Mobile empowers users to access your site at anytime and from anywhere. Is your site ready for them? Your mobile site should allow users to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for without sacrificing richness of content. While there are a lot of expert opinions about how to do this, very few are based on actual data and research. So we partnered with AnswerLab to study more than 100 mobile users as they completed conversion-focused tasks across a diverse group of sites. From this research, we developed 25 principles of mobile site design to help you develop a mobile site that both delights your users and drives engagement.

Let’s take a closer look at three findings from the research:

Primacy of site search
Study participants with a specific need, especially those visiting retail sites, turned to site search to find what they were looking for. Participants were quick to abandon sites that returned irrelevant search results or a large set of results that they were unable to narrow.

Key takeaway: Ensure site search is visible on the homepage via an open text field, returns relevant results, and is equipped with advanced features, like auto-complete and filters, to get users what they want quickly.

Mobile site misconceptions
If presented a choice, study participants would often tap on the link to visit the “full site” due to a perception that they’d be missing out on something by staying on the mobile site. Choosing the “mobile site” implied to them that they were not getting the “full” experience, when in reality, the mobile site offered most, if not all of the functionality in an easier-to-view format.

Key takeaway: If your mobile site provides the same content and functionality as your desktop site in an easier-to-use format, then there is no need to provide a link to the desktop site. If you do decide to provide users with a link to the desktop site, then use terms like “desktop site” instead of “full site” to be clear that both sites offer a complete experience.

Sites with a mix of mobile optimized and desktop pages provide a poor user experience
Unsurprisingly, it was easier for participants to navigate mobile-optimized sites on their mobile devices than desktop sites on their mobile devices. However, sites that included a mix of desktop and mobile-optimized pages were actually harder for participants to use than sites with all-desktop pages.

Key takeaway: To improve user experience, task completion and conversion rates, go all in and optimize your entire site for mobile. If launching in phases, then make sure users don’t have to traverse between desktop pages and mobile optimized pages to complete their tasks.

To review our complete findings, download the Principles of Mobile Site Design from Think Multi-Screen. Use the principles to review the effectiveness of your existing site or to guide the creation of your first mobile-optimized site.

Posted by Jenny Gove, User Experience Researcher, Google
Was this blog post useful? Share your feedback with us.