Always remember that a best practice shared by someone may not be best for others. These best practices are not created equally but are just the starting points. In this article series, we will go through the highly researched mobile site best practices or guidelines. Our goal is to expand our knowledge of developing astonishing mobile sites and validate best practices with quantitative data on how users perceive a mobile site in the specific dimension of appearance, clarity, credibility, and usability.
It would be best to use these article guidelines in your practice, but it is not what you should end up with. It is where you should start your optimization. You should be at least as good as these guidelines. Remember, these are the current web practices. What used to work 2 years ago might not work anymore. The tactic figure is real. People, web technologies, and marketing trends are always changing, and wins are always perishable.
We recommend considering these guidelines but also consider how your specific website fits or differentiates from the guidelines. You can apply these practices on your mobile site right away, although we recommend testing them first. They may not be applied in every case. Let’s go through the first part of “How to improve the UX of the Mobile Site of your E-commerce Store?”
1. Try To Design Your Mobile Site First (i.e., Before Designing The Desktop Site)
We all know the importance of mobile devices in our sales. More than 50% of the sales are made from mobile devices. Designing your mobile site is neither fun nor easy. It is the smartest way to begin designing your site. Let’s know why:
The restrictions are mobile devices are higher than any other platform. The screens are smaller in size, and the bandwidth is low, and many other restrictions. If you start from scratch with the mobile site, complications that come with graceful degradation (such as functions that don’t translate across platforms or unwanted data which takes more time to load) can be avoided.
Next, a user-friendly mobile site should be clean, intuitive, and fast to load. These requirements force the designers to understand why the users visit the site and which content and features are essential.
A better UX on the mobile platforms means the users can easily find everything they are looking for and nothing more. Besides this, developing a clear framework for prioritized content reduces the workload for designing the desktop site.
2. Automatically Redirect Mobile Site, And The Pages Must Be Mobile Optimized
The numbers of mobile users are still increasing, increasing the number of shoppers from mobile. People make frequent purchases from their mobile phones and expect it to be easy. If you’re not keeping up, you are falling behind.
To keep up, the e-commerce site should be optimized for all devices. Deliver a better mobile experience by an optimized mobile site, i.e., a fully responsive mobile site.
Responsive design is a practice in which the web pages adjust to the screen it is being viewed on. The web page content automatically adapts to different devices’ screens such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, desktops, etc. There will be no changes in the content and functionalities with this approach.
With a responsive site, the same URL corresponds with all platforms. It simply means that there will be no separate URLs for the mobile devices, and users don’t have to wait to redirect on these URLs. Less load time = better mobile experience. Additionally, all SEO goes to one URL.
An adaptive site is like a responsive site, but there isn’t a single layout for any screen size. Instead, there are multiple layouts for different screen sizes. The site detects which device is being used and displays the respective layout.
It is easy to achieve this guideline by developing a responsive mobile site. Make sure to QA the site across different platforms and devices (with different browsers). Also, check all pages on the site to make sure they are mobile optimized. The key here is to offer an optimal user experience for mobile users.
3. Consistent Design Across Different Platforms For A Smoother UX
You need to maintain consistency and standard across all platforms and devices for ensuring usability. It means that users will encounter the same visuals, patterns, and flows on your e-commerce store regardless of the device they are using. In short, users accessing your e-commerce store through a mobile device or desktop browser have the same experience.
As the screen sizes are different, the need for different layouts may arise, but in a consistently designed experience, users will recognize familiar functionalities.
Many startups and entrepreneurs make the mistake of treating desktop and mobile sites as different products. This approach can create inconsistency, resulting in poorer UX and the potential for misunderstanding the company’s brand.
You can avoid this problem. Here are a few recommendations:
A. Visual Identity
Try to use the same colors, appearance, font styles, visual elements, etc.
B. Consistent Iconography
app and web icons should represent the same functionality
The names of buttons, links, and menu options should be the same on both mobile and desktop website
D. Interactions & flow
The navigation process for each feature should be the same (e.g., finding a product or checkout method)
E. Coordination Between Designers, Developers, & testers
Everyone in the team should have a similar understanding of every feature deployed.
Applying these basic concepts that users feel comfortable using both web and mobile services without difficulty.
4. Leverage Analytics To Prioritize A Device While Designing Your Mobile Site
We all access a website through our mobile devices at least once. But if you know which mobile device or platform is being used most to surf your store, you can optimize your site best for that device.
Analytical tools such as Google Analytics can give you efficient, quick, and clear metrics insights to determine exactly how a user accesses your website. Using Google Analytics, you can get the answers to the following questions:
- How many users who visited the website were from the Android or iOS community?
- What fraction of the visitors are using devices with a low-resolution screen?
- Is there a difference in the number of page visits from users using the latest Android version and the 2 years old one?
- How long are iOS mobile users spending on the store in comparison to android ones?
- What type of connection was used? Wifi or mobile data?
Data like this is precious for product strategy, and the companies can focus on your target audience. They can create products that suit the real needs of their users.
E.g., An e-commerce store has a lot of images, content, and a long listing that requires scrolling on the screen. They may realize that most users stay on the site for a few seconds. The company can check the profile of the devices that have accessed their site. If the users who are leaving are using devices with small screens and low resolutions, people may be leaving the site due to poor UX. So the next step we can take is to improve UX.
In short, the more we know about users, the more we can ensure an accessible, efficient, and enjoyable product.
