E-commerce websites for mobile

21 Sep 2009 - 12:52pm
5 years ago
9 replies
1292 reads
Sachin Ghodke
2008

What rules should one follow while designing e-commerce websites for
the mobile? I understand that usability on mobile is extremely
primitive and very difficult. In such a case what are the usability
rules and GUI guidelines one needs to adhere to?

As far as I know that using assisted technologies (Javascript, AJAX,
jQuery, Flash, Flex, etc) would make the experience even more
cumbersome and confusing only because the Mobile has not evolved. The
input methods are rigid to even think of what I want to do with
e-commerce websites for the mobile.

For example: Jakob Nielsen does say: "The phrase "mobile
usability" is pretty much an oxymoron."

Please pardon me if I am using quotes that might offend someone.

Comments

21 Sep 2009 - 12:53pm
Sachin Ghodke
2008

What rules should one follow while designing e-commerce websites for
the mobile? I understand that usability on mobile is extremely
primitive and very difficult. In such a case what are the usability
rules and GUI guidelines one needs to adhere to?

As far as I know that using assisted technologies (Javascript, AJAX,
jQuery, Flash, Flex, etc) would make the experience even more
cumbersome and confusing only because the Mobile has not evolved. The
input methods are rigid to even think of what I want to do with
e-commerce websites for the mobile.

For example: Jakob Nielsen does say: "The phrase "mobile
usability" is pretty much an oxymoron."

Please pardon me if I am using quotes that might offend someone.

21 Sep 2009 - 1:34pm
Thomas Petersen
2008

Depends on what phone(s) you are targeting.

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21 Sep 2009 - 4:29pm
Stephen Holmes
2009

A good starting point would be %u201CUniversal Design for Web
Applications%u201D by Wendy Chisholm and Matt May (O%u2019Reilly
Media Inc. 2009).
They are moving more to the idea of Universal Design, rather than
just Design for Disability, meaning that the focus is moving towards
a broader range of assistive technologies that can help everybody
overcome what is being called situational disabilities %u2013 changes
in one%u2019s abilities based on environment, device type (certainly
fits the limitations of mobile/cell phones), or temporary conditions
caused by using a device in a sub-optimal situation, including:
%u2022 Working on a train or bus on the way to work,
%u2022 Working on a mobile device when waiting in an airport transit
lounge, or
%u2022 Working as a passenger in a car.

Their pitch on using WCAG 2.0 as a starting point is quite valid and
it is one of the few books on any tech subject that you can read from
cover to cover if you have a basic understanding of front-end
development.

http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596518745

Stephen Holmes
stephenwholmes at me.com
Canberra, ACT, Australia

"When you plant a tree, never plant only one. Plant three -- one for
shade, one for fruit, and one for beauty."
-African proverb

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21 Sep 2009 - 10:59pm
Sachin Ghodke
2008

@ Thomas: I was looking at most of the phones. But to me they are
defined by the screen size more than the brand they portray. Today
most of the common phones are iPhone (480 x 320px) and Blackberry. I
have often seen that these are the ones companies usually design
their software or applications for. So i would say, initially i would
like to consider these screen resolution dimensions but would not want
to miss on others. Probably the second most common screen resolution
dimension is 320 x 240px.
@Stephen: Good reference. But here I would like to mention is that my
goal was to look specifically at designing ecommerce websites for
mobile. Does this book provide me a good in depth study for doing
so?

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22 Sep 2009 - 2:57am
Etienne Maujean
2009

You should checkout the new m-commerce site by lufthansa.

mobile.lufthansa.com

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22 Sep 2009 - 2:07pm
Sachin Ghodke
2008

Etienne, Good site, but i think there are a few rigid factors that I
immediately identified. First the site is not catered to all phones.
Of course you cannot do that in today's scenario. I opened the
website on a 240x320px screen on a windows mobile phone v6.1 with
internet explorer as my browser on the phone and it did not show what
I saw in the browser. In Safari on my desktop it does quite a lot.
Fancy buttons and roll overs, tabbed navigation, etc. On my phone,
unh huh not much. Just plain links and vertical navigation. You
should in this case see Opera's mobile website. It's perfect and
opens on my phone pretty fast with all the images intact and
navigation slightly altered (probably due to the complexity of the
simple CSS used).

Having said all this, what I liked about it was it's targeted
approach. The website allowed me to access it only after I had chosen
the country. Now this is right way to go about for a international
airlines website, but this necessary is of course, certainly, not
entire true for e-commerce websites in the promotional space.

These I am finding extremely rigid and tough to come around and
design for ease of use. I am then resorted to making compromise and
let go of certain important links.

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23 Sep 2009 - 1:12pm
Barbara Ballard
2005

On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 5:52 AM, Sachin Ghodke <sachyn.ghodke at gmail.com> wrote:
> What rules should one follow while designing e-commerce websites for
> the mobile? I understand that usability on mobile is extremely
> primitive and very difficult. In such a case what are the usability
> rules and GUI guidelines one needs to adhere to?
>

You first have to decide which of four approaches you are taking:

1) Just let the desktop site do its thing.
2) Least common denominator (or at least XHTML-MP with no Javascript
and few images)
3) High end devices only (iPhone, Android, Opera Mobile, Palm Pre,
maybe Opera Mini)
4) Targeted.

I've seen approaches 2, 3, and 4 work in practice, but it depends on
your brand and your customers.

We almost always do #4; many designers advise only #3.

#4 involves device detection at a minimum ... I can talk about
approaches for #4 for quite some time.

In the meantime, there are lots of resources over at http://design4mobile.mobi

~~~~~
Barbara Ballard
Skype: barbara_ballard
Twitter, Delicious: barbaraballard
email: barbara at littlespringsdesign.com
1.785.838.3003

23 Sep 2009 - 11:57pm
Sachin Ghodke
2008

Approach #1 might not work for me because I am looking at a mobile
solution.
#2 Yes LCD yes, but then CSS will also drive the best available
effects and navigational functionality that I wish to incorporate.
#3 Agree - for me its the high end devices that I am targeting.
#4 The industry is Promotional space. This does require me to give
almost all the tools to the distributors to order from the mobile. I
probably am asking a bit too much for such a cumbersome interface and
physical input needs, but I think a simple, easy to use interface
might just be the thing for me to work with.

And then again - there is this question of security while integrating
a shopping cart and payment gateway in this tiny space. Maybe the link
which you provided needs more attention from me before I execute and
start usability testing.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
..."1) Just let the desktop site do its thing.

2) Least common denominator (or at least XHTML-MP with no Javascript
and few images)

3) High end devices only (iPhone, Android, Opera Mobile, Palm Pre,
maybe Opera Mini)

4) Targeted..."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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24 Sep 2009 - 7:34am
ivandervaeren
2009

Sachyn,

You might want to read some basic specs and best practices on mobile web design first. Here are a few valuable links on the subject:
Mobile Advertising:
http://www.mmaglobal.com/mobileadvertising.pdf

Mobile Commerce Usability:
http://www.getelastic.com/mobile-home-page-navigation/

And then the Dotmobi Developer's Guide (comprehensive):
http://mobiforge.com/starting/story/dotmobi-mobile-web-developers-guide

Hope it helps
Ivan

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