Mobile devices currently account for almost 60% of overall web traffic globally, with mobile e-commerce (m-commerce) quickly taking the lead ahead of desktop purchasing. So, if your team was looking for an incentive to prioritise your mobile presence and craft a mobile-friendly website, here it is.
Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites
Why do people prefer to purchase takeaway via an ordering app on their phone instead of calling up the restaurant? It's usually not because the food is better, but because these apps allow you to order directly from your phone.
For this same reason, hotels need to prioritise a mobile-friendly website design when it comes to their web presence. Potential guests want to see your property, availability, and rates quickly and easily without having to open another device to do so. Mobile-friendly and responsive designs are more intuitive, accessible, and typically more efficient; allowing for quicker decisions and higher conversions.
On top of that, Google now prioritises a mobile-friendly website over desktop for their search engine algorithm. This is something to keep in mind if you want to be one step ahead in the SEO game.
How Mobile is Different from Desktop
A mobile-first website is a site designed to be viewed on smartphones and tablets. It's adapted for smaller screens, makings sure each element is accessible and optimised on every type of mobile device. Additionally, a mobile-first website needs to load quickly because it usually loads via 4G or 5G networks instead of fast, local WiFi.
If you created your website recently, chances are that you already have a mobile-friendly website.
The fastest way to tell is to perform a Google Mobile-friendly test where you can enter your site's URL. Google will load your website into a small mock-up of a smartphone, and share the results with you. Google's tool provides a detailed analysis of your current website and recommends several actions you can take to optimise performance.
Crafting a Mobile-Friendly Website
The good news for most sites is that the bulk of the work will be done by your website theme. Nevertheless, it's still worth making the extra changes below to ensure your website visitors are getting the very best experience.
1. Use Responsive Themes
Because having a mobile-friendly website design is so important, make sure that your theme is responsive. A responsive design will automatically adjust the height, width, and resolution to fit various screen sizes without changing the content. This saves your team time and energy when it comes to optimising your website for mobile. Additionally, responsive websites have lower operational costs since there is no need to develop different websites for desktop and mobile devices.
2. Optimise Page Load Speed
Speed plays a decisive role in creating the first impression of any website, especially when it's on a mobile device. 47% of visitors abandon a website if it takes more than 2 seconds to load and a mere 1-second delay can affect your conversion rates.
To evaluate your hotel website's loading time, run a website speed test on BrowserStack SpeedLab. This tool will check speed on multiple real browser-device combinations and display a score out of 100 for both mobile and desktop. You not only get reports but also actionable insights to ensure you have a mobile-friendly website. And don't forget: Google considers high speed a positive ranking factor, so it's crucial to take all necessary steps to increase website speed.
3. Use Standardized Fonts
Using custom and creative fonts may help your hotelvs website look nice and branded. However, it can get frustrating for website visitors to wait for new fonts to load or try to read small, stylized fonts. To be safe, consider using standard fonts like Open Sans—they are very easy to read, even on smaller mobile screens.
It's recommended to use a font size of at least 14px on desktop, but always test out how it looks on your mobile version. For the main content on a mobile site, text should be around 16 pixels. Use fonts that are easy for a visitor to read in different sizes and always test them by viewing the text on a real mobile device.
4. Optimise Images
When dealing with images on responsive websites, it's important to create the smallest size possible without losing the images' overall quality. Mobile devices have much smaller bandwidth and data capacity than desktops, meaning larger images take more time to load and use more data. Even just one, non-optimised image can put off a visitor and lose a potential guest.
Thankfully, there are many online tools that will make adjusting your image files easy. If you choose to optimise your images using visual editing software, you have to do so before uploading those files to your website. Free online tools like Kraken will let you upload your images and choose the quality of the output. This reduces the file size of your images without having to compromise on the quality.
5. Simplify Content
When you're working with a responsive design on a desktop, it can be easy to forget how much smaller that content will be when it appears on people's phones. Mobile devices have less screen space, therefore fewer elements can be displayed. Try to condense text and imagery as much as possible to get your point across. If you must convey a lot of information, break it up to make for easier browsing.
A mobile-first or mobile-friendly website should help visitors get the information they need quickly and easily. Content may need to be sacrificed, but the mobile user who's browsing and booking through their phone isn't interested in galleries of high-resolution images and detailed descriptions of amenities.
6. Make Information Accessible
On a desktop, it's easy enough to include a number of tabs across the top of the screen. On a mobile device, however, the top of the screen is usually less than three inches wide. Making sure that all crucial information is easily accessible on such small screens will enhance the mobile user experience.
Make sure your contact information and booking button are prominently displayed regardless of which page of your website a visitor is on. After all, the end goal is to turn a website visitor into a future guest. And to make sure the rest of your hotel's information is organised and easy to find, it's always a good idea to utilise a burger menu. These menus are common in responsive design as they don't take up much space. Users can click to expand them, allowing them to focus on the content.
7. Remove Unnecessary Popups
Pop-ups can be quite effective on a desktop version of a site. But when it comes to mobile-first design, it's best to be careful when using them. Popups on mobile devices tend to cause more frustration that anything else for website visitors when executed poorly. For example, the X button (to close the pop-up) is not always visible and users can accidentally click on a pop-up which might direct them to a page they are not interested in. This only frustrates them and prompts them to leave your website.
You can instead, utilise other website elements for promotional purposes, such as a clean and easy-to-navigate top banner. If you have to share a special offer or ask people for their email addresses, you can do that by showing a simple banner or widget. If you want to include a popup, make sure it is easily dismissable and does not interfere with the website content unless tapped on.
8. Condense Forms
Popups aren't the only website aspect mobile users tend to get frustrated with. Forms can also cause problems due to the shortened attention span of mobile visitors. You can't eliminate forms altogether because you do need them to generate bookings. Hence, it might be a good idea to condense them to ask for only essential information.
Long, complex forms will look even more daunting when displayed on smaller screens and could overwhelm visitors. Make your forms as simple as possible for a mobile-friendly website experience. Use large buttons and few text boxes so users can feel comfortable filling them out seamlessly.
9. Spotlight Your CTAs
When it comes to Call To Action buttons, they should be blatantly obvious to spot and easy to select. And if you have more than one CTA button on your page, make a decision on which one holds higher priority and focus on that.
Consider the fact that most mobile visitors use their smartphone with only one hand. Because of that, anything they can't reach with their thumb becomes a nuisance and is not user-friendly. Ensure the button is large enough to be tapped with a thumb, and place it in a strategic location for a mobile-friendly website experience.
Ready to craft a mobile-friendly website?
Travellers are more spontaneous, eager, and curious than ever. And when it comes to travel planning, mobile devices have become the all-in-one tool for inspiration, information, and finally: for booking the experience.
Having a clean and optimised mobile-first website with a responsive design ensures that your hotel stays relevant for today's online shoppers. Moreover, it positions your brand as up-to-date and very much prepared to welcome even the most tech-savvy of guests.