Optimising Website for Mobile

By Rick O’Neill / 20 Nov 2020

Digital consultant Rick O’Neill discusses why mobile user experience is important, explaining the common mistakes that aesthetic clinics make and provides ways to fix them

I would be willing to bet my house that you own a smartphone. It’s probably either in your other hand, or placed in front of you while you read this issue of Aesthetics. It is our ‘go to’ device for initial queries, and of course it’s where we spend our social media lives (for more hours each day than any of us would like to admit). Statistics show that more than 70% of website visitors in the medical sector are using a mobile,1 and Google data shows that more than 63% of all Google searches are done on a mobile (2019).2 The laptop or desktop are no longer the primary device for searching or browsing online. Yet, despite evidence and data telling us how important and dominant mobile is, many aesthetic clinics and their web designers still focus the majority of their attention on how their website looks on a large screen, neglecting the mobile experience.

What is mobile experience?

Mobile experience refers to any and all interactions between a person on their smartphone, and your business in the digital world. This means your social media content, your website, your online store, your payment portal, your content, your clinic software, your email campaigns and more. Mobile experience is important because it is often the first impression a potential customer has of your business, and it can be off-putting if it’s slow, confusing, or frustrating. Over time this kind of poor experience can affect your brand reputation and customer retention rates. Think about your own experiences interacting with other businesses online. How patient are you if you come across a website or booking system on your mobile that either doesn’t work at all, or is very slow and ‘clunky’? Do you stick with it? Or do you move on?

Making your website mobile friendly

The ‘mobile friendliness’ of your website is one of Google’s most important ‘ranking factors’ that it uses to determine your position in its search results. Mobile-optimised websites hold much higher positions on Google than those designed only for desktops. Not only that, but it is the mobile version of your website and its content that Google indexes by default, not the desktop version.3 So, which are the most important elements of the mobile experience that Google look at in order to determine your ‘rank’?

1. The content experience – don’t hide content from your main site on the mobile version

2. Speed – your site MUST load quickly on a mobile cellular connection (3G or 4G)

3. The visual – your mobile site needs to feel more like an App. Easy to use menu, intuitive navigation and functionality etc.

According to data from the website Think With Google, 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby go on to visit a business within a day.4 For aesthetic clinics, this is absolutely vital. Therefore, it’s not only important that your website is optimised from a content, speed and interface perspective in order to rank well on Google, but it’s also critical that you ensure it is built to be easily and appropriately indexed by Google Local and Google Business listings (these are the listings that appear at the very top of Google search results, along with a map).

Where to start?

With so much riding on your mobile experience and mobile optimisation, where should you start and how exactly is this all achieved? First, it’s important to understand what state your website is in right now. There are some free tools you can use to check this within minutes, and will give you some pointers as to how to improve the technical performance (warning: it can get a bit geeky, so you may need a credible web designer/developer to assist you).

�. Test 1: Google’s Page Speed Insights Test (Found at developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)

�. Test 2: Google’s Mobile Friendly Test (Found at search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly)

These tests will let you know whether or not Google considers your site to be ‘mobile’ or not, and will also give you a score out of 100 for your website’s performance. The ultimate goal is to get the scores for both website and mobile to above 70. There are three score bands: 0-49 (red), 50-89 (orange), and 90-100 (green).5 However, it is unrealistic to aim for a score above 90. Not even multi-million pound sites like Apple.com have achieved above 80. Depending on how well your website is built, there could be up to 200 individual technical issues/optimisations to carry out to increase your score, which would usually need to be performed by an experienced web developer. However, the improvement in user experience and likely increase in Google rank as a result are often worth the effort and investment. This will take your website and certainly the mobile experience to another level in terms of user experience, speed, customer retention, and Google ranking.

Enhancing design and build

In terms of your website’s design and build, it must be ‘responsive’. This refers to the way a site changes its layout, content order, and navigational elements according to the screen it is being viewed on.

When you get beyond that basic premise, there are a number of elements for your design that you need to consider carefully to ensure a strong mobile experience:

  • Make navigation easy and intuitive – consider a consolidated menu structure and look at how apps work for the ultimate user interface design principles. Everything should be designed for touch navigation (remember, mobile users are not pointing and clicking with a mouse, they are using their fingertips). This can also include making sure that phone numbers are ‘tap to call’ (meaning when tapped, a phone call is instantly initiated on the user’s smartphone).
  • Keep a safe distance between functional elements – allow enough space for fingers and thumbs. Neither users nor smartphone screens like it when two functions are too close together. It can get very frustrating when you think you are tapping one thing, but something else happens instead!
  • Design a ‘lean’ site – make sure that your web designer or agency are optimising the code, theme, templates, functionality, imagery and videos for speed.
  • Use short forms – you can always ask for more information in a follow up. The key is to make the visit as convenient and efficient as possible for the user.
  • Highlight your calls to action (links, buttons, forms etc) – make it easy to identify them on a small screen, and for a fingertip to tap.
  • Make sure text is a generous size and legible use just one or two text sizes on the mobile version of your website’s design – it’s better to keep it simple. You should also break the text down into bite-sized chunks and use bullet lists and pull-out quotes to make it easier for the eyes to ‘rest’ on each section. Large blocks of text are unpleasant to find your way through when staring at a smartphone screen.
  • Avoid pop-ups – they are annoying on a mobile website, so don’t use them unless it’s legally necessary.
  • Be careful of how you implement images and videos – your video player should be responsive and change shape on smaller screens. Make sure that you use current technology and be served by a fast video-hosting platform (such as EOOVI.com or Wistia.)
  • Images should be optimised – in terms of their file size and format and avoid large JPG files. Instead look at SVG formats, or even CSS icons and sprites as alternatives to keep the site very ‘light’. SVG stands for scalable vector graphics and are files that end with ‘.svg’. They can be created with design tools such as the Adobe Creative Suite. Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) icons and sprites can be obtained from sites such as https://css.gg/.
  • Keep the elements and layout super clean and free from clutter – I always ask myself, ‘What would Google do?’ Just look at their homepage – it’s one of the most complex websites in the world, and yet it only has a single word and a search box. The beauty is in its simplicity. Apply this principle to your own mobile experiences wherever possible, whether it be your website, your next email newsletter, or your next Instagram story.

It doesn’t end with your website

Mobile experience isn’t just your website but also your booking software, eCommerce store, social content, email campaigns, and more. So, don’t stop once you’ve mobile optimised the website, make sure that optimised user experience designed for the small screen continues through every part of your customers’ journey with you. This might be from when they find you on Instagram, through to booking a consultation with you, to purchasing skincare products from your online store – the entire process should be an absolute joy and all from the convenience of a smartphone.

Audit each of these areas carefully. Test them for yourself on your mobile and ask a select group of trusted partners and customers to do the same. Take the feedback to your digital consultant or web agency and carry out a mobile optimisation project to sort out the whole lot.

Think mobile first

For any aesthetic business, the importance of digital maturity is evident now more than ever. With more and more consumers using their smartphones to find clinics/products and book appointments, the way that your website transfers over onto your mobile is crucial for gaining new patients and ensuring continued patient satisfaction. So, from now on remember to think ‘mobile first’ with everything you do for your aesthetic business!

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