If you own, operate, or design e-commerce websites (or want to launch one for your business), there are two important facts you should know:
- Mobile Internet browsing officially overtook desktop browsing in 2016.
- Google now indexes the mobile version of websites instead of the desktop version.
This means all of your design and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts should go toward improving the user experience on smartphones and tablets.
Below are seven design tips to help you get there.
1. Make Your Site Responsive
Having a “responsive” site means that your e-commerce store looks great on all screen sizes and types. It shouldn’t matter if a customer uses a large PC screen, mini-tablet (in portrait mode), or smartphone (in landscape mode). The basic layout and formatting should automatically adjust to fit that user’s screen.
2. Optimize for Page Load Speed
The speed with which your site loads has long been a ranking factor among the major search engines. This factor is especially important on mobile devices, since they often use slower connections and less powerful hardware when rendering websites.
To make your site load faster, you should:
- Break content into sections
- Optimize and scale images
- Eliminate unnecessary code
3. Add More White Space Throughout
Most people don’t read online anymore. They skim. This is true on desktop computers, but it is particularly true on mobile devices. Smartphone users don’t want to wade through dense passages of text to get the gist of your marketing messages.
The fix is to add more white space by using:
- Shorter sentences throughout
- Clear paragraph headings and breaks
Don’t forget the navigation bar. You can save a lot of real estate if the mobile version of your site uses an expandable hamburger menu (with its three vertically stacked lines).
4. Add ‘Visible’ Calls to Action
A “call to action” (CTA) is the prompt that websites use to get visitors to take that next important step, whether it’s to:
- Sign up for a newsletter
- Request more information
- Buy product X now
On desktop sites, these CTAs are usually in the navigation or sidebars. On mobile devices, both of these areas are often hidden from view unless users expand a section, click a button, or scroll a lot.
When designing for smartphones and tablets, all of your CTAs should be clear, accessible, and above the fold so that users can easily take whatever action you ask of them.
5. Focus on Tactile Experiences
This point is similar to the above, but the most important CTAs throughout your site should all be easily clickable (or rather — “tappable”).
That’s because today’s web visitors are often stuck using large fingers on tiny screens. Adding text-based hyperlinks or small buttons increases the chances that users will click on the wrong item.
Instead, design all of your CTAs as clear, bold buttons that are easy to tap — even when displayed on the smallest screens.
6. Avoid Pop-Ups at All Costs
Regardless of screen size, no one enjoys pop-ups. On desktop browsers, these annoyances are relatively simple to dismiss with a simple mouse click. On mobile devices, however, they can be incredibly disruptive to the user experience — so much so that Google has started to penalize sites that use intrusive pop-ups.
If you want to rank well and generate sales, it’s best to avoid pop-ups altogether.
Instead, design your site’s layout so that the most important calls to action are always visible and accessible.
7. Offer Users a Guest Checkout Option
As a website owner, it’s nice to capture contact information with every sale. Doing so allows you to later promote products or offer discounts.
Yet, the more fields you request during checkout, the more friction users have to overcome. This is certainly true on desktop computers, but it’s even more frustrating if you have to supply a lot of details using a small smartphone keyboard.
The best way to remove this friction is to offer a “guest checkout” option. Visitors can use saved payment data from their phones to populate the checkout form. With one click, they can complete their purchases.
If guest checkout isn’t an option for your e-commerce store, make sure to only ask for the minimum information required to complete a successful sale.
In the early days of smartphone technology, it was standard practice to design desktop-oriented sites that could also work well on mobile devices. Moving forward, consider doing all of your design and testing exclusively for smart devices.
If it looks good on mobile, it’ll also look good on desktop.
This “mobile first” approach will help your site attract more visitors, generate more sales, and retain more customers as society increasingly uses smartphone technology to navigate the world.
Author bio: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a leading provider of technology-enabled payment processing for POS, e-commerce, and mobile interfaces. She brings more than 20 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing.