How do you optimise your ecommerce sites for mobile & tablet devices?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Simply put, if your ecommerce site isn’t already optimized for mobile then there is a 50% chance that your competitors are already a step ahead of you.  Up to 55% of companies are operating mobile optimised sites, so if you are in the other 45% than there is a chance that your competitors could be racing ahead in mobile & tablet sales.

So how do you go about catching up with the rest of the crowd and putting yourself on an equal footing with your ecommerce competitors?

Firstly, you must evaluate your website itself.  Unless your website is responsive, a dedicated mobile website, or you offer a mobile app for your ecommerce customers then you will never be able to provide a completely optimized mobile experience for your customers.

Why is this?

Screen Sizes and Resolution – Non-mobile friendly websites are designed to be viewed on a screen that can be over 10 times the size of a smartphone screen.  On a desktop, this means you can offer a lot more visual content and text. Minimizing a non-mobile friendly website onto a much smaller screen makes the content  difficult to read and navigate. This also applies to image use.  As the site adapts to fit into a smaller screen size, the image resolution and sizes will also become unsuitable and look awkward on the screen.

Mobile SEO – Non-mobile friendly sites will struggle to rank as highly as mobile friendly sites in Google searches on smartphones and tablets.  This is due to Google wanting to offer their users the best user experience possible.  A statement from Google’s Yoshikiyo Kato and Pierre Far highlighted this point in 2013: “To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.

User Experience – As I previously mentioned, when a website that is unfriendly to mobile tries to fit into a smaller screen the features become distorted and difficult to navigate.  We’ve all come across a website on our mobiles that requires a certain amount of pinching and scrolling before we get to see any useful content. This ruins the user experience for the visitor and makes it difficult for them to find useful information, drastically reducing the likelihood of them revisiting the site.

Laptop, Tablet and Mobile Phone

So how do you make your ecommerce site mobile friendly?

When it comes to having a ‘mobile friendly website’ there are three approaches to the build and structure of your website that will suit your needs.

  • Responsive Website
  • Dedicated Mobile Websites
  • Mobile Apps

So what do these options mean?

Responsive Websites

The aim of the responsive website is to provide an optimal viewing experience no matter what screen size they are using.  A responsive website will automatically reshuffle content to fit whatever screen size it is being viewed from, maintaining a high level of user interactivity and allowing for easier navigation.

A responsive website usually operates through fluid, proportion-based grids that shit to adapt to whatever screen space they have.  Due to this, it is incredibly difficult to convert an existing website to a responsive design.

Responsive web builds is probably the most cost effective route to develop a mobile friendly site if you’re looking for a rebuild or have yet to build a website at all.  It saves you the cost of building a non-mobile friendly website and a specialist mobile one, or developing an app to run alongside your existing site.

A simple way to see if a website is responsive is by resizing it and seeing if the content rearranges itself to fit.

Dedicated Mobile Websites

If you already have a website that isn’t mobile friendly or you’re not really looking to rebuild then a dedicated mobile site could be your way forward.  Investing in a mobile site will provide you with a second domain that is specifically tailored towards mobile visitors.  This achieved by adding a suffix or prefix to your existing domain and redirecting visitors to the mobile friendly version of your site whenever they hit your original domain from a mobile or tablet.

This would stand separately from your existing website, meaning that no changes or alterations have to be made to your original site.  This is useful for regular visitors as it maintains the appearance and interactivity of your existing site without the necessity of resizing and scrolling.

Mobile Apps

Choosing a Mobile App takes you down a whole new approach towards mobile friendly usability. A mobile app will be the most expensive option you can choose but will provide you with greater control over the ecommerce experience you offer your customer.  It provides you with the option to access specific on-board functionality available on that device, greater ability to offer and optimised experience and offline access, allowing users to access the app when they aren’t connected to the net.

All of these mobile options have their benefits, but if you are an ecommerce website owner, it is critical that you ensure that your site is built around one of these platforms.  As mobile sales continue to grow exponentially year on year, it is simply not an option to ignore the experience that you offer your mobile customers.


If you have any more questions or would like to know more about responsive website builds don’t hesitate to get in contact.