The number of mobile phone users is expected to reach 4.77 billion next year—well over half the world’s population. E-commerce must adapt to this flood of new visitors by redesigning their sites to accommodate mobile devices and smaller screens. Two common approaches are to create a separate mobile site or a responsive design.
What is a Responsive Site?
Responsive web design involves creating a site where the content is served in different ways depending on the device that requests it. For instance, if a smart phone is detected, it invokes a media query to determine screen size, and based on the screen size, calls the appropriate CSS (cascading style sheet) to reorganize the site’s graphics and text. Specialists point out that most responsive designs don’t eliminate content, but simply hide it, so that load times are needlessly slowed.
Responsive Site VS Mobile Site
A mobile site involves creating separate sites or pages specifically designed for smaller devices; when a mobile device is identified, the user is simply redirected to the mobile version. While this is in some ways simpler, and may allow faster response times, it also requires the time and resources of maintaining two essentially different websites. Videos, images, and banners that work well on traditional sites will be unsuitable for mobile users.
It may not be necessary to re-design every page. Choosing the appropriate strategy really depends on how visitors use your site. Employing site analytics on pages visited, click-throughs, and other metrics to identify which links and pages mobile users are more likely to use may help retain those visitors and improve conversion rates. More people are gravitating toward web applications, and a person who has earned an online master’s degere in computer science likely knows how to consistently bring new innovation and functionality to mobile apps.
E-commerce designed for mobile sites is now becoming known as m-commerce. Features like product catalogs and shopping carts must be redesigned to serve mobile users as well. Mobile users are also more likely to be “on the go” and less patient, so checkout processes need to reflect this. There may also be additional mobile payment apps that need integration to accommodate more of these users.
Expanding sales strongly suggest that mobile consumers are the new norm, not a trend. Redesigning sites to allow the best possible experience for mobile shoppers isn’t about marketing to mobile users, it’s about converting them to purchasers, and only a satisfactory customer experience will accomplish that.