Late in 2013 Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool added an additional BETA tool for mobile site user experience recommendations when you ran your site for speed. Now this mobile user experience tool has moved out of BETA and is both helpful as well as signals Google’s dedication to make mobile usability a larger part of mobile search rankings.
I’ve promoted using the Page Speed Insights Tool for speed testing for the last two years based on these benefits:
It’s EASY. Plug in your URL, wait 5 seconds and you have a quick report.
Reports/recommendations are given for both desktop and mobile speed.
It uses a simple numerical score as well as a color for desktop and mobile speed, ranging from 1 to 100 (best). Anyone can understand where they sit and Google considers 85 or above to be their desired speed score.
In addition to where you score, you get a tiered breakdown of recommendations to improve your site with items you SHOULD fix for a larger impact and a CONSIDER section for smaller impact items. These makes it easy for developers to get to work or a marketer to hand it off to IT or their web vendor.
I do have to add in closing on the speed test section that while it is a good idea to pay attention to the speed of your site, don’t obsess over it. For me it’s more about getting to a good spot than chasing a perfect score. Chances are you have bigger challenges with your site, like content.
The Addition Of Mobile Web User Experience Testing
The mobile web continues to evolve and the maturity of it has moved Google (as well as users) to move past if you have a mobile friendly site, but to look at just how friendly your mobile site is. You now get two tests for one, speed and mobile user experience.
The user experience recommendations focuses on the five following areas:
1. Configure the viewport: Without a meta-viewport tag, modern mobile browsers will assume your page is not mobile-friendly, and will fall back to a desktop viewport and possibly apply font-boosting, interfering with your intended page layout. Configuring the viewport to width=device-width should be your first step in mobilizing your site.
2. Size content to the viewport: Users expect mobile sites to scroll vertically, not horizontally. Once you’ve configured your viewport, make sure your page content fits the width of that viewport, keeping in mind that not all mobile devices are the same width.
3. Use legible font sizes: If users have to zoom in just to be able read your article text on their smartphone screen, then your site isn’t mobile-friendly. PageSpeed Insights checks that your site’s test is large enough for most users to read comfortably.
4. Size tap targets appropriately: Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to tap a button or link on a phone or tablet touchscreen, and accidentally hitting the wrong one because your finger pad is much bigger than a desktop mouse cursor. Make sure that your mobile site’s touchscreen tap targets are large enough to press easily.
5. Avoid plugins: Most smartphones don’t support Flash or other browser plugins, so make sure your mobile site doesn’t rely on plugins.
As with with Page Speed recommendations, you receive a tiered list of what to look at to improve your mobile website’s usability. You will also notice if you run a few sites through the tool that the findings will display based on which area your mobile site is in need of. If your usability score is lower than your speed score, those recommendations will appear above those for speed. If speed is a lower score, it will be on top of the user experience report.
The screenshot below shows that running Best Buy’s site designates the area of need is on speed. Their user experience score is 99/100 so it’s report is below the speed score of 65/100.
This screenshot below shows that running Great Harvest Bread’s site is in need of mobile user experience improvements as they don’t currently have a mobile-friendly website. The user experience section appears above the site speed section.
Just a subtle way for Google to suggest what area you should focus on first.
Test, Tinker & Improve
If you haven’t utilized the Page Speed Insights Tool yet, what are you waiting for? In addition to the recommendations you will get, Google also as an extensive section on helping you build the best mobile web experience you can. Analyzing and making changes to your mobile site can greatly help your search rankings and especially your satisfied users and successful conversions.
I’d also bet big that Google will continue to add to this tool set to help businesses and marketers gain a better grasp on providing a great mobile web experience.