4 Guiding Principles in Mobile eCommerce Design

Monica Orrigo
March 2, 2016

Manufacturers and wholesale distributors looking to offer mobile eCommerce to B2B and/or B2C customers have a number of options. Some companies do mobile eCommerce design themselves, others hire it out, and others choose to deploy a ready-made mobile eCommerce solution. Regardless of the method you use to build your mobile eCommerce site, there are certain best practices that will help you succeed:

Mobile eCommerce Design: 4 Guiding Principles

1. Get to know mobile users.

A successful eCommerce site, whether on mobile or not, requires a clear understanding of the user. Some questions you will need to answer include: Who are your target mobile customers? How are they most likely to use the mobile eCommerce site? How will you determine if the site is successful? What metrics will you be measuring? Getting answers to these questions will likely require you to do some research. Start with your current website. You probably already have users accessing your site via mobile, even if the design of your site is less than mobile-friendly. If your site uses Google Analytics, you can easily gather information on these users. What pages do they visit, and what do they do on those pages? Looking at your mobile user data over a period of time, are there any changes or trends that you are able to identify? If you’re not using Analytics, or you simply need more information to make sense of your current site data, there is a great deal of market research available that will tell you what kinds of devices are most likely to be used, and how they are used, as well as analysis of current trends and forecasting. Google’s Mobile Planet is a great place to start.

2. Think small.

Mobile devices are small and portable, and you must plan your mobile eCommerce experience around this fact. Sites that work well on a desktop can sometimes become completely impossible to read on a mobile device when images or text need to be “pinched” down to fit on the screen. Whether you’re implementing a B2B or B2C mobile eCommerce site, you need to convey information in a mobile-friendly way. If you decide to go with the simple, cost-effective route of investing in an out-of-the-box mobile eCommerce solution, ensure that you’re looking at “mobile-first” solutions that were designed specifically with mobile users in mind. Otherwise, you’ll need to find developers who specialize in mobile.

3. Make it easy to take action.

Make it as easy as possible for users to take action on your site. Pricing information and calls to action should be clear and visible, and buttons and navigational elements should be easily tapped. Researchers have known for years that there is a trade-off between speed and accuracy when targets become smaller and as more information is squeezed into a smaller space. This trade-off is known as Fitts’ Law, which was initially put forth back in the 1950s. Fitts’ Law tells us that navigational elements should not be too far apart (i.e., if you want to go to another page, you shouldn’t have to go all the way to the top menu to do so, but it should be able to be easily accessed from anywhere on the page), and call to action buttons should be sized to make it easy for mobile users to read and click them.

4. Less is more.

Copywriting is another major challenge for mobile eCommerce. Space is always at a premium for good web design and content development, but never more so than when you’re targeting mobile users. The word mobile itself tells you one very important fact about mobile users, which is that they are on the move when accessing your site. This means that they’re going to want the most important information, delivered simply and engagingly. In short, keep the meat, but cut the fat. There are many best practices to consider as you think about how to implement your mobile eCommerce site, but these simple principles can help guide you, whether you’re facing the extreme challenges of custom development, or you’re vetting existing mobile eCommerce solutions. Questions about mobile eCommerce or existing solutions that can help you implement your mobile eCommerce platform sooner rather than later? Let us know in the comments!