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4 Heuristics for Great Mobile Retail Experiences

Maris DeBruhl
Product Designer
May 17, 2021

2020 was a year of minimized physical interaction in stores. Stores needed mobile experiences that made it easy to shop, plan for in-store visits, and check out. On top of that, two billion people – 51% of the global population-- access the internet only from their smartphones. Now more than ever it is essential for retail strategy to meet ever-rising customer expectations.

  • 19% of US online adults made a contactless payment in-store for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic; 62% of these consumers used their phone.
  • 55% of US online adults prefer to access product reviews on their own, rather than ask for help from a store associate when shopping in a store.
  • Almost half (48%) of US online adults want information about product availability before they buy offline, and 33% say they’re less likely to visit a store if its inventory isn’t available online.

Consistent Experiences Build Trust

World-class digital experiences begin with trust. Brands build trust with users through consistent, unique experiences that show who the brand is and its relationship to the user. Trust is crucial to retaining current customers and acquiring new ones. Designing and prototyping your websites for mobile devices first helps ensure a seamless user experience on any device.

Let’s dig into some heuristics we use to create experiences that meet the needs of the customers and the business.

#1. Clear & seamless user flow

Designing a clear and seamless user flow reduces the effort users have to put in to get to what they want.

  • Break large tasks into smaller, meaningful chunks. Prioritize the actions on screen. Highlight the core action, and hide all secondary actions.
  • Design for interruption. Allow users to save their progress and re-engage with the app later.
  • Provide effective search bars, with features that include predictive search, relevant results, editable queries, and deeply relevant filters.
  • Improve customers’ confidence, trust, and task completion by updating headers, providing “back button” navigation, and displaying the customer’s current step in a process.

#2 Invisible User Interface

Mobile-first = Content-first. Focus on the content and remove unnecessary elements that do not support user tasks.

  • Given their reduced attention span, users should be guided to the content they’re looking for, quickly.
  • Put your most important content as soon as possible on your page, and keep main actions accessible.
  • Present content in a visual hierarchy depending on how important it is to your user.
  • Clutter overloads an interface with too much information. Every added button, image, and line of text makes the screen more complicated.

#3 Breathing Room

White space or negative space serves a very important purpose in design. Designers use white space to draw attention to important content.

  • Allow enough spacing and padding. A smaller screen doesn’t mean you should use smaller text or less space.
  • Use a legible font size. Apple and Google recommend at least ~11 points so users can read it at a typical viewing distance without zooming.
  • Don’t let text or other elements overlap. Improve legibility by increasing line height or element spacing.
  • Make sure all interactive elements and buttons are big enough without the risk of accidentally tapping another element.

#4 Simple Navigation

Navigation should inspire users to engage and interact with the content you are delivering.

  • Navigation should accommodate the needs of the majority of your users.
  • Minimize the user’s memory load by making actions and options visible. Navigation should be available at all times.
  • Condense your secondary elements into easy to reach navigational buttons.
  • Give prominence in the UI to paths and destinations with high priority levels and frequent use.

Final Thoughts

The past year has dramatically accelerated the evolution of mobile ecommerce. By leading with innovative world-class mobile design, retailers can meet (and exceed) rising customer expectations, to deliver memorable experiences that build brand loyalty and trust. Remember, these tips are just the beginning. You should mix and match these tips with your own ideas for the best results. Let us know what you find most effective, we’re all ears.

Maris DeBruhl
Product Designer

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