The Role of Responsive Web Design for E-Commerce Websites

“Awww, so pretty earrings!! Aww, with 30% discount?! I want them! Where is the Add to cart button? Scroll down, scroll down, scroll left, zoom in, zoom in, scroll up, scroll right, zoom out… I just saw it. Where did it disappear?”

Have you seen such websites? That woman must have very strong will to finish the purchase without going insane. And what if she wants two different pairs of earrings? If your website is not optimized for mobile devices she will most probably hate you by the end of the payment.

“Read me if you can. Buy me if you can.” Can you read or navigate through this website? How do you see yourself clicking on the small numbers to check the next page unless it is really necessary?

Have you ever read feedback from clients using smartphones for online shopping? Have you ever taken a deep look into your Google Analytics? At which step visitors with mobile devices quit? Do you report dramatic difference in conversions between desktop and smartphone users? Maybe the reality is not that grey, but you might be surprised how important responsive design is if you are having an e-commerce website.

I am going to skip the “juicy” #Infographics and statistics about using smartphones, e-shopping, percentage of mobile VS desktop users and so on. If you need you will find them. But here I will show you some points that might help you to take the right decision whether to upgrade your out-of-date business website and make it mobile-optimized or not yet:

1) RWD, e-commerce plugins –

responsive web design adapts the layout to the viewing environment. Some Content Management Systems (CMS) do not support responsive design themes. This means that you might need entirely new website. Even CMS like WordPress might not have mobile optimized versions of some plugins for e-shopping/ e-commerce that you are currently using such as Shopping Cart Plugin that lets customers buy your products. PayPal Payments, shipping options, the “Share this” button for easily promoting your products on popular social network sites, and many more. Check well what you will lose and what you will win out of this.

2) Search Engine Friendly

Responsive web design improves SEO of your website.A good example of responsive web design – the website of Absolut vodka.

3) Read the facts carefully. Google Analytics or other measurement tools show you everything. Check the percentage of visitors that reach your website through mobile devices. Is it insignificant and raising with the time? Other powerful analytics that you should consider checking is the performance of your Google AdWords and Bing ads campaigns. It is still surprisingly high the number of companies that invest money and don’t pay attention to the conversions. An online store for girls jewelry might spend half of the money for online advertisement vainly if visitors click on the ads, but they leave quickly if the process of buying is too complicated. Sometimes the percentage of those visitors is over 40% of all the traffic. Easy calculations can tell you how much you spend for nothing. How can you turn those visits into sales? Start with optimizing your website.

In business with cars even websites of big brands are not mobile optimized. Maybe the logic is that potential clients most probably won’t buy a car online while having a coffee with friends. But for FMCG, jewelries and accessories it is essential to be mobile device friendly.

4) The alternatives.

An alternative strategy for the mobile users could be the creation of an app for online shopping. Apps give more potential for entertainment. They are specially designed for mobile devices and are user-friendly.  Purchasing and app can save you money and be a good replacement of making your website entirely optimized for mobile devices. Before getting all excited think what kind of app you will need and don’t forget that you will need different versions for each operational system – iPhone, Android, Windows Phone. You can have them all, respectively pay for them all.

5) Your budget.

Going out of business because of an old fashioned website is not an option. Even if you have limited budget the investment is worthy if facts tell you this. How much will it cost? Compare the production price with the higher conversion rates and higher ROI for online advertising campaigns and you will evaluate if it is an expense or an investment.

6) Comfort and satisfaction.

Mobile-friendly website means user-friendly website. Easy navigation, less annoyance. The experience of your clients while they are spending their time (and money) on your website is very important. Imagine that those are physical clients that you are inviting at your office. Will you welcome them and put them on comfortable chairs, offering tea or you will leave them at the entree wandering around the corridors? Remember the example from the top of the article. Women buy impulsively and if they are annoyed by your website then they most likely won’t visit it again. And what a better time to buy new earrings than while waiting for the bus?

How to make your e-commerce website mobile-optimized.

There is no universal formula or even if there is, I don’t know it. But how your website will look like? It all depends on how simple your design is. You might have to modify your website or redesign it entirely. Depends on what the platform that you are using allows you to do. There are some basic tips to help you build your idea for a responsive website from the scratch.
Position the columns in such way that suits your content. The mobile version shouldn’t necessarily replicate the desktop version. Actually it is almost impossible. So try to follow a logic that will make the user experience more comfortable. You can remove some functionalities and rows from the desktop version in order to make the mobile version user-friendly – with clear call to actions and easy navigation.
Draw how you imagine the arrangement of:
–    Header row or rows,
–    Logo,
–    Two, three, five or more columns with content,
–    Search row,
–    Image navigation, image descriptions,
–    Footer row.

If you are still not feeling convinced, test it! Try to see it through the eyes of a potential customer who is visiting your page for a very first time. All decisions in business are individual. That’s why some businesses are extremely successful and others are not ; )

The global website of Unilever – desktop and mobile version – find the differences. You can experience the long way of scrolling up, down, right and left if you want to check the website through your phone.

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