According to analytics company StatCounter, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic on the web for the first time in late 2016. As more people discover that a smartphone can do nearly all of the things that a computer can — and in far greater comfort — the gap between mobile and desktop Internet usage will continue to widen.
Have you ever tried viewing your e-commerce website on a smartphone? If your website serves content to mobile users at desktop resolutions, it might surprise you to discover how horrible the experience really is. Viewing a desktop website on a mobile phone, you need to pinch to view the entire page — but when you pinch, the text is too small to read. The links and buttons are also too small to tap.
To get the highest possible conversions from your e-commerce website, you need to provide the best possible experience to all customers — including mobile customers.
Responsive design makes it possible to provide your users with an experience optimized for their smaller screens — without compromising the experience that your desktop users have.
What Is Responsive Design?
Responsive design specifies the sizes of page elements using proportions rather than absolute values. Suppose, for example, that an image is 1,000 pixels wide. On a desktop computer with a screen width of 1,366 pixels, the image will fit comfortably within the browser window. On a phone held in portrait mode, though, the browser will render a portion of the image off of the screen. To view the image, you'll have to pinch.
Suppose instead that the website's design specifies that the image should consume 100 percent of the browser's width. Now, the browser automatically changes the size of the image to make it fit on any screen size. Responsive design ensures that all users have the same experience when viewing your website.
How Does Responsive Design Improve Conversion Rates?
If your website isn't currently responsive, migrating to a responsive website will require fairly significant resources. If you need evidence that the investment will be worthwhile, look no further than this 2012 Google survey of more than 1,000 smartphone users. The survey's respondents overwhelmingly told Google that they tended to visit mobile-friendly websites repeatedly and would avoid websites that weren't optimized for mobile devices.
67 percent of respondents said that they were more likely to buy products and services through mobile-friendly websites.
52 percent said that they would not be as likely to engage with a company if it didn't have a mobile-friendly website.
The survey's results suggest that if your website isn't mobile-friendly, you'll lose at least half of your potential conversions from mobile customers for various reasons (poor forms, hard-to-push buttons, having to zoom in and out, etc.). If potential customers use mobile devices to generate more than half of your website's traffic and you lose more than half of your potential mobile sales because your website isn't responsive, then implementing a responsive design could increase your sales by as much as one-third.
Use a Responsive Checkout System
Does your website hand customers off to a separate checkout system when they're ready to complete their orders? If it does, you need to make sure that both your website and your checkout system are responsive. During the checkout process, it is crucial that your customers have the ability to read the numbers and text that they enter.
If you’re still in the research phase of building out your e-commerce store, there are plenty of out-of-the-box solutions that will enable you to have a responsive shopping cart without major web development manpower being needed. Solutions from brands like Wordpress, Shopify, or even plugins can help keep those conversion rates high for mobile visitors.
Improve Your Website's Speed
Have you ever tested your website on a mobile network connection? According to a 2016 Google report, 53 percent of smartphone users abandon websites that take longer than three seconds to load. Unfortunately, the average website takes about 19 seconds to load over a 3G network connection. Could your website's poor performance discourage potential customers from converting? If performance problems cause people to abandon your website, a responsive design alone won't resolve the problem.
These solutions can help you improve your website's loading time on mobile devices.
Use a Content Distribution Network
A CDN such as CloudFlare or Amazon CloudFront can deliver static content such as images and HTML documents much more quickly than your own website's server. A CDN creates an extremely fast experience for users anywhere in the world without sacrificing any of your website's functionality.
Try Accelerated Mobile Pages
When you make your website compatible with AMP, Google caches your website's pages to deliver them to mobile users nearly instantly — even on slower mobile networks. AMP isn't as easy to set up as a CDN. Also, AMP strips some functionality from pages to ensure that they'll load instantly. If you want your website to give mobile users the fastest possible performance, though, nothing is faster than AMP.
Optimize Your Images
Compression can greatly reduce the sizes of the images that users need to download to view your pages. If you use WordPress, the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin can optimize your images automatically. Alternatively, use Google PageSpeed Insights. The PageSpeed Insights tool can optimize your images for you. You can download the optimized images and upload them to your server to reduce your website's page loading times. PageSpeed Insights only scans one page at a time to find opportunities for optimization, though, so using it for a website with many pages may be a lengthy process.