With the number of global smartphone users continually rising, it has become common practice to design websites for the mobile-first experience. Undoubtedly, responsive web design is an absolute necessity for a business website.
But businesses who want to stay ahead of the competition and provide their customers with the best digital shopping experience possible are steadily turning to an even more optimized medium: mobile apps.
Designing a mobile app is one of the best things you can do to grow your e-commerce business. It’s an ideal response to the needs and behaviors of modern-day consumers, considering that more than 50% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile devices in 2018.
Being tailored specifically for the mobile experience, apps make navigation much simpler and efficient for the ever-growing population of mobile users. This is especially important for e-commerce, where you want to rely on a custom-tailored platform in order to present your products and not only make shopping effortless but a pleasant experience as well.
Although many design principles remain the same in essence, e-commerce app design is still a specific chapter on its own. In order to get the most out of it and impress users, here are the essentials to pay attention to so you can have the perfect app for your online store.
1. Intuitive design
A well-designed User Interface (UI) and an optimized User Experience (UX) are the key to success for an online business.
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This entails three main points:
- navigation is intuitive and effortless
- the design serves to guide visitors through the steps you want them to take (ultimately ending in a successful sale)
- there are no frustrating obstacles or glitches that may result in visitors abandoning your online store before completing their order
An uncluttered User Interface is crucial to achieving all this. Keeping the appearance simple and clean will allow you to direct your visitor’s focus to where you want it and save them the frustration of a confusing interface. Moreover, the clean and uncluttered design makes for faster loading times, which is extremely important in lowering abandonment rates.
Now, intuitive navigation is a longstanding principle of website design, but when it comes to apps, we need to keep in mind that user behavior is not exactly the same as it would be on a desktop. Look out for these things:
- Screen size is smaller, which means you need to pay attention to readability and the size of buttons accordingly. This can be perfected through user testing, but keep in mind that a smaller screen ultimately means you’ll have less content per page – that way you’ll avoid extensive scrolling or a cluttered UI.
- Use white space to give breathing room to the design and bring out the most important features.
- The “thumb-friendly zone”: the key functions of your app (the menu button, search, and the cart button) need to be placed within this zone, where they’re easy to reach by the thumb while holding the phone. This is how apps are navigated, and it is one of the key deciding factors in UI design.
- Highlight your promotions and most popular products on the home screen of the app to guide users instinctively when they open the app.
2. Typography as a visual element
Because of the smaller screen size and the way smartphones are used (i.e. the thumb zone), mobile app design comes with more constrictions in order to optimize UX.
Consequently, this can lead to losing on authenticity as all apps follow the same basic principles of intuitive design. Thus, you need to approach every feature as an opportunity to establish a strong visual identity, and this also includes typography.
For example, some of the latest mobile app designs feature custom typefaces which help brands stand out and show their unique identity. You can also use bold typefaces, which are currently gaining popularity because of their visual effect, in order to convey simple messages or promote your most popular products.
3. Effective Iconography
Even more obviously than typography, icons are a strong visual element of app design. Keep in mind that you need to limit the use of heavy images per screen because they can clutter the UI and cause slower loading. But icons are where you can get creative and give the app personality, while simultaneously using them to establish a visual hierarchy on the screen.
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Collaborate with a professional graphic designer to create icons for every category of your online store. Focus on authenticity and a visual identity that corresponds with your brand as well as on functionality: make sure each icon conveys its function clearly.
For example, you’ll still need an image of the shopping cart for the “add to cart” button because that is the most intuitive and clear to users, but you can have your own unique take on it. Consider the color palette and an on-going visual motif throughout the app.
4. Clear and visible call to action
As we’ve mentioned previously, you e-commerce app design will be significantly different from your website because the smaller screen size means you’ll be able to display fewer items per screen. That’s why it’s important to establish a condensed hierarchy, where the top-priority buttons are clearly displayed throughout – that’s your menu button and the “add to cart” button.
The former will contain only the most important categories in a concise manner and the latter needs to be effectively highlighted and always accessible in order to encourage users to take action. This also sends them a message even before they take action that the process will be effortless and simple.
Another effective feature you can have is the “favorite” button, which lets users compile their favorite products with a single tap. Just like in real-life stores, this gives users the options to browse casually through your products, take note of what they like best, and eventually take it with them to check-out. Many e-commerce apps have this feature because it contributes to the shopping experience overall.
5. Effortless signup and checkout
How you design these features is crucial to minimizing your abandonment rates, considering that the average shopping cart abandonment rate for online retailers is over 60%. Ensuring that the signup and checkout process is short and simple is your best bet to avoid users getting frustrated and bailing before you make the sale. Here’s how to do that:
- Integrate social media to your app to allow registration through a social network. That will save plenty of time for users and you’ll avoid asking them for personal information. This will also bring another benefit: giving users the option to share your products on social media.
- Keep all forms short and demand only the most essential information.
- Store user information so that they don’t have to repeat the same process when they come back and Include an auto-complete feature to save time for filling out forms.
- Use interactive design to keep your customers engaged and patient during the checkout process. A progress bar which tells them how many steps are left is a very effective feature to avoid exasperation if your checkout takes a couple of steps.
Investing time and resources to design a beautiful and user-oriented e-commerce app will pay off tenfold for your business. That’s why it’s better to hold the launch off until you have everything covered than to roll out an app that won’t provide an effortless and tailored experience. Pay attention to all the aspects we’ve talked about and you’ll be on your way, but don’t forget the ultimate issue: security.
Make sure that your app is developed to protect your customers’ data and don’t hesitate to assure them of this. After all, a secure and reliable app is what will keep your brand reputation spotless and keep satisfied customers coming back.
Meaghan Yorke is a web designer who is also quite passionate about digital marketing. These days she is all about researching various IT related topics. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.