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How User Behavior Varies by Device and Impacts Mobile Design

Date published: December 03, 2014
Last updated: December 3, 2014

E-commerce is growing exponentially every year and likewise, purchases from mobile phones are also growing at a swift pace. By now, 63 percent of mobile users access the Internet on their devices.

Around 77 percent of business executives also use mobile devices to research new products or services. Hence, it’s imperative for retailers to understand and strategize differently for this growing number of mobile customers.

Mobile Commerce vs. Desktop/Laptop Commerce: The Major Differences

  • Mobile shoppers convert at a lower percentage than desktop users. The reasons for this are the smaller screen size, location of the shopper and even the performance of the mobile device itself. The rate of conversions from smartphones varied from 63 percent to just 1.37 percent.
  • Industry matters. Mobile conversion is a mere 1.17 percent in the automotive industry, whereas the food industry climbs up to 2.51 percent, suggesting that people prefer to make small-budget purchases from their mobile phone.
  • Multiple devices is the norm. Users love switching between devices while checking out products. Most start their product research on their smartphones but end up completing the purchase on their desktop or laptop.

How Mobile and the Desktop Websites Should Differ for Optimal Results

Given the stark differences in the buying patterns on smartphones and desktops, how should businesses design their mobile and desktop sites for optimum results? Should content, features, and the functionality of mobile sites be scaled down, or is there a better approach?

  • Consistency in Content: Eighty-four percent of store visitors use their mobile devices before or during a shopping trip, so it is understandable that mobile devices are used for research purposes. Hence, scaling down on content on the mobile site is a strict no-no. The content should be consistent on both sites to avoid bad shopping experiences, shopping cart abandonment and misunderstanding about products.
  • Different Features: Depending on the retailer, the desktop and the mobile sites may have different features. Mobile phones have shorter screen sizes than desktops, so it is important to design the site so that that the screen looks neat and inviting, instead of being clogged with redundant elements. Too many features and functionalities on smartphones can also lead to stress, resulting in the user abandoning the purchase.
  • Bigger Images: Mobile screens are small, so it would be prudent to have bigger images – especially in the landscape mode of a mobile phone – so that users can see all the important details.
  • Location Detection: The mobile version of a website may also have a location detection feature via GPS, which can add personalized value to the mobile shopping experience for the user.

Since content is at the heart of any website, it should be fully accessible from any kind of device. For mobile sites, scale down features and functionality, but scale up the size and resolution of images. Finally, when applicable, take advantage of GPS location detection to improve the shopping experience of mobile users with personalized offers.

Global smartphone statistics have put marketers in a frenzy to devise strategies for this growing demographic. There is still a lot to unravel about the psychology of smartphone customers, but understanding how user behavior differs between devices is a great place to start.

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