Google Offers Developer Checklist for Building Better Mobile Sites

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Print this article Print
mobile apps

By building Websites designed for mobile devices, developers can help sites increase mobile transactions and sales.

With the millions of mobile devices out in the marketplace, Website developers need to be sure that the sites that they build and maintain are always optimized to work well on mobile devices so that sales can be closed and revenue can be generated.

That's the advice Maile Ohye, the tech lead for Google's developer programs, offered in a recent post on the Google Developers Blog that includes helpful, informative steps to ensure success.

"To help you capitalize on the huge opportunity to improve your mobile Websites, we published a checklist for prioritizing development efforts," wrote Ohye. "Several topics in the checklist reference relevant studies or business cases. Others contain videos and slides explaining how to use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to understand mobile visitors' experiences and intent."

Among the key steps, she wrote, is to be sure that the mobile pages don't frustrate a company's customers when they access the pages using their mobile devices.

"Remove cumbersome extra windows from all mobile user-agents," according to the checklist, including JavaScript pop-ups that can be difficult to close and overlays, especially those that are used to download apps, she wrote.

Site developers also need to be sure that they "provide device-appropriate functionality" in their Website code, the checklist states. That means that developers must remember to remove features that require plug-ins and videos that aren't playable on a user's device, such as Adobe Flash videos that are not viewable on Apple iPhones or on Android versions 4.1 and higher, the checklist states.

Developers also should be sure that their site code delivers the desktop version of the site—or the tablet version, if available—to tablet users to maximize their experience, the checklist states. "Check that full desktop experience is accessible on mobile phones, and if selected, remains in full desktop version for duration of the session (i.e., user isn't required to select "desktop version" after every page load)."

Also important is that developers need to correct mobile pages that see high traffic while delivering poor user experiences, based on site statistics, the post continued.

Other important steps to keep from frustrating customers can also be found in the full checklist.

Another key step for developers to improve sites for mobile users is to be sure that the code facilitates task completion for the mobile users, wrote Ohye. "Optimize search engine processing and the [search] experience" by unblocking resources such as CSS [Cascading Style Sheets] and JavaScript, while also optimizing popular mobile workflows for sites, the checklist states.

Developers should also be sure that their Website code for mobile devices "turns customers into fans," according to the post. To do that, developers should consider search integration points with mobile apps; investigate and/or attempt to track cross-device workflow such as logged in behavior on different devices; and brainstorm new ways to provide value, such as leveraging the GPS, camera and accelerometer capabilities in modern smartphones, the checklist states. Developers should also build their sites to support mobile behaviors by users, such as comparing prices in-store by shoppers, as well as considering the incorporation of intuitive and fun tactile functionalities, including swiping, shaking and tapping.

Google is often looking at ways to advise developers about serving the always-growing pool of mobile users and shoppers.

In November, Google released its latest Google Cloud Endpoints project for general availability, which aims to make it easier for mobile developers to tie their apps into Google's APIs. For mobile developers, Endpoints provides a simple way to develop a shared Web back end and also provides critical infrastructures, such as OAuth 2.0 authentication, eliminating a great deal of work that would otherwise be needed, according to Google. Google Cloud Endpoints provide developers with a simple way to create, expose and consume APIs served from App Engine.

Because the API back end is an App Engine app, the mobile developer can use all of the services and features available in App Engine, such as Datastore, Google Cloud Storage, Mail, URL Fetch, Task Queues and others. The API back end is an App Engine app that performs business logic and other functions for Android and iOS clients, as well as JavaScript Web clients.

Also in November, Google began promoting its Google Cloud Platform as a way for app developers to capture more of the growing market in mobile games by harnessing the power of Google Cloud Platform to expand their games to more users. The idea is that by using the company's powerful cloud platform, mobile game developers will have the infrastructure behind them to make their games successful, no matter how many users play them and push them to their limits.