Make it really easy for mobile users to buy from you

One out of two people visiting your website are viewing it on a mobile phone or a tablet. Google Analytics tells me that 31% of the visitors to Dorset Social are using a phone and 17% a tablet. I have access to statistics for a number of other websites, including several retailers, and the stats are very similar across them all.

The message is clear - if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing half of your website visitors. When did you last take a look at how your website appeared when viewed on a smartphone?

There’s more to being mobile-friendly than passing the test

You may know that Google provides a website where you can test whether your website is mobile-friendly.

Click here to open the Google mobile-friendly test page.

But getting the green ‘Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly’ message does not mean the job is done. Passing this test is an important first step, but it’s really only a check on whether your site is built using mobile-friendly technology.

A pass is no guarantee that your website is actually easy for people to use when it’s viewed on a mobile phone. And it need to be easy if you’re going to keep their attention.

A site that’s hard to navigate around is one that loses people - which is not good if you’re trying to sell to them.

Shopping without signage is hard work

retail

Imagine walking into a shop to buy, say, an item of clothing. You know it’s the right shop because of the window displays. Once inside, you look for directions to the appropriate section, but all you see are signs telling you how great the clothes are.

There are loads of fabulous pictures showing people looking good in the clothes that the shop sells, but can you see clear directions to that part of the shop you want to find?

If you’re very keen to buy from that particular retailer, you persist with your search for a while. But it’s more likely that you’ll soon decide to go elsewhere - to a shop that’s better organised.

Someone coming to your website has that same experience. They’re probably looking for something specific. Can they find it quickly and easily?

Poor website design loses you customers, and poor design is more visible on a mobile phone.

Weak design isn’t just a problem for retailers. It’s a problem for any organisation looking to promote itself online.

How to make your website more mobile-friendly

The secret to the mobile-friendly website starts with you having a very clear idea of what you want people to do, and then making it really easy for them to do it. Say you want to sell a particular product. How are you going to bring customers to your website? It could be through:

  • Organic posts on social media
  • Online advertising
  • Email newsletter
  • Search engine

What page will you take people to when they click on the link in your post, ad or newsletter?

Too often I see businesses promote a specific product, but when someone’s interested and clicks on the link, they’re taken to the home page of the business website.

This is fine if the product is the headline item on that page and immediately visible on arrival, with no scrolling required.

But too often the promoted product isn’t the headline item. People are expected to scroll down to find it. As a result, some of those potential customers are already lost.

retail

Direct people to a landing page for your product

When you’re promoting a product, have people arrive on a page focused entirely on that item. And make the ‘buy now’ button immediately visible. Don't make people scroll down to find it, or at least, they shouldn't need to scroll very far.

online shoppingDon’t hide the route to ‘buy now’ behind a text link. Don’t assume that everyone knows that underlined and highlighted text is a clickable link, because believe me, they don’t. Big buttons are easy to spot, while links embedded in text aren't.

If you do put links in text, use words like ‘click here’ to make it really obvious to people where to click to get where they want to go.

Where possible, design your product landing page for mobile users first, then see how it looks on a desktop.

Beware of website menus. On a desktop, a menu can be neatly positioned across the top of the screen, but on a mobile it can almost fill the screen.

 

I’ve seen sites where a smartphone user clicks on a menu item but nothing seems to happen. They are, in fact, now viewing a different page, but the website design means all they can see is the menu and logo. Because the logo and menu appear on every page, there's nothing to tell the user that having chosen a menu item, they're now looking at a different page.

To see the new page content, they need to scroll down. Again, not everyone will bother to do that, meaning you’ve lost them.

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Please don’t assume that ‘everyone knows’ they need to scroll down, or that something is ‘easy to find’ on a webpage just because YOU know where it is. To a first time visitor, a page crammed with text and images is hard to navigate, making it easy for them to miss what they’re looking for.

Let’s rephrase that - making it easy for them to miss what you want them to find! A potential customer can go and buy elsewhere. It’s in your interest to make it really easy for them to buy from you.

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