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Responsive E-Commerce Site Design Isn’t Just For Mobile

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 by Servage

responsive e-commerce web design

Welcome to the modern computing period, otherwise known as the mobile era. Market surveys support this designation, by reporting $70 billion in global sales revenue for smartphones and $134 billion for tablets. Each is estimated to more than double within the next 5 years with figures of $173 billion and a walloping $453 billion respectively.

With this growth in mind, many businesses look to establish a mobile presence with their own online applications. Yet, native apps are expensive to develop and keep up to date with ever-changing technologies. Therefore, small to mid-sized businesses are continually looking to responsive designing. Not only is responsive designing cost effective over the long term, but such a design strategy can simulate native mobile experiences, via touch and swipe. The computing era where users point at their devices with a mouse at archaic UI elements, certainly appears to be diminishing.

When I talk, however, about native mobile experiences, this doesn’t mean we only focus on mobile specific strategies while planning and crafting responsive designing projects. Responsive design is truly for the current web and mobile. Today, we must adapt to a vast array of desktops and laptops, with not just screen sizes in mind, but other hardware and software characteristics add an intricate layer to our modern design strategies.

Historically, we only had to focus on desktops, whereas today we know there are giant LCD screens on desks as well as on walls, via TV-computer combos. And so, our images, content layouts and other UI elements must scale from these larger devices to the tiny dimensions of smartphones and tablets, in a single moment. Additionally, many subtle changes are critical to responsive designing, and particularly, e-commerce website design. Let’s dig deeper on this last point.

Responsive E-Commerce Website Designing

E-commerce experts consistently recommend excellent checkout experiences. They understand that slight annoyances for users on checkout will often lead to poor conversion rates. Duplicating UI elements from web to mobile can be a significant mistake. With a mouse, precision pointing on a narrow hotspot of buttons seems easy and elegant for design. But with touch screens and mobile keyboards, it can be challenging and render our designs inoperable, or annoying at best. Typing, in general, is horrendous on mobile devices, so having to re-enter personal info must be avoided in favor of PayPal-like, mobile friendly, payment gateways. The lowest hanging fruit in mobile-targeted, e-commerce websites, is security. When you scan your credit/debit card on a mobile device, there isn’t any guarantee your vital information is securely encrypted. Moreover, uploading on the cloud can be a wary proposition anywhere that Amazon cloud is not present to ensure quality care of your critical data.

Duration of Web Development Process

We can think of tiny smartphones and giant desktops as two ends of the designing spectrum. In the early transition from desktop-only to mobile-friendly, we might spend a good deal of time and resources gathering various kinds of smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc., especially for QA and testing. Responsive web designing can be a lengthy process as well as a costly venture. Another daunting task is simulating decent visuals on desktops and smartphones. For programmers and designers, the task is particularly challenging when Flash and other scripts are possibly disabled.

User Behaviors

From tiny devices to big sister devices, user behaviors can widely vary. For instance, scanning a Home page is swift on big devices/screens, while on tiny screens it likely entails exhaustive scrolling. Modern web users are generally hurried and seek all possible navigation options on the home page, before deciding whether to explore a site or move on. Prohibition of long or wide drop down menus is generally a big drawback for responsive website designers.

Different Tastes of User Interfaces

The look and feel of UI elements plays a crucial role. Adding too many elements in tiny screen UIs is a big mistake for a mobile-only strategist. On the other hand, leaving overly simplistic UI for big screen users goes against aesthetics. Responsive web designers must therefore find a balance between the two.

There are many other elements influencing the course of responsive designers and designing process, as we will see later on.

References & More Reading:
Responsive eCommerce Design: Two Truths and a Lie
Exploring Ten Fundamental Aspects Of M-Commerce Usability

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