Speeding up WordPress load times for mobile devices is the single most important thing you can do for mobile optimization. Mobile internet (websites, web apps etc.) is where most people consume the content, and if your site isn’t up to par, you could be losing out on a lot of business.
In fact, Google has recently implemented a new policy that will actively deter such websites in search engine rankings, which don’t have a mobile-optimized version of their content. You can avoid that happening on your site and can optimize WordPress website for mobile users by following these seven quick tips.
#1 Use A Responsive WordPress Theme
Your website may look great on a desktop, but if you’re not using a responsive theme which is capable of adapting the content to multiple screen sizes, then you’re missing out on a large chunk of mobile users and hence the business as well. With a responsive theme, there’s no need to run a custom mobile site alongside your traditional desktop site, as the responsive theme manages to show the content in an eye-catching manner regardless of the screen size.
Most of the modern WordPress themes available in theme directory on an official WordPress website, support responsive design. You can also consider buying a paid theme for your website, there are few paid WordPress themes which I usually recommend – Elegant Themes, Themify Themes and awesome themes from the house of MyThemeShop.
If you are using a custom theme which you don’t want to abandon, consider hiring a designer who can help turn your static design template into a theme that features responsive design. Is your website truly responsive? You should check your website on this free tool called Responsive Website Design Testing Tool.
#2 Enable Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in WordPress
Page speed (of web pages) has become a factor of Google’s search algorithm for quite a time. Also, Google always advocates flawless user experience whether for computer or mobile users. And for the same reason, they introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which aims to load web pages faster on mobile devices.
Since page speed is a search ranking factor and AMP makes web pages faster for mobile devices. Hence, it is correct to say that AMP helps your website gaining SERP ranking.
You can easily setup AMP on your WordPress website using the RIGHT WordPress plugin(s). For more details on AMP, you should consider reading the following guide…
#3 Use Plugins for Mobile-Optimized Content
If setting up a responsive WordPress theme isn’t an option for you, there are a handful of plugins available on the WordPress plugin repository, which can help you create a mobile-friendly version of your WordPress site. The downside to using these plugins to create a custom mobile site is that these plugins have very vanilla designs that can’t be customized as much as a theme with responsive design.
Plugins designed to enhance your WordPress mobile version include:
Another adverse side effect of relying on a WordPress plugin for the mobile version of your website is that the plugin could stop working at any point during a future WordPress update if the plugin developer does not update the plugin to keep it compatible with new WordPress core files.
WPTouch is by far the most active and popular plugin for this purpose, and it has been updated as recently as a couple of weeks ago. However, Any Mobile Theme Switcher and WP Mobile Edition both haven’t received an update in over a year. That’s concerning when you’re trying to stay on top of the most recent design trends.
#4 Use Optimized Images & Load them Correctly
If your website takes too long to load because of you are using several large in size images on your website, this may frustrate mobile users.
In fact, Google DoubleClick study indicates more than 53% users bounce from such websites which load in more than three (3 sec) seconds. Clearly, half of your audience will never browse your website if your site loads in more than 3 seconds.
Thus this short period of about three seconds that can make or break the first impression of your website for new users. Therefore, image optimization becomes an important step you can take to make sure your site is speedy for on-the-go users.
WordPress itself takes care of this since version 4.4, as it serves up the smallest possible version of the image available on your server. For sites that are running WordPress 4.3 or below, this can be a huge incentive to upgrade and see significant speed gains without installing any new plugins. Therefore, you concerned enough to keep your site (including WordPress, plugins, themes etc.) updated, since new updates are likely of fix known bugs and vulnerabilities.
If you’re already on the latest version of WordPress and want to make sure that images are well optimized, the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin might be something should consider adding to your WordPress installation. If you prefer not to add anything new, consider using a service like TinyPNG to shrink your image sizes before you upload them to your server.
#5 Avoid Use of Full Screen Pop-Ups
Full-screen pop-ups that contain a call to action for your website can be a great way to engage users on desktop. But these pop-ups maybe annoying for mobile users. There can one major reason for this is that if these full-screen pops are not designed for mobile browsers and in many cases they are not. This can lead to a frustrating experience for your customer.
Hiding these pop-ups on mobile devices may cut down on user frustration and still gives you a chance to get those email sign-ups by offering discounts and other lucrative benefits to your customers.
#6 Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool comes really handy when you want to whether your WordPress website mobile users friendly. Or what areas required your attention to make your WordPress mobile-friendly.
The popular search engines are cracking down on sites that aren’t mobile-optimized. So getting it straight from the horse’s mouth can help you assess the areas of your website that need improvement.
Google’s mobile-friendly tool will highlight the sections of your site that took too long to load. So you can quickly identify problem areas in your website’s performance.
#7 Make Sure Your Web Host Is Reliable
All of the mobile optimizations you can do for your site ultimately mean nothing if you’ve chosen an unreliable web host. You should steer clear of shared hosting plans if you’re running a dedicated website since someone else experiencing a colossal traffic spike has the potential to knock your site offline as well.
Dedicated servers are more expensive but give you more control over your website’s speed and performance. Because you’re not sharing server hardware with anyone else on the rack, you don’t have to worry about someone’s Groupon deal going viral and imploding your website along with it. If you’re curious about the differences between shared hosting and dedicated hosting, ask your hosting provider which you’re using to see how easy it would be to switch.
Your host should also support caching content, so even if your website is down the information is still accessible. Page caching can significantly reduce load speeds for returning mobile users, which is how you keep people interested in your site in the first place. Here I am sharing a couple of resources you will find useful in order to increase your website speed.
- How to Leverage Browser Caching in WordPress
- Why you should Remove Query Strings from Static Resources
- Speed up your WordPress site with these Htaccess hacks
These seven tips and tricks to Optimize WordPress Website for Mobile Users should help you get on the road. But you shouldn’t stop with just updating your theme or installing a mobilizer plugin. Always monitor your site’s performance on both mobile and desktop, so that you know exactly the user experience your visitors are getting. And accordingly, you can keep on tweaking your site for better user experience and performance.