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Why “Mobile-friendly” Class Registration Websites Matter

Brian Rahill

May 31, 2016

The term “mobile-friendly” seems simple and sounds intuitive, yet it’s often confused. In this article, we discuss what it means for a website to be “mobile-friendly,” and why it’s important for your course registration website to be designed with mobile devices in mind.

Mobile-Friendly Websites are Easier to Use

If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably visited a website that forced you to zoom in on text to read it, or scroll up-and-down or left-to-right to find information. These websites simply shrink the desktop version of their site so that pages completely fit within the container of the smaller screen. Websites that look this way are NOT mobile friendly; they aren’t easy to use from a smartphone or tablet. Instead, they force the user to work hard to find what he or she needs, often causing frustration or abandonment.

Here’s an example of a website not yet optimized for a mobile device. The first image shows how the home page looks from a desktop web browser. The second images show how it looks from an iPhone; they are essentially the same. However, the content is so small on the mobile device that the user is forced to zoom and scroll around the page to get what he or she needs.

A website as viewed from a desktop browser.

A website as viewed from a desktop browser.

A web site not yet optimized for a mobile device.

The web site has not yet been optimized for a mobile device. The font sizes and text boxes are difficult to see and use from a smartphone.


A mobile-friendly website automatically adjusts content on the page to look great, no matter what device you hold in your hand—an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, iPad, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface tablet, etc.—or a large desktop screen. A mobile-friendly website looks great and functions seamlessly, regardless of screen size.

Let’s look at an example of a website optimized for mobile. Below, the first image shows what the website looks like from a desktop web browser. The second show the same website from an iPhone. For the smaller screen, the website automatically made adjustments, like displaying bigger buttons, using a bigger font, simplifying the content, and making sure the image looked best on that device. This means it is optimized for mobile and easy to use.

A website as viewed from a desktop browser.

A website as viewed from a desktop browser.

This web page is optimized for a mobile device.

This web page is optimized for a mobile device. The font size and text boxes are easy to see from a smartphone.

Why Mobile-Friendly Matters

Aside from ease of use, there’s more to consider. Here are four more reasons why a mobile-friendly website is necessary for your course registration website.

1. More people are on mobile devices than desktops.

More people are using mobile devices than ever before. The number of mobile-only users now outpaces the number of desktop-only users, and these numbers are expected to go up. By 2017, 87% of connected devices are expected to be tablets and smartphones. “Smartphones are widely used for navigating numerous important life activities, from researching a health condition to accessing educational resources,” cites the Pew Research Center Report.

2. Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly

About a year ago, Google rolled out new rules for its ‘search results’ algorithms, prioritizing mobile-friendly websites over sites that aren’t. What that means is that if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it will not be ranked as high in search results compared to mobile-friendly sites. Translation: Google literally penalizes sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices!

Not sure whether or not your site is mobile-friendly? Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to find out. Hopefully, you’ll get this message:

Mobile-friendly message

If not, don’t panic. Use the feedback as a baseline and to set a “mobile-friendly” goal for your web site. Begin by taking steps to work on it.

3. Mobile-friendly websites increase user engagement on mobile devices

When a user is faced with obstacles (like zooming and scrolling), he or she will quickly disengage and look for a site that’s easier, or simply abandon the effort altogether. That’s the last thing that you want! (Not to state the obvious, but when your website is easy to use, web visitors are more likely to use it!)

Let’s say a user finds a class on your website from her mobile phone, gets excited, and is ready to sign up! If your online registration pages are optimized for mobile, she’s very likely to register immediately. If she can’t, it’s possible you’ll lose that class registration because she might forget to come back later (from a desktop) or she may get so frustrated, she’ll give up completely.

Use an optimized website to make the most out of your website traffic.

4. You don’t need an app

If your website is mobile-friendly, you don’t need a mobile app for class registrations. A mobile app is expensive, plus it adds a layer of complexity. First, users are forced to find the app in the Apple Store or Google Play, download it, and finally, log in. If your website is mobile-friendly, your users just log in!

When a website is “mobile-friendly,” icons, text, and buttons automatically display in a usable size on a mobile device.

When a website is “mobile-friendly,” icons, text, and buttons automatically display in a usable size on a mobile device.

When a website is “mobile-friendly,” icons, text, and buttons automatically display in a usable size on a mobile device.

CourseStorm is Mobile-Friendly

Maybe you’re wondering if CourseStorm is mobile-friendly. Of course you can breathe easy, the answer is YES!  All pages on a CourseStorm site, from class listings to registration pages, are automatically optimized for mobile devices. We believe so strongly in this feature, we designed our software this way from the beginning. There’s nothing you have to “do” or “set” to make a CourseStorm site friendly for mobile users; it just is.

CourseStorm registration form on a mobile device.

CourseStorm registration form on a mobile device.

We hope this article helped clarify any confusion or questions you had about the term “mobile-friendly” and why it’s critical that your site is optimized for mobile. To summarize, here are the benefits of a course registration website optimized for mobile:

  • Ease of use
  • Accommodate the rising number of mobile users
  • Avoid being penalized by the Google search engine
  • Increase user engagement
  • Help you save money (over a custom-designed app)

We also hope you feel satisfied knowing that every CourseStorm online registration site is “mobile-friendly,” automatically, right from Day One.  As always, if you have any questions, just email, and we’d be happy to answer them!

Brian Rahill

Brian is a scientist-turned-education technology executive. He has founded and led technology companies for more than 20 years and uses his analytical mind and experimental approach to spur growth in small and medium businesses and start-ups. He is passionate about using technology to enhance access to lifelong learning.

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