March 10, 2016, 11:49 AM

Google is giving mobile developers 50 free design tips

Google released today a research hub for mobile designers and developers that provides tips on mobile app and site development in retail and other verticals.

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Retail mobile sites need to provide multiple payment options. At least, that’s what Google Inc. suggests m-commerce sites do if they want to please the search engine behemoth. And according to research conducted by Google, consumers want the same in mobile sites. Among many other things.   

The above is one of about 50 tips Google released this morning for mobile site and app developers.

The tips are part of a new research hub for mobile designers and developers on its Think with Google digital marketing resource site.

The hub features two in-depth reports, “Mobile Principles of Retail Apps and Sites: Designing a Better Experience for Shoppers” and “25 Principles of Mobile App Design: Engage Users and Drive Conversions.”

To design its shopper tips report, Google conducted a study with more than 100 consumers testing 50 retail apps and sites. Googled worked on the study with AnswerLab, a user experience research and usability testing firm. Since 30% of all online shopping purchases happen on smartphones, according to Google analytics data from September 2015, retailers need to cater to mobile shoppers, Google’s UX research lead Jenny Gove and UX design lead Iram Mirza write in the report.

The mobile site tips are broken down into four parts: exploration and search; product details and reviews; checkout and payments; and frictionless shopping.

Some of the findings in the report are more well-known, such as that developers should ensure the site loads quickly, use spelling auto-correct and predictive text in the search bar, and let consumers checkout as a guest instead of forcing them to sign in. Other tips in the report, however, are less intuitive, such as, don’t let promotions dominate the site, let the consumer control the level of zoom, and display shipping costs and estimated delivery dates on the product page.

“We recommend comparing each principle to your current mobile shopping experience,” Gove and Mirza write in the report. “Note gaps, prioritize fixing them, and start working toward a more delightful mobile shopping experience.”

For the 25 tips in mobile app design report, Google again worked with AnswerLab, and conducted a separate study of more than 100 consumers on their preferences across more than 100 mobile apps in verticals including e-commerce, insurance, travel, food ordering, ticketing, and financial management.

As many as 25% of app users open an app only once and never return, according to an eMarketer article “App Marketing 2015:  Fighting for Downloads and Attention in a Crowded Market” published in July 2015.  And so, marketers need to ensure their brand’s app is delightful and efficient, Gove writes in the report.

The report is divided into app navigation and exploration; in-app search; commerce and conversions; registration; form entry; and usability and comprehensions.

Some of the tips are the same as the retail-specific report while others are unique, but can still be applied to retail apps. For example, Google recommends that apps have a clear differentiation between “sign in” and “sign up” buttons, because consumers often hit the wrong button. Instead, apps should have “sign in” and “register” buttons.

Another tip Google recommends is to enable comparison shopping features, so consumers can compare items side-by-side without forcing them to put an item in their cart and go back later. For example, on a desktop, consumers can look at different products by putting them each in a new tab. In app, retailers should have a compare button or put a previously viewed box on the page to allow easy comparison.  

“On the web, users can get around this by opening additional tabs to compare products,” Gone writes. “In-app comparison features can eliminate the need for these workarounds to help drive consumers’ purchase decisions.”

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