Mobile-friendly design and page speed are the fundamental components of a mobile-optimized website. However, these two elements by themselves don’t always add up to a perfectly optimized website. Despite this being an expectation of consumers today, many sites implementing responsive are still not truly optimized for the wants and needs of mobile users.
The raw technical implementation of a responsive layout isn’t enough to solve this problem. Instead, you must put yourself into the user’s shoes and take into account what people want to accomplish on a mobile phone, and how they will do so.
Google and AnswerLab conducted a research study to determine how users interact with a wide range of mobile sites (the study can be downloaded here). The goal of this report is to establish a set of best practices for mobile site design. The results of the study were distilled down into 25 mobile site design principles across five primary categories:
- Homepage & Site Navigation
- Site Search
- Commerce & Conversions
- Form Entry
- Usability & Form Factor
The key takeaway from the report was that mobile users are goal-oriented. They expect to be able to achieve their goal quickly and easily with a minimum hassle. No pinching to zoom. No confusing navigation or touch elements too close together to really use.
Success comes from focusing on the mobile experience. Give users what they need and on their own terms. Make it easy for them to achieve their goal.
It is also worth noting that, while these tools are useful, you can’t beat good old-fashioned user testing. Determine the goals a site user has while on your site, and then have multiple users within your demographic test across a range of devices. The insights you may achieve here are valuable and allow you to understand the real-world implications of how a user interacts with your site.
When it comes down to it, the essential elements to performing mobile optimization are a combination of tools and real user testing.
Here is a checklist for mobile optimization that we encourage you go through with your own website.
Basic mobile optimization
- Responsive design
- Page speed
- Hosting speed
Home page and site navigation
- Keep calls to action front and center.
- Keep menus short and sweet.
- Make it easy to get back to the home page.
- Don’t let promotions steal the show.
- Make site search visible.
- Ensure site search results are relevant.
- Implement filters to improve site search usability.
- Guide users to better search results.
Commerce and conversions
- Let users explore before they commit.
- Let users purchase as a guest.
- Use existing information to maximize convenience.
- Use click-to-call buttons for complex tasks.
- Make it easy to finish converting on another device.
- Streamline form entry.
- Choose the simplest input method for each task.
- Provide a visual calendar for selecting dates.
- Minimize form errors with labeling and real-time validation.
- Design efficient forms.
Usability and form factor
- Optimize your entire site for mobile.
- Don’t make users pinch to zoom.
- Make product images expandable.
- Tell users which screen orientation works best.
- Keep your user in a single browser window.
- Avoid “full site” labeling.
- Be clear why you need a user’s location.
We know this can seem like a lot, but your website should be the hub of your business. 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 optimized website.
Or, check out the following blogs focused on websites: