a man plans a responsive web design using a white board

How to Test Your WordPress Site for Mobile Usability Problems

When’s the last time you walked into a store and had trouble finding what you were looking for? Do you remember feeling frustrated? Unsatisfied?

In a lot of ways, the layout of a store is similar to the layout of your website, in that visitors should easily be able to find what they’re looking for. Take Ikea, for example.

Ikea stores are strategically designed as a “conveyor belt,” where the customer flow begins at the store entrance and seamlessly ends at the exit–with little wiggle room for customers to traverse around the store as they please.

While some first-time Ikea visitors might initially think this point-A-to-point-B methodology as annoying or forceful, it’s ultimately neither of those. In fact, it’s helpful.

It’s navigable.

It’s user-friendly.

testing mobile usability on a tablet using stylus

Websites aren’t so different. The usability of a website can make or break a customer’s purchase decision. It can determine whether or not a customer continues to surf or even remain on your site. It can even impact the mental association a customer creates with your brand–whether it’s positive or negative.

When it comes to your WordPress site, usability reigns supreme. The more usable the site, the better the user experience. The better the user experience, the happier you (and your bank account!) are.

As users experience taste changes in interface design and as brands continue to innovate their websites, usability issues are sometimes inevitable.

So how do you ensure that your WordPress site isn’t experiencing usability issues?

By testing it.

Here’s how to test your site for usability problems.

Theme Responsiveness

the backend of a WordPress site live on macbook

If you’ve received a notification from Google Webmaster Tools that your site is experiencing usability issues, there could be a couple of culprits.

This problem often arises, however, due to the WordPress theme you’ve chosen. While third-party sites like Themeforest offer thousands of unique WordPress themes, only a number of them are built to be highly-responsive designs.

If Google reports a low usability score for your website, chances are the theme you currently have installed isn’t a particularly responsive one.

But there’s good news! It’s a quick fix. You can simply switch your site to another theme (which should automatically migrate your site data) or you can hire a developer to make your website more responsive.

Most developers know the tricks of the trade when it comes to increasing responsiveness, and more often than not, they can enhance your site’s responsiveness within one or two work sessions.

Google Webmaster Tools is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward way to test your WordPress site for usability issues. Don’t fret. Google has your back.

Mobile Usability

woman tests mobile usability on a Microsoft phone

Mobile’s exponential growth trajectory is really nothing short of spectacular. As mobile usage continues to grow, users and websites need to continuously adapt to changes in functionality, user experience, and user interface.

For now, though, mobile usability is still crucial, with mobile phones becoming the standard for internet access.

In the past, Google would crawl your WordPress site and then retrieve the site in HTML form. But gone are the days of site fetching.

As usability preferences adapt, so does Google. Google’s SEO algorithms now favor strong mobile sites. They also primarily consider the interface and overall appearance of your website from the human perspective of a mobile user–not a robot’s.

If mobile usability issues surface, however, you can test your current WordPress site by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Here’s what it looks like:

screenshot of the google mobile usability testing welcome screen
preview of google mobile usability testing

With the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool, simply enter your site’s URL.

Google will fetch your site and glance over the specs exactly as the user would and then spit back a brief analysis detailing the overall usability of your mobile site.

Google also includes a complimentary mobile usability guide that includes tools for increasing your site’s user-friendliness.

It’s safe to say the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool is pretty handy.

You can feel free to use trial and error by running the Test Tool in between back-end changes you make to your WordPress site. Make a few changes, type in your URL again, and see if there’s an improvement. Rinse, repeat.

Testing your site for usability issues doesn’t always have to be done through the Google bots, either.

an iPhone on a notebook next to a green pen

You can put on a UX hat and get down to the research grind. Ask friends and family to sift through your site and note any weaknesses in the overall site flow and user experience.

This can help you knock out any issues that are quick fixes or even ones that you might not have caught yourself.

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