Downsizing: making your website mobile-ready

May 08, 2015, 4:00am

A practice website is an absolute necessity for any thriving dermatology practice, and a well performing, mobile-ready website filters significant internet traffic through your office doors.

Melanie D. Palm M.D. M.B.A.A practice website is an absolute necessity for any thriving dermatology practice, and a well performing website filters significant internet traffic through your office doors.  In fact, web-based referral sources serve second only to word of mouth referrals in my own practice. 

A dynamic, easy-to-navigate, and informative website used to be the key component of a successful formula to online presence.  However, with the rise of smart phones and handheld mobile devices, a mobile-ready website is as important as the content on the original website platform used for desktop applications.  “Mobile usage is increasing,” states Ginger Hill, a website designer and developer.  “Websites that are faster loading, easy to view and navigate from a mobile or tablet device, and easy for search engines to index will make a significant difference in a website’s performance.  A well-built responsive website will provide you with all of these things.”

Effective client connection

According to Nicole Logan, an expert in brand expertise and building, you cannot ignore the use of mobile devices for effective client connections.  “Mobile is on the forefront for marketing and client engagement.  Over 50% of all mobile users use their phone to research prior to purchase or engagement.  This is the first point of connection so it is important to make it a great one.”  Hill adds, “With 69% of tablet users making purchases online, a well-built site will guide them to make a purchase or make contact with you.”

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Therefore it is no longer an option to ignore the need for a mobile-responsive website design.   Not only are consumers using their cell phones or mobile devices to surf the web, contact businesses, and buy products, but Google is changing its analytics on web content to include website responsiveness.  In January, Google sent notifications to webmasters regarding erroneous coding of websites.  Given this posturing by Google, it is very likely if not imminent that site responsiveness will likely factor into ranking algorithms for online content.

It is routine behavior for prospective patients to first engage with you on their phones or mobile devices.  “If you take a look at your current website and it is not mobile responsive, you are missing your biggest window of opportunity [for online presence],” states Logan.   If a prospective patient has a slow or frustrating experience interacting with your website on their mobile device, it is likely to turn them away from your practice toward your competition.

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So how do you determine the most important factors to a well-performing responsive web design and how do you test that it actually works?  Read on.

NEXT: Google and Googlebots

 

Google and Googlebots

According to the Google Webmaster blog on mobile friendly pages, several factors weigh heavily in how the almighty Googlebots will judge and rank your website.  The reasoning for these guidelines is to allow consumers (and our patients) to more easily access information.  First, a website should use software that is adaptable to mobile devices.  Applications like Adobe Flash will rank more poorly as they are more difficult to display on mobile devices.  Secondly, the content of the website should be easy to decipher without the need for zoom.  Furthermore, content contained on the screen should be sized to the mobile device, so the user does not have to scroll horizontally to see the entirety of the webpage text.  Finally, the responsive website should be easy to navigate, meaning that links can be easy tapped, dragged, or accessed.

Beyond the Googlebot mechanics in assessing a mobile-friendly site, the ultimate goal of a responsive website is to make it easier for the end user.  Less frustration for the consumer means a happy one.  Therefore, the loading time of your site is critical according to a Forbes.com article by Phil Laboon.  Laboon states “Smartphone and mobile web users are often looking for a faster, more efficient solution.”  Not sure how your website stacks up on the loading stopwatch?  Luckily, your page speed can be assessed with the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.  Entering your website URL into this assessment tool analyzes the current status of your website and provides suggestions for improvement.

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NEXT: Measure your success

 

Measure your success

How else can you measure the success of your responsive website?  Several other online tools can evaluate the effectiveness and possible errors of your current site.  Google offers a mobile-friendly test to evaluate the design and usability of your website.  Under Google’s Webmaster Tools another useful link can be found: the “mobile usability report” can provide key data, indicating chinks in your website armor that may be affecting web traffic or impacting your web ranking.  

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