chapter 13

Be Accessible on Mobile Devices

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, the amount of people browsing the web on mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) is increasing at an incredibly fast rate. Unfortunately, many ecommerce websites and platforms were built with only the desktop browsing experience in mind, and if you're one of them, you can kiss a fair deal of new sales good-bye.

One way to gain an edge on your competition and be accessible by consumers on whatever device they decide to use is to make sure your current website is mobile friendly or create a separate mobile site. If your mobile presence is optimized well, you may pick up many more sales for simply being convenient to visitors and returning customers.

First, Check Your Current Ecommerce Site on Mobile Devices

You may be in luck and your current ecommerce store is already optimized for mobile web browsing. In order to be sure of this, make sure you check your site on the following devices:

  • Apple iPhone
  • Apple iPad
  • Various Android Smartphones – Android makes up approximately half of the smartphone market. However, the mix of different phones and operating system versions makes Android a very inconsistent browsing experience - so check thoroughly. 
  • Finally, try a couple different android tablets

And when we say check your site, we mean really go through every possible path. Do the following:

  • Conduct a multiple product purchase.
  • Conduct a multiple product purchase and test a coupon code.
  • Test your contact page. See if it sends out a message and check to see if you get it.
  • See how your product images zoom and pop out (if you have pop-out functionality installed).
  • And repeat all of these tests on different mobile browsers (Chrome, Safari and any default mobile browser that may come preinstalled on the device you’re testing).

How to Make a Mobile Site

If for whatever reason your current ecommerce site doesn’t work well with the mobile web, there are a couple routes you can take.

Rebuild Your Website with Responsive Design in Mind

Responsive design is simply web design that expands and contracts nicely for different devices, whether you view the websites on a desktop computer, smartphone or tablet. A good web developer can usually tweak your website code to make this happen. In some cases your site might be coded in such a way that responsive design isn’t really possible.

You’re also going to want to take a closer look at how your buttons, forms and other interactive elements work with your mobile users. In most cases if you optimize these elements for mobile users, it will work fine with desktops users as well.

This would also be a great time to simplify your checkout process to make it’s easier for both mobile and desktop users. Generally, making your checkout process painless results in more sales.

Redirect Your Mobile Visitors to a Subdomain

If you can’t build a “one-size fits all” responsive website, you can build another website structure that resides in a separate subdomain. For example if your website is hi-topheaven.com, you can make a mobile friendly website that resides in m.hi-topheaven.com. 

By inserting a simple redirect statement in the <head> of your home page, you can redirect anyone on a mobile device to your mobile websites.

The goal would not be to build a completely new website where you would have to reinsert all your copy and images. Instead you would build a new mobile friendly website structure that can “call” the same images and copy that you keep current on your main website. That way you won’t be responsible for managing two different websites every time you need to update your inventory.

Depending on what ecommerce platform you’re using, check Google to see what other “etailers” are doing for their mobile solutions. Plenty of other business owners have already gone down this path and have most likely vetted good solutions for your store.

The important thing here being that it's no secret that consumers are increasingly turning to anything but their desktop to browse the web, which means if they stumble upon your site, it better satisfy their need to browse through touch and make a purchase on their tablet or mobile device, otherwise, you'll be missing out on a lot of sales. Something that can't be good when you're trying to make that first crucial sale, so make it a priority.

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