by C.K. MacLeod
Writers and editors are encouraged to build platforms—websites and blogs—to connect with readers and showcase books and services. After running analytics on my site, I learned that a surprising number of readers were accessing this site on a smartphone. Your readers may be interacting with your site on a smartphone, too. Is your website mobile friendly? Try Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to find out.
A Smartphone-Savvy Site
How does your site behave on a smartphone?
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Does it load quickly?
- Is the font large enough so readers can read your content, without having to pinch and spread?
A surprising number of sites don’t meet this “mobile-first” design criteria (mine didn’t). Why? Many sites have been designed for desktops and laptops and haven’t yet adapted for small-screen viewing.
Below are a few tips to help you make your site small-screen savvy. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a web developer to execute these ideas.
Choose A Responsive Theme
Many writers use WordPress to build websites. WordPress comes with a multitude of beautifully designed themes that you can choose from. But here’s what I didn’t know: not all themes perform well. Some themes, while pretty, can make your site run slow, and others are not necessarily designed with small screens in mind. When searching for a theme for your site, choose a responsive theme that will work on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Type “responsive” into the WordPress search box while searching for themes to see your options.
Note: Weebly offers free responsive design themes, too.
Choose Function over Form
What’s more important than a pretty, multi-column visual feast is a website that’s easy to navigate. I’ll admit it, the current design for this site is pretty no-frills when viewed on a desktop computer. But it works surprisingly well on a smartphone. Consider sacrificing some “splash” if it means a better reading experience for readers.
Consider the Default Theme
Each year, WordPress developers design a new default theme for WordPress users. The latest theme is aptly named 2015. In the past, I’ve tended to ignore the default themes, not realizing that the current year’s theme is—according to Morten Rand-Henrickson, the instructor of WordPress Essentials at Lynda.com—the most stable free theme available from WordPress developers. It incorporates the most up-to-date features in web design, including smart design features for small screens.
Cellular networks are slower than wifi networks. After installing the WordPress 2015 theme, my site speed improved on a smartphone. If you want to keep your smartphone readers engaged, finding ways to improve your site’s speed will matter. While there are lots of ways to do that (I’m only beginning to discover other improvements I can make), selecting a light and stable theme is a great place to begin.
Mobile-first design is the way things are heading. Have you discovered any tips to make your site work for an audience of smartphone users?
Image by Vasile Hurghis