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What is mobile optimization, and why should you care?

These days, smartphones and tablets are practically attached to our hands. They’re our trusty sidekicks – keeping our contact lists close, giving us access to email, and helping us kill time, whether posting a status update or shopping online for a new pair of shoes.

In fact, people are spending more time on their phones than ever before – as much as three hours a day, which is more time than they spend watching TV.1 The tide has officially shifted. Given the popularity of smartphones and tablets, it’s more important than ever to ensure your business’s website is easy to use on mobile devices. That’s where mobile optimization comes in.

Mobile optimization defined

Put simply, mobile optimization is just what it sounds like: optimizing your website so customers can easily browse, select, and buy your products from the device of their choice. From a development standpoint, there are three ways to create a site that will work on mobile:

  1. Responsive web design

    Probably the simplest approach, this method produces ONE website (that is, one URL, one set of HTML, etc.) that works no matter what device or size screen it’s viewed on. Responsive web design leverages things like fluid grid layouts for your pages, flexible images that resize, and media queries that trigger different CSS style rules. Done right, the end result is one site that will automatically flow and scale to adjust to the device it’s viewed on.

  2. Dynamic serving

    This takes the above one step further by actually serving up TWO sets of code (essentially, two different websites) depending on the viewing device, for an even more targeted experience for mobile shoppers. Your domain name (URL) stays the same.

  3. Mobile website

    Mobile sites use a completely different domain name (and HTML, etc.) for mobile shoppers. If you’ve ever seen a URL like “m.domain.com,” you’re on a mobile site. An app can easily be created to launch it.

Mobile design

No matter which method is used, there are several “rules” to follow that will result in a better experience for mobile users. Mobile sites should:

  • Require less scrolling, data entry, taps/clicks, and zooming
  • Feature easy-to-find “Add to cart” and “Checkout” buttons
  • Support a wide range of devices – iPhones, Android phones, various tablets, etc.
  • Use buttons that are big enough to tap easily on a small touchscreen
  • Keep image use to a minimum, because images increase the time it takes for a page to load
  • Use a simple payment process that requires less data entry; fewer checkout steps means fewer abandoned carts
  • Implement strong mobile security
  • Offer universal sign-in between PCs and wireless devices to seamlessly integrate both shopping methods

Finally, your site should ask for as little new information as possible from existing customers. They should be able to check out with just their username and password – don’t ask them to re-enter their credit card, shipping, and billing information. PayPal’s payment processing, for example, does exactly that: customers only need to log in to their PayPal accounts to complete a purchase in two clicks.

These are just some of the steps you can take to streamline your customers’ mobile experience. But is it worth it to implement these changes?

The importance of mobile optimization

Mobile optimization isn’t just a nice thing to do for your customers. It’s also a smart business move. Recent research shows that consumers are increasingly comfortable buying from mobile devices. In fact, they’re buying almost as much on mobile devices as they are on desktops,2 and in 2014, Black Friday sales saw a 62 percent increase in mobile eCommerce volume.4

Based on those facts, it’s clear that businesses will benefit from changing the way their websites work in order to keep up with the changes in how consumers are shopping. Another factor to consider is that a consumer’s mobile experience with a company could potentially affect their shopping habits offline and on their desktop computer. Meaning, if a customer has a hard time using your website on his mobile device, he might abandon your site in favor of a competitor’s. It might also color his opinion of your company when it comes to future purchases – even those made in-store or via a home computer.

Basically, the key to mobile optimization is that you want your customers to be happy with their mobile shopping experience, because then they’ll be more likely to come back again in the future.

Part of creating a great mobile shopping experience is ensuring your checkout process works seamlessly for mobile users. And PayPal can help.

Round out the mobile commerce experience with help from PayPal

At PayPal, we get it: Mobile shoppers are vital to your business. That’s why our checkout products are mobile-optimized. All versions – Express Checkout, PayPal Payments Standard, and PayPal Payments Pro – will detect a shopper’s device and automatically optimize the payment experience for them.

In fact, a recent study of 1,300 participants, done by SurveyMonkey, found that consumers are most likely to use PayPal as their mobile payment service. It also showed that PayPal has the highest mobile payment awareness and consideration in the industry.4 The takeaway: offering PayPal on your mobile site is a must have for capturing sales from on-the-go shoppers.

Because our functionally is already baked in, there are no additional fees or charges. Plus, our checkout products are easy for you to set up and deliver a seamless, secure payment experience for your customers – whether they choose to pay with PayPal or a credit card.

We understand the importance of making your checkout process intuitive for all customers, including those on mobile devices and we have the offerings to help make it possible. Visit paypal.com/business for more information about our products, and check out the PayPal Demo Portal to see exactly what the payment experience looks like on a mobile device.