Why Having A Mobile-First Website Is Critical To Your eCommerce Success

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Long gone are the days of physical keypads, downloading ringtones and playing Snake on your phone. Now, our smartphones are built to do so much more, supporting pretty much every aspect of our lives.

They’re intuitive and thanks to advances in Machine Learning, they’re learning more about us day-to-day. One thing we’re definitely doing more of on our phones is shopping. In fact, at the time of writing (Nov 2019) according to OuterBox, 79% of us have made a purchase using our smartphones in the past 6 months. Hands up if you’re one of them – I know I am! This growing trend is showing no sign of slowing down and is why you need to adopt a mobile-first approach to your eCommerce website design.

Mobile-first design is a Ronseal term – it does exactly what it says on the tin. Moving away from the more traditional/outdated desktop-first approach to website design, mobile-first means that the website is initially designed for mobile devices. From this, the design is scaled up to meet the requirements of other, larger devices and desktop.

Designers creating desktop-only sites need to adapt to growing consumer trends. 85% of people think a companies mobile website should be as good, or better, than the desktop site.

But, why use a mobile-first approach when it comes to eCommerce?

Mobile-first = customer-first

Customers play a fundamental part in all retail businesses – where would you be without them? Everything you do has to be customer-focused. They need to be considered at every step of your strategy including when it comes to designing your website. A mobile-first approach helps when it comes to converting shoppers, more people are shopping on mobile than ever before, so you need to cater to this growing segment of your customer base.

Benefits SEO with Google’s mobile-first indexing

Google announced this summer that they will be indexing all new websites mobile-first, this means that Google’s bots will consider the mobile sites and rank them before the desktop version. Designing mobile-first stands you in the best stead for better ranking on Google.

Helps prioritise your content and message

When designing for a smaller screen, you have to ask yourself, what is most important? You have to pick out and prioritise the content that will support your message and buyer journey in the simplest way considering not only the smaller area you have to deal with but also that mobile users tend to be more time-sensitive and want to make purchases and find information quickly. From here, building out your content for desktop is much easier, and you can begin to include more detailed content and further information. It’s a good lesson in what's waffle and what isn’t when starting with the stripped back version first.

Builds out into more aesthetically pleasing websites

Working mobile-first means dealing with less space. It gives you a solid foundation for scaling up to desktop, helping you focus on the most essential design and functionality elements.

Many desktop elements don’t translate well to mobile, such as flash, certain images, menu and navigation functions, which often get rearranged rather than redesigned for mobile, resulting in aesthetically poor and difficult to use websites.

By focusing on the key functional elements needed when designing mobile-first, it increases productivity by saving time on the design elements that often comes with desktop-first design – ie, more space to fill! This means designers who opt for this approach end up building more practical websites, honing in on the most important aspects, resulting in more aesthetically pleasing, clean designs that don’t overload the end-user.

Supports in-store, mobile browsing shoppers

In-store and mobile experiences are merging like never before as shoppers are using their smartphones to find information on products and pricing while browsing in physical stores. A study by Power Review has shown that 80% of consumers use their mobiles to search product reviews while shopping in-store. Not just this, but people are also sourcing information on pricing and comparing products on their phones in-store while making purchase decisions. By catering to these shoppers needs, you’ll make their experience smoother – and a good experience will help lead to them making their purchase with you.

Final thoughts

While mobile visits are on the rise for many eCommerce sites, conversion on the whole is not growing at the same speed. Poor experiences, checkout issues and navigation problems are among some of the common issues that are preventing users from completing purchases on mobile. Retailers not focusing on the importance of a mobile-first approach benefiting them are potentially missing out.

Increasingly, our ability to access the internet from wherever, whenever and on whatever device means that retailers need to adapt to this trend. Desktop is still important, but you need to make the changes now to appeal to the growing mobile customer base.

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