With smartphone web browsing more popular than on laptops and desktops, and Google using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, it’s now more important than ever to ensure your site offers up a great mobile experience.
For a lot of businesses, this simply means upgrading to a responsive website – but don’t be fooled. Just because your site can adjust to fit different smartphone and tablet screens, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s truly optimised for those users.
Issues like long loading times, confusing navigation and ugly layout are huge obstacles to conversion for your potential customers. Here are a few tips on how to break down the barriers and get the performance you want from your mobile site.
Make your mobile experience intuitive
On desktop screens, you have a lot of room to not only arrange all the different elements of your site together comfortably, but also to explain what each of them actually does.
On mobile screens, you have to be a lot more conservative with your space. Not only that, but you also have to rely on visual clues to tell the user what to do next. If the customer can’t even work out how to operate your website, they won’t be sticking around to eventually make a purchase.
Use big, clear buttons (especially for CTAs) and carefully consider the copy and/or icons you use for each one, so the visitor knows what they’ll do before they tap on them.
Arrows are handy for indicating progression or ‘go back’ options, or for showing users they can tap to open (or close) drop-down boxes and menus. Colour-coding your tappable site features can also help users to get their bearings.
(Be sure to give each button and element a bit of breathing space, so visitors won’t end up tapping on the wrong button by mistake!)
Set out your navigation clearly
Communicating the usability of your site is only half the battle – you also have to make browsing for products as intuitive as possible.
Again, the limitations of mobile means you have less freedom than you do on desktop. Don’t try to cram a large horizontal navbar onto a smartphone screen, and definitely don’t try to display all your subcategories in a mega drop-down menu – there’s simply not enough room to display them comfortably.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for navigation – it’s smart to test various navigation setups to see which ones work best with your audience.
One option is to translate your horizontal navigation into a vertical sidebar of parent categories, with each one also serving as a tappable drop-down showing the subcategories nested within that category. The whole menu should be hidden when the page initially loads and can then be accessed by tapping a menu button in the top left corner.
It’s a fairly elegant system, but if you’re housing subcategories within subcategories, it’s easy for the menu to start feeling cluttered and confusing for your users, which may drive them away before they’ve even started viewing products.
Provide on-site search that works
For customers who already have a rough idea of what they’re looking for, on-site search provides the quickest route to the products they want to see – as long as it actually works, and they can actually find the search bar in the first place.
To make sure your search is serving up relevant results for your customers’ queries, your products need to be appropriately tagged with the kinds of keywords they’re using. Bear in mind that some customers will search using a synonym (for example ‘desks’ instead of ‘tables’ and vice versa), and some may use a catalogue number to search.
It’s wise to include auto-suggestion functionality with image thumbnails, so users can find and click on the product they want before they’ve even finished typing.
Ensure your search bar features at the top of the page and is well signposted, so your buyers can’t possibly miss it.
Create persuasive product pages
It might sound obvious, but it’s easy to strip your product pages back so far that they no longer inspire visitors to buy. Make sure your product pages offer all the information the customer needs to make a confident buying decision.
While brief, succinct content is better when it comes to mobile, it’s not ideal for customers who need more detailed, engaging product information (not to mention, creating a separate set of descriptions just for smartphone and tablet users is expensive and time-consuming).
To get around this issue, display the first line or two of the product description on the page (ensuring it sums up the product nicely) and give your users a ‘read more’ option so they can open the full product description content (and close it when they’ve read enough).
Don’t forget to include high-quality images with views from multiple angles, and if possible, provide video content and 360 viewers to give the buyer a better impression of the product’s scale and function. Video content is also useful for delivering product information in a faster and more engaging format than text content.
Of course, integrating rich media content into a responsive site comes with its own set of challenges; which brings us neatly onto…
Reduce loading times
Users hate waiting for a page to load – in fact, most users will only wait around 6 to 10 seconds before giving up and going somewhere else. A slow-to-load website might affect your incoming traffic from search too, as Google now uses loading speed as a ranking factor in its algorithm.
Unfortunately, your mobile site has more to contend with when it comes to loading. First off, there’s the fact that many of your smartphone users will be visiting you on a slower 4G or 3G connection, rather than wired or wi-fi internet access.
There’s also the number of bytes being pushed to mobile devices. Simply put, many responsive sites waste time by loading the data for everything – even elements which don’t appear when the site is viewed on smartphones and tablets, or information which isn’t relevant to the user’s particular device.
Try incorporating server-side components into your responsive design, so the site fetches only the right data for each mobile user. (For example, there’s no point in pushing giant-resolution images and videos to small screens, so provide smaller, lower-resolution media for each screen size group.)
To help loading times feel faster for the user, you should provide clear indication that your site is processing the page. Adding a loading spinner helps to dispel the idea that your site isn’t working, while featuring subtle feedback animation on your buttons helps users know the site has registered their tap – both these techniques help to alleviate user anxiety and keep them on the path towards conversion.
Streamline your checkout process
The checkout is the place where your customers are most likely to drop out of the conversion funnel, so you need to ensure your site’s checkout process is free from resistance.
Try to keep checking out as quick and straightforward as possible. Keep form fields to a minimum – the longer it takes to fill in their details, the more likely your customer will leave without completing their purchase.
Provide users with the option to log in with their existing accounts, and/or use third-party payment services (such as Paypal, Amazon Payments and Google Wallet) to pay for their orders – these allow them to effectively skip through parts of the checkout process and get them to that ‘confirm order’ button sooner.
You should also look out for form input and validation issues, such as how the user types in their postcode. Does your checkout form still accept the postcode if it omits or includes the space in the middle?
Another common issue is auto-capitalisation, which might be handy for some forms (such as names and addresses) but are just irritating and needless for others (such as postcode and email addresses).
It’s especially frustrating if you use case-sensitive double-entry validation – if the user turns off the capitalisation for the first entry and misses it on the second, they’ll hit a validation error and be forced to go back and change it. Be sure to turn off auto-capitalisation for forms where it’s unnecessary.
Let users continue the buying journey on desktop
Some customers will browse for products on their smartphones, but ultimately end up using their desktop to make the purchase. There can be any number of reasons for this – perhaps the user doesn’t feel the mobile site provides enough information, they don’t feel comfortable sending their bank details over a 4G connection, or they’re running low on data and they don’t want their phone to conk out halfway through the checkout.
In any case, don’t miss out on converting these users into customers. Provide an option to email the user’s shopping cart to themselves, so they can continue their buying journey when they get home.
If you’re looking to optimise your site for more mobile conversions, we are happy to lend a helping hand. As well as offering responsive web design services, our team can also help you review your site’s performance and optimise your design and content to better suit the needs of your customers. Get in touch for more information!