A recent study into mobile site design and usability conducted by Google and AnswerLab delved deep into what makes mobile sites work. The 42 page report produced as a result of the study makes for extremely insightful yet lengthy reading.
To save you time sifting through all 25 recommendations, we have rounded up seven takeaways that will set you well on your way to effective mobile site design.
The Principles of Mobile Site Design: Delight Users and Drive Conversions is definitely worth reading when you’ve got more time. Inside, you’ll find the mobile site design principles categorised into five sections:
- Homepage & Site Navigation
- Site Search
- Commerce & Conversions
- Form Entry
- Usability & Form Factor
Within each one there are insights from the study, a key takeaway regarding mobile site design and even an illustrated example of a best-in-class site.
Mobile: Fast, On The Move and Wanting It Now
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you can’t fail to have noticed the speed at which smartphones have integrated into our daily lives. And, that means the daily lives of your prospects and customers too.
Modern day customers expect to have information on demand, in their hand and when they want it. Mobile phones are increasingly relied upon to provide research and discovery which means it’s now more important than ever that companies have an effective mobile presence and mobile site design that works.
Decisions are now made in what Google calls micro-moments, which has, for the large part, been driven by the rise in mobile. In a blog post which explores this new marketing phenomenon, Google opens with this description:
Micro-moments are defined as:
“I want-to-know moments, I want-to-go moments, I want-to-do-moments and I want-to-buy moments.”
It’s clear that mobile is having a massive influence on consumer behaviour and that to maximise success, businesses of all sizes need mobile site design that delivers an outstanding user experience.
Do take the time to read the full report.
For now though, here’s seven key considerations to ensure your mobile site design is on the right track.
7 Mobile Site Design Principles For Outstanding User Experience
1. Put your calls-to-action (CTA’s) front & centre
Mobile sites are, by the nature of their viewing device, visually smaller. So it can be easy for users to miss menu items. Make sure your primary calls-to-action are on the main body of the site where your users will easily see them, such as above the fold. Put your primary calls-to-action in your site’s most prominent space.
Secondary calls-to-action can be placed within menus or below the fold.
Remember: mobile site users end-goals may be different to your desktop users and so, therefore, may your CTA’s. Always think about what your user is trying to achieve when determining CTA placement.
2. Keep your menus short & sweet
Extensive menus don’t work well on mobile sites. Make sure your menu is shorter with more clearly defined and distinct categories, that make it easier for users to navigate.
Remember: Mobile users demand fast answers to their queries and therefore won’t have the patience to scroll through a long list of options to find what they want. Effective mobile site design might therefore mean having different menus from your desktop site. That’s OK.
3. Take me home (James): make it EASY for users to get back to your homepage
The simplest way? Use your logo at the top of the page as a navigation button to return to the homepage.
Remember: Mobile users want an easy way to get back to the homepage. The study showed they expected to be able to tap the logo to be able to do so and became frustrated when it didn’t work.
4. Don’t let promotions steal the show
Make sure promotions don’t interfere with the navigation and make it hard for users to complete tasks.
Remember: Promotions and ads can overshadow the content they are next to. They can be distracting and cause navigational buttons to be missed, making it harder for your visitors to learn about your business offering. Make sure they are distinct from CTA’s.
5. Make site search visible
Place your site search near the top of your homepage in an open text field. Users looking for specific information usually turn to search, so search should be one of the first things they see on your site.
Remember: In keeping with the micro-moments theory, mobile users are in a “want-to” state of mind and are therefore seeking specific information that is easily accessed.
6. Register or leave now is not OK. Let users explore before they commit
Allow your visitors to use your site without having to register for an account.
No one likes to be dictated to. So, why would your website visitors? Demands to submit personal details, such as email addresses, in order to continue creates frustration amongst users and can be detrimental to conversion.
Remember: Placing registration gates too early in a site experience can really put people off, especially if a brand is unfamiliar to a user. Let your visitors browse content and get a sense of what your site is offering them for more effective mobile site design.
7. Speed matters – consider Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Technical aspects related to page load times were mentioned in the report although Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) were not. In a blog about mobile sites, we felt we had to touch on this.
Launched in May 2016, AMP is a project between Google and Twitter to essentially make really really fast loading mobile pages. It does this by using a stripped down, optimised version of HTML code (the language websites are built in). Pages load faster because things within the HTML code that would normally slow down page load times are removed. It’s ideal for pages where there is a lot of content, like blog and ecommerce pages.
We’ve blogged before about the effect of site speed on a website’s performance. With mobile, where attention span is reduced and companies have to work harder to hold it, speed is even more important.
Site speed and conversions are strongly correlated. Faster loading mobile pages improve user experience. When users go to find content, they want to be able to access it fast. If you page is taking too long to show the information the user is likely to move away from your site.
No one likes a half baked biscuit and no one likes a half loaded web page!
Good user experience makes visitors more likely to stay longer, visit more pages, sign up, or complete another conversion goal.
What’s more, when people stick around on your site it improves your bounce rate.
This, coupled with people visiting more pages, tells Google that the visitor is finding value in your site, which they interpret as a good user experience.
Google loves user experience signals.
When bounce rate is reduced and user experience increased, Google rewards sites with a rankings boost.
AMP pages often rank higher in the mobile search results because of this. If your AMP page gets boosted in the organic listings, it also represents an opportunity for increased mobile search visibility since they are distinguished from standard listings.
And, a higher and more prominent position in search results means more visitors and more customers.
Remember: making your mobile site as streamlined, technically optimised and fast as possible is important for your overall conversions.
The report confirms the current thinking about mobile user behaviour: that mobile users tend to be very goal-oriented and expect to be able to get the information they need and want easily, immediately, and on their own terms. For businesses to succeed in meeting these needs, mobile site design needs to be effective in addressing the mobile-savvy consumer’s behaviour and motivations. When designing your mobile site, whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a website design agency, always think about the context of a user’s search and bear their needs in mind without sacrificing richness of content.
Does your business’ mobile site design excite and engage your customers or leave a little to be desired?
If you need some help, we can help.
As one of the leading digital marketing agencies in Birmingham specialising in digital marketing for SME’s (that works!), we can help you with your website design. For 21 years, companies across the West Midlands have used us to help grow their businesses with our effective digital marketing toolbox. We guarantee if you speak to us your business will benefit one way or another. What have you got to lose?
What’s more, we can help some businesses get access to EU funding that could double their marketing budget to help them sell more online (subject to status & grant rules).
You might also like to read our previous blog on three ways to boost your digital marketing using Google’s new technology.