The market today is dominated by mobile users. This includes both smartphones and tablet users. In fact, ever since the launch of the iPad, tablet sales have been coming in strong. The market for personal computers is slowly being eaten by tablet users. Various studies and statistics also showed that internet users from the mobile market are increasing at a rapid pace due to the expansion of internet accessibility.
The increase in mobile internet users also means that more people are buying things over the internet not only through their computers but also through their mobile devices. As such, it only makes much sense for an e-commerce website to simplify the daunting task of buying products through mobile devices. A lot of big names such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy already have mobile applications for their devices and this means that you should to.
Know thy users
Know your users first
Today, it is increasingly important that you know whom the majority of your users are, especially your mobile users. Knowing who the users are is the first step in optimizing your e-commerce website. This means that you should take a look at Google Analytics under the mobile section. Find out whether the bulk of your users are Android or iOS users and whether they browse on tablets or smartphones. In fact, you can even find out which browser they are using and through all of this, you can easily optimize your website to suit the majority of your users.
Focus on Important Things
When we talk about focusing on the important things, we mean the content of your website. The screen estate of a smartphone or a tablet is a lot smaller than it is on a computer. This means that you will need to filter the contents that should and should not be inside your mobile website. On the product page, put the necessary under a drop-down box so that each section can be opened and closed without much clutter. As for text, it would also be good to provide a stripped down version so that customers can read with much ease instead of needing to scroll through a lot of texts.
Think from user’s perspective
When optimizing your e-commerce website, you should also think like your user. If you don’t really know how to do this, go to a competitor’s website that has a mobile version. See the features that you like and you don’t like. From here, you can make a list of what needs to be changed and the features that you find important. Remember, the ease of using the website is important to give the user the best browsing experience. This in return will also mean higher turnover rate as compared with a website that is not optimized for tablets and smartphones.
Design keeping Mobile Devices in mind
The design of your mobile website should take note of a lot of factors. Mobile websites are different as compared with the full version. As such, you should know what to modify and what to retain in order to maximize readability and navigation. When you do these correctly, then you will see good results on the turnover rate of your website.
Improve Navigation of your Website
A mobile website is different from the normal website. It is different in its design, simplicity and many more. Mobile websites for example, do not have the menu bar at the top like the normal website. Instead, many webmasters put it at the bottom of the page. This is so that when the user finishes reading the article, he or she can decide to go to a different section from the bottom of the page.,
As a tip, websites that do not have much content can have navigation at the top but for most websites, having navigation at the bottom is better. For an e-commerce website, it may be wise to put the breadcrumb at the top instead of the bottom.
Responsive Design is the default standard now
A lot of big websites today like to make use of responsive design and for most instances, it pays. A responsive design is one that suits the screen resolution of the user. This means that on a tablet, it fixes the design in a way that it is big enough to view on the screen of tablet. The same goes with a smaller screen on a smartphone. The design itself is fluid so that there is no need for much changes (or different versions) on the website. Having a responsive design is good because you only have one design that can be suited for a lot of different devices.
Design for both Touchscreen and Non-Touchscreen Users
While a lot of your visitors possibly have touchscreen devices, there are still a handful of them that does not (read: BlackBerry users). That does not mean that you should neglect them. Instead, design your website for both touchscreen and non-touchscreen users.
Another thing to take note is that your text should not be too small. Links should not be too close together as well because visitors often hit the wrong link when fingers tend to be too thick. That is why you should ensure that the size is just right so that there will not be any accidental clicking on the wrong link.
Reduce the Content
While we agree that content is king, you need to be a bit pickier when it comes to contents on a mobile website. The reason comes back to the lack of screen estate. On an e-commerce website, you need to make sure that your customers see more of the product and less on the navigation side of your website.
On the page, you need to make sure that only the most important content or features are highlighted while the non-important ones can be left out. To make it easier, anything on the main section of the page can be considered as important contents while anything at the sidebars are less important. A lot of websites neglect sidebars as a whole on their mobile version. It might do you much good to do that as well.
The difference in mobile website is that it needs to be focused and this means having concise information. It should be easy to read and navigate through and at the same time, loads fast. This means that the images need to be compressed and even re-sized. Not everyone has LTE connection so you need to make sure that your website loads quickly and efficiently.
Single Column Layout
If you noticed, most big websites that has mobile version works in a single column layout. The reason being that single column layout offers the best visibility and readability to the user, hence, making it the best layout choice for mobile users. The same goes to e-commerce mobile sites. You will need to optimize your website in such a way that all the necessary information goes in a single column. As a rule, if you need to zoom in to read the contents on your website, then your website is not yet optimized.
Always do Usability Testing
Usability testing may be the most important aspect of a mobile website. This is because usability testing determines whether your mobile website is ready for the big time or not. Through usability testing, you can easily find out whether there is anything wrong with your mobile website and whether it is user friendly or not.
Usability testing isn’t complicated. You need to find a group of testers (someone outside of the developing committee) to use the mobile website. Give them some task and see whether they can do it with ease or not. From there, you can get their feedback on the website and then see which section that you need to improve and which section that needs to be removed. We highly recommend that you do usability testing for your mobile e-commerce website because without it, your website will not be as optimized.
Mobile website is good but but don’t ignore native apps
If you have the necessary funding, then we highly recommend that you create a mobile application for your e-commerce website. The best language that you can use is HTML5 as this allows you to create a single application that can be used across various platforms. This means that by using HTML5, you can create application for Android, iOS, BlackBerry and even Windows Phone users. However, the potential downside is that HTML5 can be a bit sluggish as compared with the native language but this can easily be compensated with the advancement of today’s mobile devices.
The main advantage of having a mobile application is that it shows that your e-commerce website is established. In addition to that, you can play around in a way that is not possible on a mobile device. This means that you can create a new version of your website as an application instead. As a good example, you should take a look at Etsy or even Airbnb as the two have interfaces better than most e-commerce applications out there.