The Website Development Shift of Mobile-First Ecommerce

Chuck Forbes - February 14, 2024

People are on their phones more than ever before, but it is due to the rapid growth of technology that Ecommerce brands now find themselves selling through the phone. Mobile devices come equipped with operating systems that make it easy for users to browse and purchase in just a few clicks – Apple Pay and Google Pay are examples of this.

Ecommerce brands have also adapted to how customers are using their mobile devices. Since it is easy to browse and purchase from their mobile device, the user journey has changed. Now, customers can enter the decision phase and make a purchase at any time.

Profit has transferred from brick-and-mortar locations to dot-coms

And this is unlikely to change any time soon. But it does present new challenges and some beneficial effects to the digital marketing world and the developers who are building Ecommerce websites.

For starters, development teams have shifted their focus to building websites with better responsive templates and faster load times. It wasn’t that long ago when having a fully responsive website with an optimized mobile and tablet version was an idea brands were still deciding the importance of. Now, it is a must if you are going to compete and build ROI. It’s not just a demand from users, but also a requirement from search engines if you want to rank well. Without a responsive website that is fast, you’re going to lose customer attention and organic rankings.

The design team that works with the developers also must adapt to a mobile-first website. This often means creating menus, buttons and page layouts that are simplified. Simple templates with fewer options and clear places to click are going to provide a better user experience on a mobile screen. Personally, I love this transition because I believe true design genius is turning a complex Ecommerce business into a simple layout – without giving up branding and product spotlight. Users are not fans of ‘busy’ and cluttered desktop designs; they are not likely to engage with a mobile site that is visually overwhelming.

Another development element that has been born from the mobile-first Ecommerce revolution is a secondary menu. It is now the norm to expect the traditional website menu that drops down with page options, and another menu (usually on the opposite side or corner of the site) that offers chat bots, cart updates and options for exclusive promotions. Developers are now building landing pages with menus that act more like toolbelts. The strategic vision is to have accessible places on the side of the screen available for the user to select at any time when they are on the site or logged into their account.  With added menu options on the page, especially something like a chat bot for customer inquiries, load time is a big priority. These additions are putting a lot of more elements on the page to load every time the user refreshes, making optimized responsive website templates the only ones to have.

The good news is, if you can build it effectively in mobile, you shouldn’t have trouble translating your website to desktop. Previously brands were doing the opposite and they would run into heavy scrutiny from their own team and loyal customers, because some elements they had grown to love on the desktop version were just not viable to keep or build on the mobile version. Responsive website templates have upgraded so much, it is possible to build anything you have on desktop in mobile. But now the question is not “can we build it?” The question is “should we build it?” Mobile sites give you limited real estate, forcing the design and templates to be simplistic – some pop-ups, banners and headers are best not transferring to your mobile version.

While developers have certainly shifted to a new way of building websites, you could argue the largest shift has come from content writers. Think about all the space on a desktop that is removed when viewing a site on a mobile device. Content writers used to have great introductory copy and headlines that worked on desktop sites for a long time. Now, just like the designers and the developers, they must shift to writing quick, catchy hooks that provide brand and product or service information. Just like the designs and developers, true genius in writing is taking a thousand words and saying the same thing, with the same emotional response, in one hundred words.

This entire landscape shift, thanks to the evolution of technology and the customer journey, has made digital marketing teams stronger. Don’t be confused – designing simpler templates, developing mobile-first websites, and writing shorter content – is not easier. In fact, it is harder – and that is why I believe it has made marketers stronger.

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