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Mobile friendly

mobile friendly test

The wisdom of the recent changes made to their search engine algorithms by Google to take into account the 'mobile friendliness' is at least questionable.

Part of the problem lies in the lack of a definition of what is mobile friendly and part in the fact that mobiles and tablets are not really suitable for all purposes.

Definition

Google's definition of what makes a website mobile friendly includes the following characteristics -

1. It avoids software that is not common on mobile devices (like Flash),
2. Uses text that is readable without zooming,
3. Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom,
4. Places links far enough apart so that the correct on can be easily tapped.

Personally, when I view a website on my phone or tablet I prefer to see the whole picture, or page.  I then zoom into the area of interest.

I don't like to see a tiny section of page either, but what I dislike even more, is a watered down, simplified, baby version.

Resolution

Google's online tool to test a website (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) for its mobile friendliness, however, will always fail if it does not render properly within a width of 320 pixels.

For me, this is too narrow and arbitrary.  Most modern mobiles have screen resolutions far in excess of this.  Many have resolutions greater than many desktops and most laptops.

The difficulty is made worse by small devices with ridiculously high definition screens pixel-wise.  Showing a website on such a device would make it too small and impossible to read.  You have to question what the high definition of the screen is for, if the human eye cannot read it without a microscope?

Fit for purpose

Assuming the website displays correctly, what happens if the website is anything more than a brochure/visual experience - one with lots of forms, for example, with acres of text and dropdowns galore?

When you try to enter text on a small device, the virtual keyboard will often cover almost all of the screen, making it very difficult to refer to any content that may be useful for whatever you are 'typing'.  It is all too easy to click on the wrong 'key' or 'button', resulting in the form being submitted prematurely, with all the varied fun that can result.

And therein, lies the real problem.  At best this could be described as one finger typing.  One finger typing on a minature keyboard that has keys smaller than a baby's fingertip.

Perhaps websites are getting too friendly.  If you use a mobile to do something more demanding than look at pictures, perhaps the website should tell you to go away (and come back when you have come to your senses, via a proper computer).

Evolution and all that

Over the past 20-odd years or so, computer technology has grown up, mutated, evolved, again and again.  Desktop/laptop hardware (keyboards, mice and other input devices) and software have been improved and refined to increase productivity and ease of use.

In the last few years, mobiles and tablets have been given access to an arena in which they are just unsuited to anything that needs significant input from the user.

No matter how many three-fingered swipes, taps, twists or flicks you come up with on these devices, they will never be able to do what real keyboards can do so much more quickly.  They are only really as useful as a mouse with no buttons - good for pointing and not much else.

Call me old-fashioned but I will refrain from doing anything difficult or important on a mobile or tablet.  Neither will I buy a house based on viewing the property only through its keyhole.

Should you care?

The trouble is, Google is bigger than me.  The changes in their search engine can and will have an effect on your website if it doesn't respond appropriately.

So, you should care if you do not want to see your beloved website plummet down the to the twelfth page and SEO hell.

If you need help making your website mobile-friendly, we are here to help, honestly and appropriately.