Guest Blog Post by James Davenport – Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

ResponsiveWebDesign21Is your winery website mobile friendly? In case you missed it, on April 21st, Google implemented a new algorithm for search on mobile devices that will alter mobile search engine optimization (SEO) results. Developers usually take note when Google changes their algorithms, but this one has caused more questions and queries than usual. While this hasn’t quite been “Mobilegeddon,” it has many brands and wineries scrambling to ensure that their websites are mobile friendly. Surprisingly, there are still brands online that aren’t mobile optimized, and this is strong language from Google indicating that action is needed.

For me this isn’t a surprise, so there hasn’t been a scramble for any of my clients or recent projects. If you’ve worked with me (or any other competent designer) over the last few years, you’ll be glad to know that your website was built responsively and would pass Google’s mobile friendly test. Vin65, the wine e-commerce platform that I work with the most, has optimized winery websites for years. Today, the platform has evolved to accommodate fully responsive websites and continues to support the current realities of the device landscape within wine e-commerce.

Wine Direct asks “Are You Ready for Google’s mobile friendly Update?” Their article states that the best solution is for your website to be responsive, and I agree.

If you’re planning a responsive website project, here are some things to consider.

Adjust Your Content Strategy:

A good way to consider content across many devices is to create a content hierarchy. Basically, create a simple list of elements showing which items are most important within a site. Make a list of items and goals that are most important to you, and create a list (that is data-based) that’s most important to your users. If you’re finding it hard to put together a hierarchy, start with the single most important thing your site needs to say, and then add one or two secondary items.

Remember that most content management systems (CMS) are desktop centric. It is necessary to review all content on a smart phone and tablet. As you work within a responsive site more, you’ll learn how elements will respond within a fluid design across multiple devices. Your customers are using mobile, so your web content should be optimized for it by implementing a multi device content strategy.

Be Prepared for A Fluid Design Process:

Because the results for a responsive design are much more fluid and less about fixed widths and pixels, the process is also more fluid and flexible. The process for responsive website development is different from what we’ve used in the past, and it tends to be less linear than before. Be prepared for wireframes, sketches, design comps, style tiles, user stories, brainstorming, prototyping and other various tools. There’s a reason for choosing these approaches, so ask your designer about how they work through their process (and be prepared to hear the story).

Think Beyond the Keyboard and Mouse:

Responsive development isn’t just about resizing all of the content so it fits on a small screen. It doesn’t work quite that way. You need finger friendly content and actionable items: Your site content will be pushed, touched and swiped.

Be Mindful of Page Load:

The faster the website, the better the user experience. One part is technology and execution, and the other part is creating focused content and strategy. Be cautious about using too many features on one page. Full screen imagery, videos, carousels, social integrations, parallax and other items all have their place, just not all at once. I‘ve seen a few new “responsive” winery website launches full of cool features, only to discover the page load rises up over 5, 10 15 mb. If you do this, I hope you’re not too worried about selling online, because customers won’t wait around for a slow website. If they do, that’s some serious brand loyalty.

Review Your Data:

What are your industry trends telling you? Vin65, WineDirect, ShipCompliant, and the DTC Consultant Network are some great resources for reporting industry-wide trends. Make sure you or someone on your team understands these trends. What are analytics telling you about your site? Is there content that’s of greater importance to users but it’s relatively hidden? How can you bring this to the forefront? Review the data to add some context to your content and design decisions.

But I Already Have a Separate Mobile Site!

Great! Welcome to 2010! This was the recommended solution 4-5 years ago, when there were only a handful of smartphones to design for. But it isn’t a best practice for modern development today. The data you’ve gained from this site is valuable, but chances are if you go back to your web developer today, they would have a whole host of new recommendations for an integrated mobile-friendly website. Also, wine eCommerce platforms have quietly dropped this as a solution for addressing mobile content.

For wineries that do currently have a separate mobile website, you should pass Google’s new algorithm, but it’s still not the best solution for today’s device landscape. This should not be one of your options if you are developing a new website.

Or Do Nothing?

If your website isn’t mobile optimized or responsive, don’t expect to see a dip in your mobile engagement (because you likely don’t have much mobile engagement right now). Traffic numbers may have been high, but engagement would be low. Visitors come in the door, but leave quickly if they must endure a slow loading content carousel, or are subjected to browsing content using pinch and zoom. This approach will help your competitors.

Bring It All Together:

So, now that we’re considering a responsive website, here are the things to prepare for your new web project:

  • Adjust your content strategy to include multiple devices, not just mobile devices. Create a content hierarchy list for you and your users.
  • Get ready for a fluid design process! Your website will be flexible and adaptive, and so should the process.
  • Be prepared for a finger friendly website design.
  • Be mindful of page loads, and aim to create a faster website experience.
  • Review industry trends and your own site analytics for data, to optimize your direct to consumer sales capability!

About Sandra Beals

Sandra Beals, founder of DTC Wine Workshops and the DTC Consultant Network, is a subject matter specialist and public speaker on the topics of direct to consumer wine sales and consumer engagement strategies.