This month, over 1 billion people will use Facebook from a mobile device. Of that billion, 399 million will never see their newsfeed on a computer screen: about 30% of all active Facebook users access the site exclusively through mobile. And Mr. Zuckerberg’s ubiquitous social network is not unique. Last year, for the first time, Americans spent more time on their smartphones than on their computers, and in January 2014 mobile apps surpassed desktop browsing in total share of internet usage.

Graph of recent and predicted web usage by mobile versus desktop browsing
Web usage on mobile devices vs. computers

Everywhere, the importance of mobile is growing, but the trend is disproportionately strong in the world of online commerce, where mobile has rapidly overtaken desktop as the primary environment for customer interaction. Tickets vendor StubHub has seen a majority of their traffic flock to mobile, where a ticket is now purchased every 6 seconds. Mobile devices have doubled the time American consumers spend online, and 67% of online consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose site is optimized for mobile; on the other hand, 30% are liable to abandon a purchase midway through the process if the shopping experience is not mobile-friendly.

That’s why it’s so important that your online presence is carefully designed to cater to the mobile masses. As much as people love to shop on their phones and tablets, rising expectations or shorter attention spans or the proliferation of choices or some other variable has resulted in a finicky mobile market. It is not enough to simply offer online shopping for mobile – consumers want streamlined, user-friendly mobile shopping experiences that look good, feel comfortable, function smoothly, and inspire trust and credibility.

Disappointment on Devices

In a 2013 survey by Jumio, two-thirds of mobile consumers reported abandoning a purchase – half of them because the checkout process just took too long or was too difficult. Another quarter said their purchase failed because it didn’t go through, and still more cited concerns for the security of their payment information. Clearly, despite the ever-increasing importance of mobile, most online retailers aren’t doing enough to maximize the opportunities it offers.

Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions. Florist ProFlowers optimized their website for mobile devices and saw a 20-30% increase in their conversion rate. Not only that, they found that having a well-designed mobile presence increases conversions on desktop devices as well. That’s because mobile visitors are much more likely to return to your site on their computer if they are satisfied with their mobile experience, thanks to high rates of device-switching to accomplish tasks online. (Maybe that has to do with the 25% of people whose mobile purchases didn’t go through).

So, are you optimizing your online presence for mobile? Ask yourself this: if you ran a few usability tests on your mobile site or app today, are you confident that users would be willing to input their credit card information without hesitation? That they would be able to read your content and descriptions without pinching and zooming? That they would feel at ease navigating through your menus, search results, and product pages?

(Wait, did you say usability testing on mobile?)

Or would they be part of the 47% that felt the checkout process was so long and tortuous as to make it not worth their time?

Mobile is too big to ignore. Crossing your fingers and hoping your website that was designed for the computer screen will translate while consumers migrate to devices in droves is not a strategy for our mobile present.

Want to learn more about designing for mobile? TryMyUI is hosting a webinar on The State of Mobile UX November 4th with Chandika Bhandari of Seattle AppLab and Derek Olson of Foraker Labs. Join here:

By Tim Rotolo

Tim Rotolo is a co-founder at Trymata, and the company's Chief Growth Officer. He is a born researcher whose diverse interests include design, architecture, history, psychology, biology, and more. Tim holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College in southern California. You can reach him on Linkedin at or on Twitter at @timoroto

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