Testing For Mobile-Friendly Website DesignIn the last couple of months, Google has changed the way it ranks search results for mobile devices. The changes impact only those searches done from mobile devices, but about two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone today, so transforming your business website to a mobile-friendly one makes good business sense.

Mobile Friendly – Where Do You Start?

Having a mobile-friendly website, or a responsive design, is an easy prescription to write, but where do you start? Not surprisingly, Google has a tool that will evaluate your website for its relative mobile-friendliness. The tool will evaluate any website and let you know how mobile-friendly (or mobile-unfriendly) it is.

The tool shows the results visually – that is, it provides a snapshot of how the front page of your site looks to GoogleBot. It also provides more in-depth analysis of the other pages on your website.

You might be tempted to ask just how important providing a mobile-friendly design is. It’s important and it’s becoming more important. Here’s why.

Even though the number of mobile devices entering the market in the US is expected to level off in 2015, about 10% of Americans use their smartphone exclusively to access the Internet. These folks don’t have computers or Internet service providers at home, or otherwise readily available to them, so their only tool to reach your website is their smartphone. Making your website mobile-friendly is critical – for them.

“Ten percent is not much,” you say. True, that means the other 90% of Americans have Internet access other than through their smartphones, but here’s another fact: 15% of Americans say they have “limited” ability to access the Internet through a device other than their smartphone. That represents nearly 1 in 6 people.

Are people ditching their traditional Internet service providers in favor of mobile Internet access? Well, maybe. If you look at the number of people who have dropped traditional telecommunications providers in favor of mobile services, you can begin to see a trend forming. In 2014, more than 53% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 relied exclusively on cellular phone service. Among all age groups, more than 40% of American homes have only cell phones. That’s not people… that’s households. There may be multiple people within a household, and they all carry their own cell phones.

Typically, cell carriers bundle voice, text and data together in one package, eliminating the need for “wired” Internet service at home – in much the same way they’ve eliminated the need for “wired” phone service at home. As people look for ways to reduce the cost of connecting to the Internet, the idea of paying one bill for voice and data becomes attractive enough to convince them to ditch traditional Internet access altogether.

Will this trend expand in the marketplace? It’s too soon to tell, but with 4 of 10 American homes displaying a willingness to eliminate traditional phone carriers, and more than half of all young adults opting to roll with cellular phones exclusively, this alone provides reason enough to make certain your website is mobile-friendly.

Photo Credit: cobrasoft, via FreeImages.com