A Google Mobile Specialist Explains How To Get Your Mobile Site Right

Jonathan Marsh

Having a bad mobile site is the equivalent of flicking raisins at your customer’s face.

It’s arrogant, irritating and your Mum wouldn’t approve. Yet 96% of consumers say they’ve encountered websites that were clearly not designed for mobile. That’s a lot of raisins bouncing off a lot of faces. And a lot of missed sales. Over two-thirds of users say they are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site, so if that site’s not yours, you’re missing out.

What should you do to make sure you are getting mobile right? We did some testing with actual real people to work out what makes a good mobile site. And from that, we have come up with this list of 10 design principles. Follow these, and you will stop annoying your customers.

Put your heroes up front

Mobile is about getting things done. It can be easy for mobile users to miss menu items,
so put your key ‘calls to action’ where you know users will see them.

Don’t let promotions steal the show

People heading onto mobile sites often have a clear idea of what they want to do. Make sure promotions don’t get in the way.

Do not hide seek

Users looking for specific information often turn to your site’s search function and will leave the site quickly if they can’t find it – so search should be one of the first things mobile users see.

Get your filter on

There is not a lot of room on a phone. Too many results can frustrate users as much as none. Use filters to keep search results manageable.

Be kind to strangers

Being forced to register can make people abandon a purchase. This is especially true if your brand is unfamiliar.

Don’t play finickity to get

Offer the option of ‘click-to-call’ at points that require entry of complex or sensitive information. At some point, talking on the phone becomes a more attractive option. This is especially the case if, like insurance companies, you need a lot of information.

Don’t be mean, be multiscreen

People use their devices interchangeably and don’t always want to make the purchase on their mobile. You can help, for instance by giving people the chance to email themselves information to use later on another device.

Be helpful

People like it when sites automatically present number pads for entering values like postcodes or birth dates. They also like forms that automatically advance through fields as they enter information. Help them out.

Choose your words wisely

People don’t like picking between a “full site” vs “mobile site,” because they imagine the mobile site is inferior. Don’t sell your mobile site short. You can deftly avoid this problem by using “desktop site” instead of “full site”.

Tell me why I do like locations

Location can be a very useful signal. But people don’t like providing this information without knowing what it’s for. Be upfront as to what it will be used for. Leave location fields blank by default, and let people see the benefit, such as with a “Find Locations Near Me” button.

When people visit mobile sites, they are action-oriented. They want to get in and out as quickly as possible. This is different from a desktop experience, where people don’t mind being distracted.

Noone can afford to get mobile wrong. This starts with not annoying your customers. In other words, please stop flicking raisins.

Jonathan Marsh is a Mobile Specialist at Google Australia. He works with businesses to create better experiences for their customers on mobile devices. He has a particular focus on mobile measurement across online and offline platforms. He has worked for Google for eight years in the UK and Australia.

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