Google Sending Mobile Usability Warnings

Stationery Direct

Staff member
Anyone had one of these yet? I can see sites that don't meet the criteria dropping from the search rankings to users on mobile devices.

Any thoughts on this?

On the one hand for users of mobile devices a site that is easy to view is beneficial (even though most well designed sites can still be viewed without real problems), on the other hand this is once again going to be an additional cost for small business owners. I know you have to move with the times but it seems the times are moving too quickly for my liking.

Out of interest how easy is it to implement this fix to a website? Any ideas?
Normally google's changes get on my tits as it's always just as I learn how something works, they decide it's bad! However, in this case the epic rise of mobile usage should have been a clear signal to companies and developers alike that this would eventually happen.

Perhaps it's a good point for companies to review their web presence? As, if your site was built so long ago that mobile browser's weren't a consideration, it's long over due for redevelopment to make use of modern technologies. Alternatively if it wasn't that long ago, you have every right to get very angry with your developer.

I guess the ease of implementing a mobile friendly solution is all down to how much of the site needs to be changed. And as always, there's more than one way to skin a google shaped cat. A few options I'd see available to companies would be:

1. Re-develop the site completely using a fluid or responsive layout.
2. Implement css @media rules to create break points in the existing site that will restyle elements depending on screen size.
3. Use jQuery to load a separate mobile friendly css file depending on screen size.
4. Develop a mobile site as a sub-domain and redirect mobile users.

Any solution will come with it's own pitfalls (ie; cost, effectiveness etc..) and there are bound to be other solutions.
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Mobile sites are more beneficial to B2C then B2B. Nowadays I do believe they are a necessity, as mobile searches will/have overtaken desktop searches, but I don't yet believe all B2B need a mobile-friendly site, but should definitely be looking into responsive designs.

Converting a site to be responsive can be done relatively quickly through a grid framework such as SimpleGrid. Link the CSS file, add the relevant class tags to your content and you should have a site that adapts for different screens. However, this isn't true optimisation for mobile, and may not please Google enough to avoid penalisation.

Whilst I'm all for web standards, I worry that Google enforcing things like this will up the elitism of the industry to a point where work and the sheer enjoyment of it is taken away from the average Joe. The growth of the web design industry has rocketed in the last 10–12 years since I became interested in it as a lad, to the point where it's no longer geeks happily coding away table layouts in their bedrooms, and is now a full-on professional industry.

Evolution is inevitable but in a way it almost feels as though something is about to be taken away from me for good. I make a decent living as a designer/reluctant developer, often coding up simple sites but I'm the first to admit they're probably not 100% perfect in terms of standards and semantics. But then the clients don't have the budgets to hire a developer to spend a week "doing things properly", they just need a site online, that works and is responsive. If overnight my knowledge is suddenly deemed "not good enough"and sites I code are penalised, then that's surely going to have a negative effect on future business.

Coding up a site is relatively simple once you get going, but the real bulk of the work comes from testing on different browsers/devices, etc, and that's something most small business won't or simply can't afford, especially when they're paying developer rates.

I'm probably just overreacting, but I think it's important to remember just how much control Google has, and indeed how much more control they could probably take, over how the internet should look and work.
but I think it's important to remember just how much control Google has, and indeed how much more control they could probably take, over how the internet should look and work.

Yeah this is what annoys me most about Google, they are just too big and powerful now in my opinion. Do as they say or disappear forever!! It was much easier in the good old days.
One thing that we do always overlook when google changes their algorithm is that actually it's keeping web designers and developers employed and striving to achieve. If it weren't for this never ending race to the top of google, there'd be no drive to improve web technologies or our own skills and understanding.
Mobile sites, on the whole, suck. First thing I do is look for a 'desktop version' button. The type and images are getting bigger and bigger with less on screen, while at the same time my mobile screen gets larger and more hires. I much prefer to see the desktop version so I can everything rather than just one thing in a massive font. Google also suck for pushing this on us.
For new websites a responsive design is really the way to go, because of SparkCreative's point, devices and screens are getting larger - resolutions higher, and so varied that a mobile site is just a crippled experience and increasingly less relevant.

Unfortunately we did a redesign only last year - but which was in the works for over 2 years actually, so isn't responsive.

We don't get many mobile visits and despite having a fixed width design it works reasonably well on tablets, and even phones, so we concentrated effort elsewhere (we only really expect to receive orders from someone sitting at their laptop or desktop - or perhaps a tablet).

We've also received these warnings though. Thankfully it'll only affect mobile searches, but we'll have to look at some of those options.

To be honest I thought option 1 would be best, but we've recently redone our forum and that's not mobile friendly either.
So perhaps some css @media rules or even a simple mobile site to cater to phones.

I nearly always look for the desktop version button too, except when the mobile site is particularly well done or my connection is slow.

Google does have an aweful lot of power with this but I do agree with bigdave that it's a positive encourager.

@Paul Murray I'd imagine you're well aware of the popular frameworks, but wouldn't something like bootstrap solve those problems? Some initial work/learning in getting used to a framework but once you've done that you can design your sites using that and you'll know they'll be properly responsive and work well for most devices, platforms and browsers - safe in the knowledge that some really clued up developers have thought long and hard about all of that together and put together a sound framework to build upon.