Researchers from Google recently hosted 119 hour-long user testing sessions, in which they observed everyday people using 100 different popular (though unnamed) mobile websites, ranging from retail to insurance to news. Users were encouraged to talk about their frustrations in real time while attempting to make a purchase or get a quote--any number of actionable things the industry at large calls user “conversion.”
If your mobile site doesn’t have a search bar, you should probably add one. “People [on mobiles] want to find something quickly, with urgency, so we found a strong need to have search visible on the homepage,” Gove explains.
Many sites Google studied required quite a bit information from the user at some point in the process, like addresses and credit card numbers for shipping and billing a purchase. For these cases, long pages with many fields for text should divided into smaller, more approachable chunks--the exact same information can be requested over several pages rather than one big one.
Some sites require you to register or login to make a purchase. Others require you to register or login just to browse the site at all. Both of these approaches are big mistakes on mobile because a responsibility as trivial as deciding on a password really bothered participants in the study.
“If you’re thinking about retail sites or anything like that, providing the opportunity to check out as a guest was very much preferred when people didn’t have an existing account,” Gove says. “Stores want you to register of course, but they can do that after the process.”
We often use our mobiles on the go, and as a result, we're more likely to be interrupted during the browsing experience than if we're planted at our desks reading a laptop.
“Another thing we saw that was quite painful was, users wanted the opportunity to continue their conversion process, or follow up on research, at a later time or different device,” Gove says. “We saw many users painfully copy and pasting URLs to themselves.”
The fix can be as simple as a shortcut button for users to email something to themselves to check out later, which is user-centric design of course, but it also pays off for the business to re-engage a user at a later time on another device.
IT’S OBVIOUS STUFF, BUT ONLY IN RETROSPECT
Near the end of our call with Google, we couldn’t help but ask: Wasn’t some of what she was pointing out, well, ridiculously obvious?
“That’s the interesting thing about user research. It comes across as yes, these things are obvious, but it’s surprising how many [sites are still breaking these rules today],” Gove says. “It’s a good thing that the lessons are so easily recognizable. It means now, when we write them down and publish them, it’s clear what has to be done.”
Looking for some help in getting your mobile site better...just give us a call 604.619.9336 or email us.