Eight principles of mobile-friendliness

We’re sharing eight principles of mobile-friendliness to help you improve your sites.
Vector illustration of a mobile phone

Installing additional software to properly view your site should not be necessary

Week four of our series covers the issue of relying on additional software to properly view your site.

Reading time: 2 minutes

Welcome to Principle 4! This week, we will focus on the issue of relying on additional software to properly view your site. This issue is a major cause of mobile unfriendliness.

Sites that require the use of plugins are a major cause of mobile unfriendliness. Relying on plugins such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Java Virtual Machine, or Microsoft Silverlight may negatively impact the usability of your mobile site. Many mobile browsers do not support these plugins, making your site look “broken.” This issue can be detected using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool,, or the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) Benchmarking Report.

Below, we cover why you should avoid using plugins on your mobile site.

Issue: Plugins may not work well, or work at all, on many different browsers.

Plugins are pieces of software that enable a browser to process certain types of web content it otherwise couldn’t. Plugins require installation and updating prior to use. Some of the most common plugins include:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (.pdf files)
  • Java Virtual Machine (Java applets)
  • Microsoft Silverlight (rich media, interactive web pages)
  • Adobe Flash Player (YouTube videos, .swf files)
  • Apple Quicktime (3D virtual reality schematics)

Most browsers have restrictions or don’t allow plugins at all for mobile page views. However, if you require some functionality that requires using a plugin, consider creating a native application.

Solution: Avoid using plugins!

This one is simple — avoid using plugins at all costs and potentially alienating some of your user base.You may initially be able to make a release that uses a plugin, but it may soon fail as browsers continuously evolve and disallow plugin use.