We all know that we cannot ignore the little thing called mobile-friendly design when it comes to WordPress. But not all of us are big enterprises with millions in the bank, right? So if you’re just a regular old WordPress user, this is how can you make your WordPress website mobile-friendly for free?
Having a mobile-friendly WordPress website is very vital to have than it is today. Mobile traffic overtook desktops traffic for the first time, which means we all are in the massive shift in how people access the web. You need to adapt, and you need to do it soon. Otherwise, the majority of your visitors might not even be able to see your website properly.
The best way to adjust to this new approach is to study what makes mobile websites effective, and learn how to customize your WordPress site so it meets those criteria. This might sound like a lot of work, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll get there soon enough.
However, before we go deep into business practices and start discussing their implementation, let’s take a minute to dig deeper into why your site needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
Therein lies the rub! It might seem a little odd, but there are plenty of basic principles you can implement by yourself to improve the mobile-friendliness of your site.
A mobile-friendly website is the one whose pages and elements have been optimized to render well on small devices. In this case, optimization means not only looking good but also means being usable.
It takes equal effort to ensure that a website works well on mobile devices since there are so many browsers and resolutions to consider. However, you must do so for the following:
Mobile traffic is an all-time high. Do you know that 51.3% of web pages are being loaded on mobile devices?
- Most users spend more time using mobile devices than desktops or laptops.
- Not optimizing for mobile traffic can cost dearly in lost conversions.
Those reasons are strong enough to convince you to make sure that your WordPress site is mobile-friendly right away. Let’s review some of the key tips that most websites can adopt with relative ease.
The following four tips are by no means the only ones you should consider when it comes to building a mobile-friendly website, they are some of the most critical, and easy to implement to boot.
- Know why it’s essential to make your WordPress site mobile-compatible
- Know about all the free tools to test your site’s mobile-friendliness
- Know about the simple ways to make your WordPress site mobile-friendly for free
- Know about two different ways to create an app version of your WordPress site
Make Your WordPress Site More Mobile Friendly
Use a Responsive WordPress Theme
The foremost step to make your WordPress site mobile-friendly is to get it to adapt to different screen sizes. This is called responsive design.
The advantages of responsive design are numerous. With a responsive theme, every type of user can access the same website so there is no need to run and update a mobile version separately. This conserves your branding and eliminates a lot of hassle.
All the latest WordPress themes in the directory come with responsive capabilities. So, if you are the one who is looking for a new theme for your site, chances are good you will find one that is already mobile-friendly. However, even so, be sure to test it thoroughly.
If you have an existing theme that is not yet responsive, then you have several choices. First of all, check to see if it’s up to date. Should you be running an outdated version, the developer may have added responsive functionality in the meantime.
If that’s not the case and you are hell-bent on keeping your current theme, you have the option to make it responsive after the fact. For that, we have a primer on the responsive design that goes over the main principles of this design approach and also an introduction to making any WordPress theme responsive.
Besides that, there are also other options. WordPress offers various responsive plugins to create mobile versions of your site, including:
Make Sure Your Plugins Follow Responsive Design, Too
Plugins are awesome additions to any WordPress website. They can bring all sorts of new functionality and features and can make your site better.
But if your plugins add stuff to the frontend, make sure it works well on mobile as well. Nothing is worse than discovering that your new widget, slider, or button doesn’t scale properly.
As with themes, check beforehand, read reviews and do a test run in a local testing environment. Or you can also use plugins that are proven to work on mobile sites. Whether you’re working with a portfolio site, a daily blog or an e-commerce site, the last piece of the responsive puzzle is to consider the media on your site. The large background image on your homepage might look awesome on a desktop machine, but if it doesn’t scale correctly, it could lose all context and lead to a difficult viewing experience. So rule number one to responsive media? Think about how things scale. If scaling isn’t the best solution for your site, you could also consider hiding certain elements when your site is loaded on a mobile device. This would help simplify the experience and get users to the most important content faster.
Images often play a vital role in large parts of website data. For this particular reason, to make WordPress websites mobile-friendly, it’s crucial to take care of images as well.
