough to click on a mobile phone.
  • Content Width: Websites not built for mobile devices force users to scroll and zoom in order to use the site. Mobile responsive sites adjust your page to fit the width of the mobile device, rather than remaining a fixed width as on a desktop monitor.
  • Software Detection: Software not supported by mobile devices should not be present when viewing the site. This is typically interactive elements like Flash or Silverlight.

I used the Mobile Friendly Test, but what do these results mean?

  • Non-mobile technologies used
    Mobile browsers do not support all of the software that desktop browsers do. If a website is not built with mobile users in mind, it can affect the mobile user experience. For example, Flash does not work on mobile sites. If your site’s navigation is Flash-based, the site will not work on mobile devices.
  • Not optimized for small screens
    Your website cannot be viewed on smaller mobile screens without manually zooming in and out.
  • Text is too small to read
    Fonts on the web don’t behave exactly like they do in a word processor. They will shrink or grow to fit the screen. This can easily cause small text to become illegible if a site is not designed with multiple screens in mind.

What do I do if my site isn’t mobile-friendly?
First of all, don’t panic. FindLaw has been creating mobile friendly solutions for over 15 years. We’ll work with you to build tools so visitors can contact you easily and efficiently via email, telephone, mobile devices — all under your control. If you’re interested in creating a law firm website that meets legal consumer expectations while contributing to your caseload, reach out to us at FindLaw.

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