Our checklist for improving mobile websites

December 10, 2013

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Author PhotoBy Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead

To help you capitalize on the huge opportunity to improve your mobile websites, we published a checklist for prioritizing development efforts. Several topics in the checklist reference relevant studies or business cases. Others contain videos and slides explaining how to use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to understand mobile visitors' experiences and intent. Copied below is an abridged version of the full checklist. And speaking of improvements… we'd love your feedback on how to enhance our checklist as well!

Checklist for mobile website improvements

Step 1: Stop frustrating your customers
  • Remove cumbersome extra windows from all mobile user-agents | Google recommendation, Article
    • JavaScript pop-ups that can be difficult to close
    • Overlays, especially to download apps (instead consider a banner such as iOS 6+ Smart App Banners or equivalent, side navigation, email marketing, etc.)
    • Survey requests prior to task completion
  • Provide device-appropriate functionality
    • Remove features that requires plugins or videos not available on a user’s device (e.g., Adobe Flash isn’t playable on an iPhone or on Android versions 4.1 and higher) | Business case
    • Serve tablet users the desktop version (or if available, the tablet version) | Study
    • Check that full desktop experience is accessible on mobile phones, and if selected, remains in full desktop version for duration of the session (i.e., user isn’t required to select “desktop version” after every page load) | Study
  • Correct high traffic, poor user-experience mobile pages

How to improve high-traffic, poor user-experience mobile pages with data from Google Analytics bounce rate and events (slides)

For all topics in the category “Stop frustrating your customers”, please see the full Checklist for mobile website improvement.

Step 2: Facilitate task completion
  • Optimize search engine processing and the searcher experience | Business case
    • Unblock resources (CSS, JavaScript) that are robots.txt disallowed
    • For RWD: Be sure to include CSS @media query
    • For separate m. site: add rel=alternate media and rel=canonical, as well as Vary: User-Agent HTTP Header which helps Google implement Skip Redirect
    • For Dynamic serving: Vary: User-Agent HTTP header
  • Optimize popular mobile persona workflows for your site

How to use Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to optimize the top mobile tasks on your website (slides)

For all topics in the category “Facilitate task completion”, please see the full Checklist for mobile website improvement.

Step 3: Turn customers into fans!
  • Consider search integration points with mobile apps | Background, Information
  • Investigate and/or attempt to track cross-device workflow | Business case
    • Logged in behavior on different devices
    • “Add to cart” or “add to wish list” re-visits
  • Brainstorm new ways to provide value
    • Build for mobile behavior, such as the in-store shopper | Business case
    • Leverage smartphone GPS, camera, accelerometer
    • Improve sharing or social behavior | Business case
    • Consider intuitive/fun tactile functionality with swiping, shaking, tapping

Maile Ohye is a Developer Advocate on Google's Webmaster Central Team. She very much enjoys chatting with friends and helping companies build a strategic online presence.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor