With the rapid growth in mobile technologies it is becoming increasingly important when designing a new ecommerce site to cater for the unique requirements that this new portal to the internet commands.
Both usability and user engagement in mobile ecommerce design have a different criteria than when designing for desktop customers. Mobile users usually have limited time and are browsing in an environment full of distractions, therefore all information displayed on the mobile version of an ecommerce site needs to be relevant, bold and incredibly easy to navigate in as few clicks as possible. Likewise, there are both constraints and advantages to the mobile technology itself. Although the designer needs to take into account the limited screen real-estate when deciding the important areas to display on the page, they can also make full use of the technologies touch screen functionality to make an experience that’s as dynamic and engaging as possible.
Back to Basics
The main decisions to make when designing a mobile ecommerce site are the key areas that need to be included. On a mobile platform the designer needs to take into account that the user will scan information rather than digest each and every word. The key information here is naturally your navigation, search, cart, login links and product information. Call to actions need to be simple, clear and play to the mobile technologies limited screen size. When addressing the limited screen size issue it is also a good idea to use touch interactivity to place the main navigation within a large browser fixed slide down ‘categories’ panel. By using a clear, large button with a highlight colour here it will be very easy for the mobile user to dive straight into navigating the site, even with just a brief glance at the page.
The size of user interactive elements is another area that should also be addressed. Remember that rather than the precision of a mouse, the customer will have much fatter fingers and thumbs when navigating the site, therefore all sizes needed to be adjusted accordingly. There is nothing more annoying than clicking all the wrong buttons on a poorly designed mobile website and it can ruin customer experience, don’t just increase the size of your interactive elements but include extra white space between each item.
This finger interactivity brings about it extra challenges for the designer, rather than creating rollover elements, the finger needs to execute the same action on its first touch instead. Therefore due to this extra need for input, all drop down menus should ideally be kept as simple and shallow as possible, simplify your categories where possible.
It’s Not All About Simplification
Although the key to mobile ecommerce site design is keeping it simple, there are also exciting opportunities to really innovate with an optimised site. Make use of swipe functionality wherever possible as this is a method of interactivity that all mobile users expect. This could for example be used wherever there are featured product panels or perhaps on a product image zoomer.
Remember also that as the user will be more than likely viewing on a phone to make the phone number prominent at all times. This way, by simply clicking on the contact number it will bring up the option to call the store direct. Likewise make use of the rest of the phones functionality where possible. For example, you could use GPS to help the customer find their nearest store when out and about or utilise the phones camera to add augmented reality features or QR scanning. It’s little touches of innovation like this that will really help engage the customer and help stand out amongst other mobile ecommerce sites.
Whilst it’s very easy to overlook the importance of mobile site design when approaching a new desktop ecommerce site it is actually often of benefit to start by thinking about the mobile site first as this really helps to focus on the key areas that are most important to your customers and streamline the user experience, even within the full desktop site. A good designer should also work within the parameters of mobile technology and usability but never forget that they can also push this new technology to offer exciting new opportunities and interactivity to the customer that have not previously been available on traditional desktop sites.