6 Reasons Your Small Business Site Isn’t Mobile-Friendly and How to Fix Them

An online customer experience expert reveals 6 solutions for common mobile optimization pitfalls.
Mobile Friendly
Text that is too small or too light is a common problem for websites. (Photo: radoma/Shutterstock)

It’s crucial to optimize your small business website for mobile devices because that is how more and more potential customers are accessing your site. But many small businesses haven’t done the work, frustrating mobile customers with complex navigation, slow loading times and a poor user experience.

But making your website mobile­-friendly isn’t as simple as creating a mini-­version of your desktop site.

And it’s certainly not without its challenges and headaches.

Hayley Silver, VP of Bizrate Insights, a division of Connexity, leads Bizrate Insights’ U.S. Advisory Services group, which helps retailers grow sales and consumer loyalty by helping them start a dialogue with customers. Silver suggested these steps to help you optimize your small business mobile website:

Problem 1: Slow mobile load time

Slow mobile load time may be unavoidable at times, but there are some steps you can take to reduce it. As a reward, you’ll probably see a drop in abandonment almost instantly, Silver said. She offered these fixes to speed up mobile load time:

• Reduce image file sizes
Reduce image sizes to exact size needed to fit the page (be sure they also support the zoom feature, if available).

• Minimize dependency request
“This means that items of interest to the audience need to load first and not be dependent on other items to load to work. The days of waiting for a complete page to load prior to consumer interaction are over.”

Aim for <1 second for a consumer to see all main points on a page and interact with it, Silver said.

Problem 2: Text that’s too small

This is a common problem. It remains a persistent complaint by mobile customers. There is a gap between what retailers assume is “readable,” and what customers can actually read, Silver said.

“If the text seems a bit small, too light, or not contrasted enough with the site’s background, then change it. Don’t risk losing customers just because they’re tired of squinting.”

There isn’t a set recommendation on text size, Silver said. “Consider the target audience and default device settings. Assume that reading glasses are not readily accessible given the on­the­-go nature of phones (even though we are often at home when we use our mobile devices). If the phone needs to be turned or text zoomed in on, then the text is too small.”

More readability tips from Silver:

• Larger text = less text
Ask: “How can we say this in fewer words?” Short, concise content is the way to go.

• Focus more on headlines
“Frontload” your important content on mobile. Most people won’t get past the headline or the first few sentences.

Problem 3: Don’t make me type!

Screens have gotten larger, but mobile shoppers still don’t like typing on their mobile phones — and they likely never will, Silver said. Here are some easy remedies:

• Offer smart search
“Smart search” is a capability that auto-­suggests common searches based on what the user has started to type, which reduces unnecessary typing to complete their thought.

• Offer PayPal to reduce checkout time
Google Wallet, PayPal and other checkout services save customers from entering their credit card and address information for every purchase, Silver said.

Problem 4: Images are too small

Great mobile shopping experiences require a delicate balance; space is extremely limited, but content must be large enough to read, Silver said. E­-tailers must carefully consider their mobile content prioritization. “The priority on their list should always be images. Product images are critical in an e-­commerce business, and in mobile, they are even more important.”

Other solutions from Silver:

• Offer more images
Keep in mind that mobile shoppers don’t want to type and click — they want to seamlessly browse through visuals.

“Unlike the desktop experience, your mobile interface should be heavily stilted towards images; ideally imagery will represent at least 50% of your screen space, and be the central focus of your mobile pages.”

• Offer zoom functionality
Make sure users can zoom by pinching and/or double­-tapping the image, especially for product images, Silver said.

“I often hear consumer complaints about the locking of images so that they can’t be zoomed in on or the lack of clarity when one can zoom in. Retailers need to provide high­-resolution images that show the details of products from all angles and, if pertinent, products’ size relative to other items or people.”

• Use 4-­6 product thumbnails on category pages
“While a retail category page on desktop could have as many as 16 products on a single page, you obviously need to decrease total thumbnails on mobile. Aim to use 4 to 6 images on the screen at once; otherwise the images may be too small and difficult to view.”

Problem 5: Limited product information

Although reducing text on your homepage and category pages can provide more space on your mobile screen, don’t sacrifice product copy.

“Mobile customers who are seriously considering a purchase want the same amount of product info as they would find on a desktop. Never eliminate or reduce product details to save space. Instead, be smart about how you display it,” Silver said.

More ideas to consider:

• Offer a ‘click for more’ option
If you have limited real estate on your product page, offer a teaser and a “click for more” option.

• Use tabs
Divide your product description into tabs (description, details, return policy, etc.).

Problem 6: Data security concerns

Due to recent public data breaches, customer concerns about data security are valid. In fact, “Bizrate Insights reports that nearly two-­thirds of American shoppers don’t trust retailers with their payment and personal information,” Silver said.

These solutions can help:

• Offer alternative payment options
Payment options such as PayPal, Google Wallet and Visa Checkout don’t require customers to enter their personal data. In fact, Bizrate Insights surveyed several customers who mentioned they prefer PayPal for security reasons, Silver said.

• Reassure customers about their data safety
Use terminology such as “enter secure checkout” throughout your mobile site. Offer detailed information about your security policies for customers who want to learn more.

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