5. Test Mobile Versions Of Your Site
You must check how your website looks and works on different mobile devices. There are certain tools available which you can use to test your website.
A. Google’s Mobile-Friendly
This is a straightforward tool. You need to enter your site URL, and Google will generate a “user-friendly” review. The review can be like this:
“This page is easy to use on a mobile device.”
“Page is not mobile-friendly – this page can be difficult to use on a mobile device. Fix the following issues:
- Text too small to read
- Viewport not set
- Clickable elements too close together
- Uses incompatible plugins.”
B. Mobiletest. me
In the mobile test.me, you need to enter the website URL you want to check and select the device and operating system. From there, you can get the complete website view on any mobile device. By testing, you can fix the errors before the launch.
6. Make Flexible & Fluid Design Layouts
In today’s market, there are plenty of mobile resolutions and screen sizes which increases the efforts of designers. The densities of many devices also vary. From the low-density screen (360pixels) to the high-density screen (4K), here are the common ways of describing the density:
- Low density (ldpi)
- Medium density (mdpi)
- High density (hdpi)
- xhdpi (Extra high density)
- xxhdpi (Extra-extra high density)
- xxxhdpi (Extra-extra-extra high density)
Here are some simple terms related to density
Number of pixels on the screen
B. Density-Independent Pixel (DP)
A virtual pixel unit defines a UI layout. A DP expresses layout dimensions or position in a density-independent way. The DP is equaled to 1 physical pixel on a 160dpi screen.
C. Screen Size
The size of the screen is measured as screen diagonal length.
D. Screen Density
Quantity of the pixels within the physical area of the screen, usually represented by dots per inch.
All these concepts can be applied while developing the mobile site. It makes sure that the interfaces are adaptable across all devices. This is called a fluid interface. In short, a fluid interface is one in which dimensions are defined in percentage.
7. If You Are Not Using Responsive Design, Then Create Separate URLs For Maintaining Consistency
While designing the UI of the e-commerce store, designers should think about how content will be displayed, and users with different devices will access it. In certain scenarios, the proportion and layout differ a lot from the original design specifications. When websites aren’t designed to fit on multiple devices, they are not “responsive.”
Responsive design is a development technique that detects the client device type and adjusts its design to adapt to the screen size on which it is displayed. Thus, the same content may be displayed in 3 column format on a desktop, 2 column format on a tablet, and 1 column format on a smartphone.
Unresponsive design can arise multiple problems such as incorrect font sizes, unclickable buttons, etc. Not everyone is like us who can create highly responsive designs. But there is an alternative for the developers and designers to manage responsive web design. They can generate URLs that automatically recognize (through HTML tags) the device type. After detecting the device, content can be displayed optimally:
A few examples of generated URLs are
- www.website.com (desktop access)
- m.website.com (mobile access)
- www.website.com (lighter version with basic HTML) (feature phone access)
8. Use “viewport Meta Tag” To Fit Pages To Mobile Screens
According to Google, “a viewport can control the way homepage will display on mobile devices.” In other words, if designers don’t take the viewport into account, the UI on a mobile device will appear just like the desktop site. The system will adapt the screen for mobile use in this scenario, but it does not generally work. In some cases, the images will get distort and create a poor user experience. After applying viewport, designers can control the display mode and improves the UX.
How To Take The Viewport Into Account?
You can use a CSS tag called “viewport meta tag,” which is included in the CSS Device Adaptation specification.
This tag has the following syntax:
<meta name = “viewport” content = “width = device-width, initial-scale =1”>
9. While Initiating Mobile Design, Determine The Website “Core.”
While creating the mobile site designs, the designers should ensure that the site’s main features are presented clearly. In short, mobile websites should allow complete functionality because the CTA is obvious on any website designed for mobile devices.
But how to determine the other features to include? Think about the core of your website. What are the main pillars of the website? Which are the main features of the website? Which features are minor but improve UX (such as search, filters, etc.)?
Let’s go through an example of applying the core concept to a food delivery e-commerce site. The main pillars of this site would be:
- Login and Sign Up
- Product Search
- Product Listing
- Add To Cart
A desktop site has more features, but you can filter the necessary ones and include them in the mobile site. It also eliminates the possibility that the users will feel overwhelmed by too many options on a small screen.
10. Use Simple Forms & Input Fields
There is a form that the user can fill on many sites to contact the support team or get newsletters and other purposes. Mobile users can find these forms a huge problem if they are not properly designed. The longer and complex the form, the more difficult it is for the users to input information.
How To Optimize The Form For Mobile Devices?
- Include only the essential fields mandatory for the users to input. If there are too many mandatory fields, the user is more likely to abandon the registration process.
- Don’t split fields into too many fields. E.g., first name/last name can be considered into a simple name.
- Make sure that the numeric keyboard is automatically activated for the numeric fields such as Contact no. , zip code, etc.
- Make error messages concise.
- Try to include automation in the fields. E.g., while asking for the user’s address, leverage the GPS functionality and pre-fill the fields such as Pin code, state, city, etc.
Applying these basic concepts will improve the UX of your mobile site. These applications will limit the chance of users abandoning the form or your site.
In the first phase of this series, we have gone through 10 guidelines for improving the mobile site UX of your e-commerce store. At Emizentech, the best eCommerce development company in India, we have expertise in developing highly responsive e-commerce stores. Let us know your requirements.