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How to fix the mobile usability issues from Google

Creating a mobile friendly site

For a while now Google has already been marking websites as "mobile-friendly" in there search engine results and from the 21st April will start using the mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Google Webmaster tools have been sending out warning emails, declaring that certain websites are not "mobile-friendly" and bringing the mobility usability issues to the owners attention, but what exactly should be done to combat this?

The most common issues are:

Web page is too large for a small screen

We viewed on smaller devices such as a tablet or mobile phone. This means a user has to pinch and zoom to view your web page. The basic solution to this is to make your site responsive, allowing your web page to flex and stretch to fit whatever size screen it is being viewed on. Most sites can be retro fitted with a responsive design, although some areas may require more extensive changes, such as data tables - getting these to appear on a small screen can be a challenge, although there are many different solutions that can be applied.

Font sizes are too small when viewed on a mobile screen

Many times designers will optimise their font sizes for desktops, so when viewed on a mobile or other small device the fonts are too small to read with out using the phones pinch to zoom feature. It is possible to provide a different font size for smaller screens although care should be taken to test on lots of different devices as higher resolution screens can appear smaller than low resolution screens.

Images are too wide for smaller screens

Large images optimised for large desktop screens can just be too wide for mobile screens. This is an easy fix to set the max-width setting of images, within CSS to 100% so the image is always resized if necessary

Links and clickable items too close together

When using mobile devices the main input device will almost always be fingers, so having link or other clickable items too close together will make it difficult for users to press these links. Leave enough padding around links and things like menu items. Also it is essential they are of a reasonably size, there is nothing worse thatn having to have several attempts to click a link.

All these issues are solvable and any repuable developer will be able to help out re-designing  a site, and with Google now reporting that there are more mobile searches done per day than desktop searches now is the time to make you site mobile firendly.

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