Mobile internet users dominate the online landscape. Furthermore, the proliferation of devices such as smartphones and tablets suggests that the trend toward mobile will continue. As a result of the trend toward mobile, businesses have learned to convert their “mobile-friendly” website strategies to “mobile first” strategies. Statistics alone can compel you to pursue a mobile-first web design.
Smartphone ownership has surpassed 70 percent of the U.S. population. More than 90 percent of that group uses their smartphone to discover localized information. Also, almost 80 percent of smartphone users shop using their device and more than four-fifths of smartphone users depend on their phone to find restaurants as they travel.
Recognizing the explosive growth of the mobile online marketplace, businesses have already made appealing to mobile users a top marketing trend in 2017. To stay relevant now and in the future, you also should create a strategy that seeks to attract and convert the new generation of mobile shoppers.
In the past, having a desktop-oriented online store was good enough to attract a steady stream of customers. As the mobile internet grew, developers used responsiveness and other design tactics to make desktop sites work better on small devices. Such expedient approaches worked but often produced unpredictable results. Website owners seemed to consider the risks as acceptable, knowing that their desktop site accommodated the majority of users.
Now that mobile users have become prevalent in the online space, a new mobile first approach to e-commerce has become necessary. “Mobile first” allows you to escape the pitfalls associated with adapting desktop sites to mobile devices. By designing primarily for mobile users, developers can ensure that buttons, text, images, scroll bars and other screen elements always properly appear on user screens. Also, programmers who design for mobile first can create a clean, minimal space that is highly functional, yet free of the fancy features that desktop browsers make possible.
Why mobile search responsive design is different
Responsive designs emerged to give businesses a simple way to supply a mobile website based on a desktop presence. Such a tactic improved the usability of websites for mobile users, but the practice was more of an afterthought or Band-Aid to address what was then a minority of online users.
Now that mobile users dominate the internet in terms of traffic and online sales, companies must design a mobile first website and then worry about their desktop users as an afterthought. Responsive designs are still possible, but they must emphasize the mobile site as the primary space and then responsively fill out desktop browsers as a secondary goal.
What is a mobile first approach?
A mobile first approach creates websites that are made to look good and function well on mobile phones and tablets, without regard to their appearance on the desktop. A mobile first design acknowledges that mobile users must be accommodated by giving them functional screens that are absent of clutter and have easy-to-tap buttons, scrollbars, and other features. The mobile first design approach makes interacting with a brand and shopping at its store easy and fun, without the frustrations that come with adapted desktop sites that were made for a mouse, not a touchscreen.
What is a responsive web design?
A responsive web design detects the platform on which it is being loaded and automatically adjusts screen elements to fit. In the past, a responsive design began with a desktop website that was optimized for computers and laptops. When smartphone users load such a site, the code behind the site attempts to optimize screen elements to look good on the small screen.
Mobile first responsive design takes the opposite approach. Rather than squishing a desktop site onto a mobile screen, mobile first responsive design begins with a mobile design that is built to optimize the mobile user experience. When a desktop browser loads a mobile first responsive design, the site will attempt to create the best possible display for screen elements. Additional information might also appear in the desktop version.
What is the use of Bootstrap CSS?
Web developers such as the Bruce Tyson team use Bootstrap CSS while designing for mobile first. The Bootstrap framework speeds development and includes HTML and mobile first CSS templates as well as screen elements such as buttons, carousels, tables and navigation tools.
What does a mobile first strategy involve?
A mobile first strategy requires a new mindset. Developers who have spent decades creating websites that look great in desktop browsers must now design a fantastic user experience using fewer bells and whistles and a new design philosophy. Web sites and stores must quickly load on mobile devices and interfaces that users can easily tap and scroll.
Mobile-first requires that you provide a substantially different user interface to accommodate smartphones and tablets. After all, the way users interact with a smartphone differs from how they use a desktop or laptop computer. Such a behavioral shift has made mobile-first a concern for web developers who have for decades developed websites for traditional web browsers.
Designing from the ground up for mobile users requires a new paradigm that calls for new workflows and the effective use of limited screen real estate. Your mobile e-commerce site must quickly load on mobile devices and have visual appeal, readable text, optimized images and accessible navigation tools to become successful. After you create an excellent mobile experience, you and your development team can worry about how your e-commerce store works for desktop users.
A report published by GfK shows that as many as 40-percent of shoppers use multiple devices as they shop. Such information reveals the necessity for your firm to provide a consistent experience while making it easy to begin shopping on a mobile device and to finish shopping while using a desktop computer. Similarly, the transition from desktop to mobile shopping must be seamless, without requiring users to have to re-learn the interface.
Also, customer information, such as recently viewed pages, wish lists, shopping cart contents and payment information should move with users as they change from one device to another. When people can leave one device and use another device to pick up where they left off, you can learn about user behavior, including drop offs, that help you refine the customer experience that you provide.
Your mobile-first e-commerce store should emphasize usability from small screens. Some essential characteristics of your site include those that are listed below.
* Simplicity – A minimalistic approach to web design is necessary to create pages that work well for mobile users. To have buttons designed for fingers, optimized images and clear text, your store must eliminate the clutter that characterizes many desktop sites.
* Task orientation – Every screen should have a particular function to create an orderly and logical flow.
* Easy payments – Your mobile e-commerce site must have a simple and secure checkout and payment process that is designed for finger taps rather than for mouse clicks.
* Handoffs – About 40 percent of users begin shopping on one device and then move to another device before checking out. Your site must have the ability to retain customer data, including their location within the store, to deliver a seamless user experience.
* Omnichannel. Your brand should have a consistent look and feel regardless of the channel through which shoppers choose to engage, including in-person, telephone, desktop and mobile.
Evaluating your design
Users arriving at your mobile e-commerce store should be able to quickly begin to shop. You should minimize screen clutter while providing clear calls to action on every page. Knowing that typing on a smartphone screen is difficult, you should minimize the amount of data entry your store requires. For that reason, you also should make sure that your registration, subscription and “contact us” forms are as short and simple as possible.
Testing your site
Statistics continue to reveal that the conversion rate for most mobile sites continues to lag. Such data should motivate you to test your site and optimize it to make it for mobile users. Fortunately, website owners and developers have tools available from mobile first Google that can verify key parameters such as site speed.
When you use the Google Site Speed tool, Google will give your site a score and supply you with a list of changes that you can make to improve performance. The information that you get from Google will help you create a fast and useful site that can give lists a seamless “browse-to-buy” experience that minimizes abandoned shopping carts and lost sales.
A new generation mobile-only internet users means that companies must have a mobile-first strategy to stay competitive. By designing your e-commerce site for mobile, you give your customers an e-commerce site that provides a consistent and simple platform for shopping from smartphones and other devices. Your mobile-first strategy can also improve the visibility of your website in Google search results and lay a solid foundation for your long-term success.
Bruce Tyson and his team have experience creating winning mobile-first website designs for retail and B2B firms. Contact us today to discuss your needs and receive a free quote for services.
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