Will Your Site Pass the Responsive Test?

Posted: March 9, 2017

Matt Walters Vice President of Client Services

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Mobile (R)Evolution

Take a look out your window (or, if you’re not one of the 12 MarComm professionals in the nation with a window office, then take a well-deserved walk) and watch your students as they stroll across campus. Without knowing a thing about your campus our your student body, I’ll bet you a bajillion dollars that at least half of them will be looking down at their phones.

It’s amazing – beyond just navigating their familiar campus routes, students can even dodge unforeseen moving obstacles, like frisbees and bicyclers, using only their peripheral vision. It’s like watching evolution play out before our eyes.

Joking aside, it’s an even safer bet your prospective students are using their phones to browse your website and draw conclusions about your institution when evaluating their college choices. The stats don’t lie:

 

  • Mobile traffic has officially eclipsed desktop traffic in the U.S.
  • More than 70% of prospective college students use mobile devices almost exclusively when evaluating colleges, according to the Ruffalo Noel Levitz E-Expectations Report. People are 5 times more likely to bounce on mobile than on desktop if your site is not
  • People are 5 times more likely to bounce on mobile than on desktop if your site is not mobile friendly.

 

In response to these trends, Google upped the ante with its 2015 “mobilegeddon” search algorithm updates. Put bluntly, if your site is not mobile friendly, you can spend all the time in the world making other SEO improvements and it won’t make much of a difference: You’ll never outrank competitors who offer a better mobile experience.

Chances are, you know all this. But if you’re one of the hundreds of universities, colleges and community colleges across the country without mobile friendly sites, you may feel stuck. We’d like to help.

How Does Your Site Measure Up?

Fortunately, our friends at Google created a useful tool for measuring websites’ mobile scores. It’s a free and easy way to see how your site measures up on mobile. Before you test your site, though, there are a few basics to understand.

What does mobile friendly mean?

Put simply, Google defines mobile friendliness as a commitment to making it as easy as possible for users to complete their most common and critical tasks on mobile devices. Here are a few factors that count:

 

  • Consistent, Responsive Templates – Rather than building a separate “mobile site,” Google prefers sites built according to responsive design best practices, with flexible templates that respond to the screen size. This approach recognizes that most users engage with your site on multiple devices, offering them a consistent experience.
  • Calls to Action – Have you prioritized what are the most critical calls to action for various user types, and are those CTAs prominent and easy to find on mobile devices?
  • Site Speed – Nothing kills a mobile experience like a site that takes forever to render. After all, people tend to use mobile devices when they’re on the go. Following developer best practices with regards to file sizes, browser caching, and use of CSS and JavaScript are key to improving site speeds.

 

Put Your Site to the Test

Take Google’s mobile friendliness test to see how your site measures up. (Don’t worry, we’ll wait…)

Not Making the Grade?

If you’re less than thrilled with your website’s mobile score, don’t worry. Just like a student studying for a test, if you put in the effort, your scores will undoubtedly improve. But you may need a tutor. That’s where we can help. Here are few ways you can go about improving your site’s mobile score and, most important, improve the mobile experience for your users.

Begin with DIY Site Improvements

As you’ll see, Google offers a scorecard to justify its mobile grade of your site, with brief diagnostic insights into the most prevalent site issues. If you have developers on staff, you may be able to address some issues right away with simple CSS / JavaScript adjustments or content changes.

Get a Mobile Makeover

For some of our clients – especially those who’ve been stuck with fixed-width templates for years without the budget for a site redesign – a total responsive redesign simply isn’t practical. Perhaps costs are prohibitive for you. Or, perhaps you plan to eventually redesign your site, but watching your students practically using sonar to navigate campus while looking at their phones has you convinced of the urgency of improving your site’s mobile experience now. If that sounds familiar, consider simply adapting your existing site to a responsive design — you’ll save yourself some time and money but still boost your score.

Go for a Complete Overhaul with a Responsive Redesign

Depending on the state of your site, the best option may be a top-to-bottom, comprehensive site redesign. Though it can be time- and budget-intensive, that clean-slate approach may be exactly what you need to ace the test. And, it’s a worthwhile process that will finally give you a responsive website that’s deserving of the quality your institution offers its students.

 

Test Got You Looking for a Tutor?

If you’re eager to improve your score, but want a little help getting there, let’s talk. From consultation to complete redesign, we’re here to help. In fact, we’ve recently launched a fixed-cost, affordable offering we’re calling a “mobile makeover.” In a nutshell, instead of “redesigning” your site, we work within your current design to transform your fixed width templates into responsive templates that play well at mobile and tablet breakpoints. This approach has worked very successfully for several of our current clients, even helping them to demonstrate the urgency and momentum they needed to earn leadership’s endorsement – and funding – for a future comprehensive redesign.

Interested? Drop us a note at info@visionpointmarketing.com