Focusing on Mobile for WordPress Websites

mobile website design

Written by Eric Meinen, Vice President/Chief Creative Officer

Eons ago, in the age of dinosaurs and corded phones,

you could be fairly certain that whoever was viewing your website would be doing so on their desktop, at a desk, in a chair. Monitor sizes weren’t as varied, and you could count the number of browsers on one hand. Maybe even half a hand.

Robintek has been around now for 20 years (which in Internet years, is closer to 1,000) so we can say with absolute, 100% certainty, that yes, things change. Fast. According to StatCounter, in November of 2016, mobile internet usage finally surpassed desktop usage globally. This means that a little over half the people looking at your site are doing so on their phone, or on a tablet. There’s a 51% chance you’re reading this on your phone right now. From a design perspective, that’s a lot of different screen sizes and browsers to take into account.

What’s this mean for WordPress?

Never assume that because your WordPress website looks good on your screen that it will look good everywhere else. We build all new WordPress websites on our desktops, but we check them in as many devices as we can, both physically and virtually. One great tool we’ve found for doing this is Blisk. Check out this video

When it comes to WordPress, focusing and testing on mobile devices is super-duper extra important. WordPress is off the shelf software. This software makes it easy for you to add new themes, 3rd party plugins, widgets, etc. to customize your site. All these off the shelf components, created by different developers, may not play nice together or be mobile friendly at all.

At Robintek, all our WordPress websites are done custom to meet our client’s specifications and needs. Every site we build is unique, and every design is different. Because of these distinctive designs, we dedicate quite a bit of time testing in mobile in order to guarantee correct responsiveness and functionality.

Now you may not want a custom design, and would prefer to use an off the shelf theme for WordPress. Nothing wrong with that, except, the developers go with the assumption that you love their design as is, no changes, slap your logo on it and be done. In all my years working here at Robintek, I’ve never had a client do that. Your business is as unique as you are. It has specific needs. It grows, it changes, and your website should reflect that. The minute you start making these changes, adding in more tools and plugins, the more your site is at risk for developing issues in mobile.

How do you avoid mobile issues in WordPress?

One way to avoid this, and maybe the best way, starts with just choosing the right plugins or theme. Check their usage numbers, installs, ratings, complaints, update history, etc. These things combined should give you a pretty good indication of how solid and trustworthy the software is.

Once you’ve chosen a theme or a plugin, keep it up to date. Running WordPress updates is paramount, not just for the user experience on the front end, but for security on the back end as well. Out-of-date software can cause many problems for mobile, from broken responsiveness to pages not loading at all.

Another good way to catch issues in mobile is to just test it. Pull up your website on your own phone at least once a week. Test it on a coworker’s Android phone, on your neighbor’s iPhone, on your kid’s Kindle. Anything change? You just added a new plugin? Test it again.

Listen to your customers.

Over half of your customers are now viewing your website on their phone (and that number is only going up). If they’re waiting in line at the store and having problems with your site, they’ll let you know. Don’t ignore these complaints. See if you can duplicate the issue and figure out why it’s happening. Maybe it was a browser update or security enhancement in WordPress, remember what I said, things change fast. Very fast. If you can sincerely thank them for letting you know, tell them it’s fixed and it’s all because of their feedback – well that may be a customer for life.