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How to Deliver Great User Experience to the Mobile Customers of Your Shopping Web Site

November 12, 2010

How Important is it to Take Care of Mobile Users?

The latest reports show 110% growth of mobile web usage in the US and 148% worldwide for the last year. Internet-on-the-move is proving a preferred activity over reading newspapers, for ex. in a typical week 71 million Europeans browse the mobile Internet spending almost an hour a day online via their mobile device, which means a total of 6.4 hours per week.

Have a look at your current website traffic statistics and you might found out that 1/3 of your visitors are already mobile.

Business has realized that mobile communications are offering extensive opportunities for gaining new markets, customers and of course – fresh revenues. This comes as no surprise since today’s consumers carry shops and services in their hand, and subscribing is a matter of clicking a button from virtually any location.

It’s m-Commerce Time!

Why do we need a mobile version of our desktop shopping website?

Try to browse the desktop version of your product catalog using a mobile handset.

1. If you’re using a standard mobile phone you’ll see just plain text and almost no options for searching and reading.

2. If you have a smartphone but not a fancy touchscreen one, you’re going to roll the joystick or use the keyboard in an attempt to navigate from point A to B, read the text and search for what you need. I’m sure you’ll agree it is a rather frustrating ordeal to navigate through such a website.

3. Your new touchscreen smartphone allows dragging and zooming, however if the website isn’t optimized for touchscreens you remain uncertain whether you’ve successfully clicked on a link right up until the next page loads.

What you’ve got is a poor user experience (UX).

All this means that a regular desktop web site just doesn’t work for mobile users simply because it doesn’t offer the expected UX.

How to provide better UX for your mobile customers?

The following points refer to both desktop and mobile websites and refer to some basic usability or UX rules. When speaking about mobile websites however, and especially about m-Commerce, these rules are even more applicable due to the specifics of mobile devices, the mobile net and context of use.

Beginning
Browse some popular trusted brands’ mobile websites and make note of what helped you easily navigate the sites.
Monitor your mobile traffic (use analytics) – find out which are the most popular mobile devices and optimize for them first.

Navigation
Review and optimize the lists of product categories you offer. Their names must be as obvious, explanatory and popular as possible. Depending on the number of categories decide how to organize the navigation – block or search type. Give a clear sign where Home is.

Content
Attempt to enable users to successfully manage information displayed on the screen by carefully organizing pages. When possible reduce the content of the pages – focus on important info. Carefully assess the points that will help your customers make a choice and those that just add noise.

Layout
Make it light!
Omit unnecessary graphics and pictures.
Resize product images and organize areas in the layout according to the main purpose of your site – to enable fast and easy search of products, adding goods to the shopping cart and proceeding with checkout. Surely, there should be branding of the pages identifying the site as YourShoppingSite, but don’t overdo it.

Finishing
To improve the UX of your mobile site take the next step – test with users. As a start you can appoint some of your friends or family members as “test users”, and ask them to buy something using their mobile phones. Ask them to share problems and positive experiences they encounter while browsing your mobile site and fix critical problems. You can also hire a usability consultant for testing and review.

Going mobile for an e-Commerce business is a must nowadays. It’s a huge opportunity for gaining new markets, customers, and fresh revenues.

The necessity for a positive UX ranks right up there with the marketing efforts to drive traffic to your mobile site. What you are offering is very important but so is the ease of use for customers to take advantage of it as well as the way you convert visitors into buyers.

The UX is capable of either boosting or ruining your business. If you follow the few points shared above you are more likely to succeed with your mobile adventure. However this article certainly doesn’t encompass all aspects of the subject, and I will be glad if you were to add other critical points to consider.

Author: Rumiana Russeva

3 comments

  • November 23, 2010 7:46 am | Bo Stahlbrandt

    Rumiana,

    There is definitely an increased interest m-commerce and we have been approached by operators that previously were not interested, asking us to mobile enable their stores.

    The easy-of-use is a killer criteria on the mobile devices – and if the app does not support it, it will not fly.

    My best
    Bo

  • December 1, 2010 11:41 am | Rumiana Russeva

    Hi Bo,
    It seems we both agree on the importance of mobilizing business, not just for the sake of getting into the mobile world, but delivering great UX.
    Best,
    R.

  • December 5, 2010 3:43 pm | Sean Brady

    I believe the same as you do with mobile content. I believe it’s very important to cater to both media types. This is not very easy for a webmaster without a smart phone though. Someone needs to come out with some type of simulators and what not like the IPhone tools have… I don’t think the same is available for Droid!

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