How to Make a Site Mobile Friendly

A picture of a smart phone

If you haven't noticed already, Google is doing something rather drastic. They are gating web sites that have elements or major sections of pages that are dependent on outdated web technologies.

Google includes Adobe Flash as an example of outdated web technology. Adobe Flash is not supported on iOS devices or on Android versions 4.1 and higher, and mobile users who are trying to access a page whose contents are mostly Flash are likely to see this:

A picture of Google message

Even though a user is given the option to "try anyway," it's more likely that user will ignore that option and instead return to search results to find and visit a competitor's website.

This may sound heavy-handed, but Google is just using its dominance in the search market to push the industry into the future. Web development is consistently hindered by both website designers and developers using out-of-date technology. And in fact, the technologies used on a given site may be outdated within a year (sometimes even less than that!).

However, Google makes it clear that their new flagging system is fairly lenient, and explains: "making websites that work on all modern devices is not that hard. Websites can use HTML5, since it is universally supported, sometimes exclusively, by all devices." Google also says the gating doesn't affect your site's ranking, just how Google presents your site in search results.

Mobile Browsing and Faulty Mobile Redirects

As the web gets older and more convoluted, I'll see some of the weirdest behavior from websites across the Internet. Errors can happen when various hands touch a given web project, and one of the worst errors are faulty redirects.

Mobile browsers are the most affected victims when it comes to faulty redirects because many modern websites will detect a user is using a mobile browser and redirect them to the mobile version of the site. What the site will not do, however, is redirect them to the mobile version of the exact page they were looking for. So that juicy, informative mobile search result they found is suddenly lost to the generic, catchall, mobile homepage.

Faulty mobile directs cause the user to lose the page they are attempting to access. The nerd/tech-related comic xkcd offers a humorous explanation of faulty directs:

xkcd cartoon

What's not so humorous is that in this scenario, the user will most likely be frustrated with the website's behavior, go back to the search results, and potentially access a competitor's website.

Much like the aforementioned solution to outdated website technology usage, Google is flagging sites that have this behavior in your mobile search results:

Google redirect message

Fully-Responsive Website Solutions

Fortunately, thanks to modern web technologies, faulty directs can be avoided altogether. A few years ago, a design agency set your business up with both a website and a separate mobile version of that website, typically on an 'm.' subdomain. This setup is the most common culprit for the faulty-mobile redirect issue. Today, companies like Signet Interactive will instead build you a fully-responsive site that completely circumvents the possibility of faulty directs and server requests.

If you are considering a responsive strategy for your online presence, Signet Interactive can help. Contact us to learn how we develop and build user-friendly websites that look great and serve your company's goals and bottom line.

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