Like it or loath it more and more people use their phones as a primary web browsing device. In some areas it will be the way that a majority of your site visitors see your site, so making the mobile browsing experience just as easy and engaging as the desktop experience is increasingly important. Add to that Google constantly tweaks their search algorithm and one of the parameters is the mobile friendliness of your site. So having a site that does not show up well on a phone not only will turn away potential customers, it will drop you in the search listings making it harder for ANY customers to find you.
If your site is more than three years old, chances are it is not mobile friendly to today's standards. Let's take a look at the basics of what "mobile friendly" means today.
There are essentially two ways that websites can be set up for mobile devices. The older way was to set up a completely separate mobile site. This worked ... sort of. It was dependent on the device and browser correctly identifying themselves to your website, and on your website being able to tell the difference between a phone and a tablet and a laptop and a desktop computer. Not surprisingly this did not always work well and there are very few circumstances where this would be recommended today.
Today's approach is called Responsive Design. Instead of getting the phone or computer to tell your website who they are, your website sends instructions to them on how it should look based on the size of the screen. The website doesn't care if it is being seen on a 4" wide phone or a 27" monitor, it comes with a set of instructions that changes the layout based on that screen and leaves it to the device to follow those instructions.
Choosing how the layout looks as the screen size shrinks is part of your designers job, but we can look at a few key principles.
There is a wealth of detail that we could outline here regarding mobile first design and responsive design, but for a business owner looking at their site, the three principles outlined above are key.
Look at your site on your phone.
Are the menus easy to operate on a touch screen?
Is the text easy to read without zooming in?
Is the information that you would expect people in transit or walking down the street to need to find, prominent and clearly highlighted?
If you can't answer any of these questions with a resounding YES, then your website needs help to optimized for mobile devices.