WordPress has already done a lot in that particular direction. Since version 4.4, the CMS automatically serves up the smallest possible image to users using the HTML attribute. As a consequence, if your site is still running on a lower version than that, it’s high time to upgrade! If for a case, you don’t want to do that (hint, that’s a bad idea), at least install the RICG Responsive Image plug-in.
However, image optimization will not stop with your WordPress version. There are plenty of things you can do to improve their usability on mobile devices (read, make them smaller).
The most important thing in this is to optimize your images before uploading. For example, If you do have Photoshop, you can use Save for the web to create the smallest possible image size. Everyone else can also use services like TinyPNG to shrink their image size.
Limit Aggressive Pop-ups on Mobile. Especially on the First Page
Pop-ups or interstitials that cover the entire screen are annoying enough on desktop. However, they can be even more so on mobile, especially when we are talking about phones.
Touch control makes it extra tedious to close them which puts unnecessary pressure on the visitors’ nerves. So much so that Google officially frowns upon pop-ups that make the content hard to access, especially on the front page.
However, what is a person to do trying to grow their email list? Google’s recommended way is to use banners, text links and CTAs inside the content. The Classic signup forms at the right places still work, too.
Take the Mobile-Friendly Test
If you have implemented the above measures and are still not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly, it’s time to take the test. Since Google wants you to do your best job, they have created a nifty mobile-friendliness testing tool. Here, you can simply input your site URL, hit the button and it tells you if there’s anything wrong with your site’s mobile optimization. That way, you can take remedial action.
Consider Integrating Google AMP for WordPress
Do you know what is AMP or do you want to set up Google AMP on your WordPress site? Accelerated mobile pages or AMP is a great way to make your website load faster on mobile devices. Fast loading websites offer a better user experience and can help you in improving your traffic. We will tell you why is it important to set up Google AMP in WordPress.
What is Google AMP?
Google AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is an open-source initiative that is supported by technology companies like Google and Twitter. The objective of this project is to make web content load faster for mobile users. For many mobile users on the internet, reading on the web is often very slow. Most content-rich pages take several seconds to load despite all the efforts taken by site owners to speed up their website.
It is very similar to Facebook Instant Articles. And, Instant Articles are limited only to Facebook’s platform, more specifically to their mobile app.
Accelerated Mobile Pages are platform-independent and can be used by any app, browser, or web viewer. Currently, they are used by Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and others.
Touch interfaces are one of the mainstays of mobile navigation. After all, there’s no better way to interact with websites if you don’t have access to a mouse and keyboard. That means it’s very important to make sure your site’s elements are easy to use from a touch perspective.
Otherwise, you have the risk of users not being able to interact with the main elements of your pages, such as calls to action. If you take away all those, and your conversions are sure to take a nosedive. Users can always go for the zoom function on their mobile browsers to read and interact with small elements, but that can get old very fast. If someone needs to do the pinch and zoom their way through your website, chances are they won’t be coming back.
The good news is that this is a very simple problem to fix, either by using a plugin or a suitable mobile-friendly WordPress theme (which is the better option in the long term). The main thing you have to do is pay particular attention to your menus and calls to action. If those two elements are easy to use from a touch perspective, you should be good to go.
Add Push Notifications
If you have the latest Smartphone or any similar mobile device, you must be already familiar with push notifications. These are the messages or notifications that pop up when an app needs to tell you something, and you can add them to your mobile-friendly WordPress website as well.
Mobile devices enable all users to stay on top of the latest updates to sites they love at nearly all times, and push notifications are a great way to let them know there’s new content waiting. As long as you keep your notifications to a limited number (or limit them to critical posts), they’re sure to be welcomed by your users. Furthermore, push notifications in WordPress are also optional, so your visitors don’t need to enable them unless they want to. Also, If you’re interested in setting up this feature, check out this guide from our archives on how to do it.
Chances are that the current trend of mobile website browsing isn’t going to slow down, as better and cheaper devices continue to become available. That means the ball is in your court, and you have to do everything possible to make sure your website is ready to handle mobile users and cater to their needs.
Let’s discuss all the ways you can go about making sure your WordPress website is mobile-friendly, but we suggest you start with these four key tips:
- Create a responsive menu.
- Use a mobile-friendly WordPress theme.
- Keep touch devices in mind.
- Add push notifications.