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Principles of Mobile Site Design

In a quest to establish mobile site design best practices, Google recently partnered with AnswerLab in the U.S. to research how a range of users interacted with a diverse group of mobile sites. Consumers increasingly rely on the mobile web to research and make purchases, which makes it more important than ever for companies to have an effective mobile presence. So this article should be of interest to any business that realises the increasing importance of having a good ‘mobile-friendly’ website.

From this new research, Google has established 25 principles of mobile site design to help companies build mobile sites that meet customers’ requirements and drive conversions. For this article we’ve selected a few of the best practices, but we can also email the full list on request – please contact us for a PDF copy of the report.

For each site that was included in the research, AnswerLab asked the participants to complete a conversion-focused task, like making a purchase, booking a reservation or researching plans/prices. The participants then rated their experience with each site and also the researchers provided ratings based on site experience and task success and logged errors/site issues by severity.

The key findings were:

  • Mobile users tend to be very goal-oriented – they expect to be able to get what they need from a mobile site easily, immediately, and on their own terms. So, to ensure success, design the site with their context and needs in mind, without sacrificing richness of content.
  • Place prominent calls-to-action – it can be easy for mobile users to miss menu items, so always put your key calls-to-action where you know users will see them. Study participants had the easiest time completing tasks on sites that clearly displayed primary calls-to-action in the main body of the site.
  • Keep menus short and sweet – mobile users don’t have the patience to scroll through a long list of options to try and find what they want. So create a shorter menu with distinct categories.
  • Make navigation clear and simple – easier navigation encourages users to explore the site and ultimately convert. Also use the business logo as a navigation button to return to the homepage, as mobile users expect that.
  • Include a site search box – being able to search a site is vital for helping mobile users find what they’re looking for, quickly. Place your site search near the top of your homepage via an open text field.
  • Use click-to-call buttons – mobile users expect this nowadays. Offering a prominent click-to-call button can help to prevent them from leaving the site without purchasing if they feel the business isn’t easy to contact. It also provides the option to buy over the phone rather than online.
  • Encourage conversions – allow users to navigate the site without first having to register and also, to purchase as a guest.
  • Streamline form entry – most users, whether mobile or not don’t like filling in forms. So whether it’s for making a purchase, getting a quote or joining an email or newsletter list, the user’s conversion experience should be as seamless as possible. This can be achieved through design that produces efficient, clear and concise forms.
  • Optimise the entire site for mobile – unsurprisingly, participants had a much easier time navigating mobile-optimised sites than trying to navigate desktop sites on mobile devices. Sites that included a mix of desktop and mobile-optimised pages were actually harder to use than all-desktop sites.

Of course, great design is only part of a mobile site’s success and it’s just as important to get the technical side right as well. Remember to test the site in multiple browsers and devices, to ensure maximum performance. Following these well researched guidelines can help to improve the mobile conversion rate for any business that realises how increasingly important it has become to have a user-friendly mobile site.

If you would like to receive the full PDF report on this research, or to discuss any of the above recommendations, please contact us now.