What does it do?

Tests whether a website is optimised for mobile and tablet devices, and shows a preview of the website in these devices.

Example results

Mobile test

Choosing screenshots

Sitebeam will choose screenshots of key pages automatically, or you may choose your own. Automatic screenshots always include the homepage and use a variant of the PageRank algorithm to guess other pages to feature. If a website has more pages, more screenshots will be shown.

To choose your own screenshots, scroll to the bottom of the results and click the “Set key pages” button.

Set key pages

Why is it important?

Mobile internet usage is set to overtake desktop internet usage by 2014. Not supporting mobile and tablet devices is ignoring a massive segment of your audience.

Technical explanation

This test detects several techniques used to optimise a website for mobile devices:

  • Responsive web design. The website adapts automatically to fit any potential screen size. This is the optimal approach.
  • Adaptive web design.¬†The website detects the user-agent of the browser, and serves different HTML to different devices. This approach works, but is less recommended (see Rationale, below).
  • Browser redirection. The website detects the user-agent of the browser, and redirects to another web address. This approach works, but is less recommended (see Rationale, below).

We simulate a popular smartphone and tablet and get screenshots from the site, giving the site the same parameters it would be given by the smartphone or tablet.


Why does responsive design score higher than other approaches?

Responsive design has numerous advantages:

  1. Responsive pages can cater for any potential device, including devices that haven’t yet been released, or that you don’t know about. Alternatives require you detect browsers by knowing their ‘user agent’ or similar, and are liable to break when encountering new things.
  2. Responsive pages are less work. A responsive page requires no server-side dynamic scripting, and so can be served as static resources, which is both cheaper and faster to do. Responsive pages are variations on one design; other approaches require complete and separate designs to be built.
  3. Responsive pages are better for social and SEO optimisation. By retaining a single URL for pages, any incoming links and social links are focused onto a single point.

There are exceptional circumstances where a totally separate mobile site may be justified, e.g. for a complex mobile app like Facebook. However for common content pages, responsive design is always the preferred approach.

Potential problems

This test cannot detect obscure forms of custom Javascript-based browser detection. If a fragment of JavaScript detects the web browser’s width, for example, and modifies the page accordingly, this test will not recognise that.

How to improve this score

For a maximum score, make your website entirely responsive.

Further reading

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