The Importance of Being Mobile

Written by Aisling Brock

It’s no secret that the world runs on mobile. We are constantly on the go, using mobile technology to organise every aspect of our lives, from finances to social interaction. Yet many online shops have not adapted to this change in our lifestyles, still focusing primarily on the desktop experience. 

The statistics speak for themselves. The Centre for Retail Research forecasts that the UK will account for 37% of all mobile e-commerce sales in Europe 2015 and that 28.6 of all online purchases in the UK will be made on mobile. This is something we've been seeing for a while now and the figures are even more convincing in our experience - one menswear client who launched an e-commerce website last year saw upwards of 30 of their substantial first day sales coming from mobile.   

Even the very big players aren’t getting it right - e-consultancy recently reported that amongst the top 50 high street retailers 20% don’t have a transactional mobile site and 44% don’t have a tablet optimised site. Pretty staggering.

At Message designing for mobile is integral to the sites we create partly through professional pride and a bit of vanity - we can't bear to see our well thought out UX and high quality designs presented badly on any medium - but mostly because we simply can't bring ourselves to supply a client with a site which doesn't work for all it's customer needs.  

So what are the design and UX basics you should have in mind when designing your e-commerce website?

Make space. Mobile sites need to fit in the palm of your customer’s hand. But they don’t need to feel restrictive. We recommend making the most of “off-canvas” navigation and baskets. Using now-ubiquitous icons such as the “hamburger menu” users can show and hide additional content and application controls as needed. 

Stay flexible. The ethos in desktop user experience is to allow the user to have control over their browser environment. This means that you can use browser-based features to control text sizes, image zooming and whether or not links open in a new tab or window, to name a few. Yet many mobile sites do not follow this same philosophy. At Message, we pride ourselves on being flexible, allowing users to continue to pinch zoom and rotate — allowing them to get up close and personal with your products, even on the small screen. 

High quality. A reduction in size shouldn’t mean a reduction in quality. In many cases it should mean the opposite. Mobile technology has long outstripped the average desktop or laptop computer in terms of razor sharp retina display. When your users are on the go (their attention spans ever fleeting), you need to grab their focus with crisp, clear and striking photography and interfaces. 

Mobile isn’t a nice to have any more, if it ever was. You should be considering mobile experience from the start and in every decision you make about your   e-commerce retail experience. The landscape is changing but you could be ignoring 30% of your business if you don’t.  It’s clear that making the best of your mobile user experience could not only give you an advantage in the marketplace but could translate into significantly increased sales. Ignore it at your peril. 

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