Google has come up with 25 useful principles for mobile site design.

The stakes have never been higher for retailers to engage mobile consumers. Now more than ever, shoppers are turning to their smartphones to research potential purchases. Google calls these bursts of attention and intentionmicro-moments, when someone reaches for their smartphone to buy, do, learn, go, etc. in the moment.  However, in micro-moments, consumers are not met with frictionless, mobile-optimized shopping journeys. They’re forced to multi-screen from mobile to desktop because retailers have not fully embraced a mobile-first or mobile-only approach to UX.

But to meet the needs and expectations of today’s omnichannel consumers, retailers must transform their shopping experiences for mobile lifestyles.

This is where you come in.

Mobile Retail Apps and Sites: Designing a Better Experience for Shoppers

As part of Google’s research into micro-moments, the company looked at user experiences on bothretail apps and mobile sites. The team tracked common activities such as searching for products, navigating sites/apps, exploring product pages and completing purchases. The result is a useful list of25 principles for designing retail mobile sites and apps. It’s organized by five themes based on common mobile shopper behavior and expectations.


By using these principles as a reference guide, retailers can address mobile consumer needs and support them throughout their shopping experiences.

1) Exploration and Search

  • Ensure your mobile site or app loads quickly. Impatience is a virtue. Many shoppers use their phones to shop while they’re out and about and have little patience for apps and sites that load slowly.
  • Provide clear utility before asking users to register. Only ask a user to register if it’s essential. Users often abandon an app that asks them to provide personal information upfront unless there’s some form of immediate payoff.
  • Speak the same language as your users. Buzzwords, internal names or unknown terms or phrases will increase cognitive load for the user. Clear communication and functionality should always drive calls to action over promoting the brand message.
  • Use effective search indexing. Ensure that search results are useful based on how people actually search on mobile. Some helpful functions include spelling auto-corrections, recognition of root words, predictive text, and suggestions while the user enters text.
  • Don’t let promotions steal the show. Providing an engaging experience on your mobile site is the best way to encourage users to opt-in to download and engage with your app.

2) Product Details and Reviews

  • Provide full product details. Users appreciate it when retailers show all available product information: stock availability, sizes, color choices, descriptions, photos, videos, and more.
  • Let the user control the level of zoom. Put users in control by allowing them to zoom in as they prefer.
  • Show users how much they’re saving on discounted products. To make the most of your promotions, ensure you display the sale price and the original price as a comparison.
  • Show in-store availability on product pages. Allow users to select a preferred store easily and show local availability
  • Display shipping costs and delivery dates on the item page. Users expect shipping costs and delivery timing to be clear and surface as soon as possible as it now factors into decision-making.
  • Allow user reviews to be viewed and filtered. A large number of reviews (good and bad) gives prospective buyers more confidence. Aggregate rating distributions and allow users to sort and filter so they can get the “real story” about an item.
  • Encourage consumer-generated content. User-generated content, such as photos, questions-and-answers, or aggregated data, helps people make decisions.
  • Surface related products at opportune moments. When users are thinking about replacement or add-on products, they appreciate relevant product recommendations on product pages, in the cart, or prior to check out.

3) Checkout and Payments

  • Allow shoppers to continue shopping after adding an item to the cart. Provide feedback to confirm that the item has been added to the cart and allow users to continue shopping.
  • Let shoppers edit the cart. When users accidentally add an item or add the wrong number of an item, they can become frustrated if they can’t make corrections intuitively and easily from the cart itself
  • Resurface promotions, deals, and coupons at checkout. Avoid losing shoppers who have yet to make a purchase by providing promotions, deals, and coupons that can be used immediately at checkout.
  • Let users purchase as a guest.  Creating an account which allows users to track purchases, receive special offers, or make the purchasing experience more efficient in the future can be recommended to users after the checkout process
  • Show users the checkout process is secure. Ensure that your site or app is secure by following modern data security best practices (like https and password encryption) and providing a visual security indicator.
  • Provide multiple third-party payment options. Apps and mobile sites that provide third-party payment options, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Android Pay, simplify checkout and can provide an increased sense of security.
  • Provide a detailed summary after purchase. Provide a detailed transaction summary with all the information that a user might need to verify the order. Then allow users the ability to correct any errors by providing clear details of how to do so after the purchase.

4) Frictionless Shopping

  • Build consumer-friendly forms. Design screens that can interpret multiple input formats rather than make the user adapt to the app’s limitations. It’s a good idea to also include efficiencies like auto-populate, auto-capitalization, and credit card scanning.
  • Make password authentication a frictionless experience. Reduce the risk of abandonment by minimizing the number of steps required or use different authentication methods such as third-party login or fingerprint touch login.
  • Ask for permissions in-context. Apps should ask for permissions in context and communicate the value that access will provide to prevent users getting stuck.
  • Make customer service information easy to locate. Users tend to look at the bottom of the site or app first when looking for help. Enabling multiple methods of receiving help allows users to choose the best option for them and prevents abandonment.
  • Highlight added values throughout the shopping experience. Retailers that offer added value, such as free shipping or deals, need to reiterate these at every possible point in the shopping experience.

It’s Time to Check Out

Mobile shopping is becoming increasingly standard among connected consumers. It’s no longer enough however, for retailers to merely have a mobile or responsive site or app. You now need to carefully craft the mobile experience based on customer intentions, context and expectations for immediacy. Having a great mobile site or app has become a critical component in not only driving conversations but also building strong brands and meaningful customer relationships.

Brian Solis studies disruptive technology’s impact on business and society. He’s also the author of several books, including X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, exploring the intersection of brand and experience