Google knows that Website design can make a huge difference in whether mobile customers will make a purchase on a company's site or if they go somewhere else to buy. Now, Google aims to remind business leaders just how important those subtle site design factors can be for their Websites and their companies' bottom lines.
To ensure that customers stick around and click to purchase what they are seeking from mobile Websites, companies must ensure that their mobile sites make transactions and shopping easier for customers, rather than pushing them away, Jenny Gove, a user experience researcher at Google, wrote in an April 24 post on the Google AdWords Blog.
"Mobile empowers consumers to connect with your business at any time and from anywhere," wrote Gove. "But are you ready to be there for them in the moments that matter? To truly meet the needs of your customers, your mobile site experience should allow them to quickly and easily find what they're looking for without sacrificing richness of content."
A recent study by AnswerLab, in partnership with Google, looked at how more than 100 mobile users completed purchases on a diverse group of Websites, she wrote. "From this research, we developed 25 principles of mobile site design to help you develop a mobile site that both delights your customers and drives conversions."
Among the key findings of the study are that mobile buyers want to search shopping sites for what they are seeking at that moment and don't want to be mired down in information that's unrelated to their search terms, wrote Gove. "Study participants with a specific need, especially those visiting retail sites, turned to site search to find what they were looking for," she wrote. "Participants were quick to abandon sites that returned irrelevant search results or a large set of results that they were unable to narrow."
To help customers with this, business Websites must ensure that site search is "visible on the home page via an open text field, returns relevant results, and is equipped with advanced features, like auto-complete and filters, to get users what they want quickly."
Another key to help convert mobile shoppers into mobile buyers is to keep them using the site's mobile version, so that they can better display the site on their devices, wrote Gove. Businesses often make the mistake of placing a button for their full Websites on the mobile site page so that customers can look at the full site. The problem with that, she wrote, is that it can distract and ultimately turn away a pending purchase.
"If presented a choice, study participants would often tap on the link to visit the 'full site' due to a perception that they'd be missing out on something by staying on the mobile site," wrote Gove. "Choosing the 'mobile site' implied to them that they were not getting the 'full' experience, when in reality, the mobile site offered most, if not all, of the functionality in an easier-to-view format."
At the same time, businesses should be sure that their Websites don't offer a mix of mobile-optimized and desktop-optimized pages on their sites, wrote Gove. "Unsurprisingly, it was easier for participants to navigate mobile-optimized sites on their mobile devices than desktop sites on their mobile devices," she wrote. "However, sites that included a mix of desktop and mobile-optimized pages were actually harder for participants to use than sites with all-desktop pages."
That means that businesses should optimize their entire sites for mobile users, so they can improve user experience and purchase completion rates, she wrote.
Google is often providing help and advice to businesses and developers about how they can drive sales and use of their apps and Websites. In December 2013, Google offered a developer checklist for building better mobile sites that are optimized to work well on mobile devices.