Mobile websites: Are you optimised?

We interact with mobile screens very differently to the way we do with desktop monitors, so e-commerce sites must be optimised for both. But what exactly does it mean to optimise for mobile?

If your mobile e-commerce site takes longer than five seconds to appear on a phone’s screen, you have lost that customer. If your pricing is not competitive and immediately clear, you’re not in the running for a sale. If you’re not on the first page of search results, including the all-important Google ‘Shopping’ page, then that mobile customer is not even going to know your business exists. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do about these issues and more, says Leonard Sii, Director of digital creative agency Sii Studio.

“One of the key things in responsive websites is that they have to be very simple,” Sii says. “The content must present itself in a simple fashion without complicated graphics.

“This is for two reasons. One is because a complicated graphic loads up the page heavily and your mobile phone browser is not as efficient at rendering as your desktop computer is, so it will be slow. The other is because you really just want to consider your basic call to action.”

As an example, Sii discusses a project he’s currently working on for a bank’s web platform. The vast majority of people go to their bank’s site in order to log in – nothing more and nothing less. So that log-in button has to be front and centre and presented in a very clear and uncomplicated environment.

Often when people search for a business they are only looking for a phone number, opening hours or location. Consider what is your business’s single most important call to action for the majority of your mobile clients and ask whether your mobile site provides a solution to this.

Extra demands on e-commerce sites

But of course an e-commerce site is more demanding and not as simple. People are perhaps visiting to do some shopping or to research a product. In this case, it is important to think about the way customers are most likely to enter your site. Usually it’s not by the front door.

“If an e-commerce site does not have its own app, and therefore is serving customers who come in via a mobile browser, you have to consider the natural process a person will follow whilst looking for a product,” Sii says.

“They will typically begin with Google. They type in the name of the product they are after and Google gives them a list. Then they’ll usually click on ‘Shopping’. That means they can see a pricing structure. If you were building an e-commerce site for mobile you really need to know about search engine optimisation to allow Google to pick up your price, product and picture. So each individual product page must be very well optimised for mobile.”

Page design

As customers are just as likely to enter via a product page rather than your home page, it is also important to ensure that all pages are optimised for mobile screens. This means clear, finger-sized call to action buttons that jump out from the page.

“Screen size is not much of an issue and people are quite forgiving about that,” Sii says. “They are willing to reach upwards to click ‘back’ for instance. Users have been trained to do that because Apple has dominated the market.”

Another gesture people have become very comfortable with is scrolling, which leads Sii to believe that long web pages that scroll downwards – as with Facebook, Twitter, and so on – are better than sites that constantly make you click through to the next page.

Finally, make payment as easy as possible. “Nobody is going to sit there and enter their street address and credit card details on a mobile screen,” Sii says, suggesting that integrating PayPal with your SecurePay process is an extremely good idea.

“You need to eliminate the hassle from the online process. One less click for a user is a win for the business.”

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