I’ve been thinking a lot lately about websites and their content and have begun to think about a checklist of things one really needs to consider as a site owner or as someone planning to launch a new site. Two of the most important are how quickly the site loads and how it looks to the visitor, no matter where they access it from and what device they use.
The Worldwide Web recently celebrated its 25th birthday and in the early days it was easy to build good-looking web pages because the code was pretty simple and site visitors were viewing them on large uniform-sized desktop computer screens. This comfortable situation lasted for a while but things rather fell apart when people started to access the web using mobile devices which sported an increasingly varied selection of screen sizes.
I had become aware of the need for websites to look decent no matter what screen they are viewed on and while researching the topic I came across an article by James C on the Crazy Domains blog which I commend to your attention. There’s no sense in my repeating the information when James has already put it so well but I will just underline some points from it which every website owner must consider.
The first thing is that your website must be designed to be mobile-friendly using a technique called responsive design which displays the site to its best effect no matter what size screen it’s viewed on. Sites which Google deems to be mobile-unfriendly are already being ranked lower in the search results it returns.
The second issue is that Google is now pushing the idea of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which are essentially stripped-down versions of full web pages designed to load instantly on mobile screens. Google will apparently also penalise sites that do not implement AMP and it means that web creators are either going to have to build two versions of their websites or implement a solution (and they are starting to appear) which will generate AMP pages automatically.
- Here’s a normal blog page on my Durban history site.
- And here’s its automatically generated AMP page
I haven’t seen much positive comment on the interwebs about the AMP idea and I’m with James in believing it shouldn’t be necessary if your site is properly responsive. One thing is sure, though, if you want Google to play nice with you, you will have to plan your websites with it in mind.
In the next couple of months I’ll be reviewing some website development tools with an eye to their ease of use and how responsive the websites produced with them are.