Around 80% of New Zealanders used a mobile phone to browse the web in 2015. Mobile phone Internet connections increased from 3.2 million connections in 2013 to 3.95 million in 2015, so there is every reason to make your website mobile-friendly.

NZ internet usage stats

While many websites work reasonably well on tablets, websites which use Flash or have fixed size elements can be frustratingly unusable on iPads and iPhones. Many older functions are easy to replace using Javascript or HTML5, giving a better experience to users of mobile and standard browsers. 

Responsive Web Design is a way of making the web page look different on different sized screens - if you look at this page on a smart phone or tablet - the layout is different for each screen size, making the website usable and readable at each size.

Google recently introduced a basic assessment of 'mobile friendliness' which affects the ranking of the website in mobile search. This wasn't as big a change as it was portrayed - websites which are not user friendly are already ranked less highly on mobile because people using mobiles leave quickly and don't return, and this is recorded by Google. By the same token, a site may pass the mobile friendly test and still not be very usable, in which case it's not going to rank well. Page Load Speed is very important for mobile, but is often ignored.

You can test whether your website has basic mobile friendly features here on Google.

User Experience is even more important for mobile websites, in fact according to Annie Sexton usability and page load speed are the  "two important facets that should drive your decision-making."

"1. Usability trumps aesthetic. When developing for mobile sites, because screen real estate is limited, it's important to focus on the ease of use over a pretty interface. It may not make sense to have every single navigation item visible on smaller screens. You'll need to prioritize the elements that are most vital and make them the most prominent and easy to find.

2. Make performance your numero uno goal. Despite how fast our mobile devices are these days, it's still important to build for slower connections. Let's not forget that "fast mobile devices" are limited by the networks to which they connect. 4G is restricted to modern countries in dense urban areas. Most of China is covered in 3G, and the same goes for India and many other developing nations all over the globe. Regardless of the connection, when users are on the go, laggy websites will be abandoned. Load time should be short and snappy."

Mobile friendly websites are not 'one size fits all' projects. For very complex websites, it can be useful to have a simplified template for smart phones.

Hybrid mobile apps can offer the best of both worlds, a downloadable app with native functionality on the iPhone and Android, and easily updated web pages showing within the app. A combination of an iPhone app with specially formatted webpages, the app takes advantage of functions on the iPhone, and accesses web pages to provide easily updated information in a format that works well on the phone. The web pages may be used by other mobile devices and standard browsers, or specific to mobile only.

If you just landed on this page, an introduction is in order. Phosphor is a mobile web development company based in Auckland. Find out more about Phosphor, or contact us for a meeting in person or via Skype.

Give us a call or fill in the contact form if you would like to look at how your website can be improved to work with smartphones.

Gibson, A., Miller, M., Smith, P., Bell, A., Crothers, C. (2013). The Internet in New Zealand 2013. Auckland, New Zealand: Institute of Culture, Discourse & Communication, AUT University.

NZ Government Statistics