PAGEANT - "Education is the future"
Progress Towards Mobile Friendly
Responsive Web Pages
In 2015 it was clear that smartphones and other mobile devices would soon be the main way of accessing the internet. The Pageant website was born in 2003, and had been designed with only desktop computers in mind. There were serious usability issues when viewed on small screen devices. So we started a programme of converting our main pages to a 'responsive' format, so that they could be viewed equally well on large or small screens. This work was largely completed in 2018, but we still have a large number of 'archive' pages. These are accessed so infrequently that we didn't feel it was worth the effort of conversion. The table below summarises the process of getting our website mobile friendly.
|Pageant website becoming mobile friendly|
|year||total pages||responsive pages||responsive views||mobile hits|
Total pages and responsive pages show the status of responsive conversion at the end of these years. Responsive views is the proportion of views of Pageant web pages which were of responsive pages over the entire year. We did not measure this for 2015 or 2016. Mobile hits is the proportion of hits (number of files fetched from our server) by mobile and other small screen devices. So though the website is now largely smartphone friendly, our main users are still on large screen devices.
The information shown above was all collected using webmaster tools available through our web hosting service. The data refers to all website access: direct input of URL, links from other websites and bookmarks, as well as links from search engines. Maybe smartphone users are mainly new to our website, in which case access via a search engine would be most important. There is an additional webmaster tool available called the Google Search Console which can provide much of this information.
|Google searches for Pageant pages|
The above data is for a 12 month period to the end of February 2020. Impressions is the number of times that a Pageant web page link appears in a users search results. Clicks is the number of times that a user clicks on one of these to access a Pageant page. CTR or click-through rate, is the ratio of 'clicks' to 'impressions'. Note that we only have a small percentage of users on tablets. Most tablets have a screen width capable of displaying the full width of the Pageant web page of 620 pixels, so could be lumped together with desktops.
So mobile users constitute about a third of users making a Google search whose listing includes a Pageant page. This is not too different from the proportion of users accessing our website from mobiles by all methods. The big surprise is the higher click-through rate for mobile users. If anyone has a good explanation for this, please let me know.
Another piece of information emerging from the Google Search Console is that Google views the Pageant website as a 'mobile' site. So the crawler which gathers page data does so from a mobile user's viewpoint. All of our 230 archive pages will be judged by this crawler to contain errors. This will undoubtedly adversely affect Pageant's ranking for Google search results.
The question is - what to do about it? The options are:
- Leave the archive pages as they are, and not worry about our Google search ranking.
- Delete all archive pages. This would involve a lot of work removing internal links, and setting up diversions for external links - and we would lose some valuable archive material.
- Convert all archive pages to responsive format. This would involve even more work, but would not require any changes to links.
- Move all archive pages to a separate website. This would involve an extra expense of setting up another website, and would also need lots of editing of links.
None of these options seems attractive, so a compromise might be to look at archive pages in small batches, and make a decision either to delete or convert. Probably this is what will happen. So the conversion process has not finished after all!
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