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December 10, 2021

Learn about the most important parts of UX for e-commerce

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Optimising an e-commerce website involves so many elements that we sometimes forget about the target audience and the importance of the uers' first impression when they enter your online store. If you run an e-commerce business, remember that the success of your site depends primarily on the user experience, also known as UX. To build and optimise a profitable online business, it helps to be aware of several best practices. What are these practices, and what can you do to elevate your e-commerce UX to a whole new level?

UX and UI designers are working on a project

In this article, we will focus on e-commerce UX best practices and their application in modern websites – the general rules are the same no matter what kind of business you run. Let's cut right to the chase!

E-commerce UX best practices

User Experience (UX) covers all the elements that increase users' satisfaction by providing accessibility, ease of use, and efficient interactions with an e-commerce website. All this relates to the emotions customers experience when they visit your site.

Generally speaking, a website’s design, general feel, loading speed and functionality are the pillars of a good user experience in every online store. Specifically, it is all about being transparent, accessible, intuitive and focused not on your business but on the end-users needs. Before introducing you to e-commerce UX best practices, let's check what we mean by these practices.

What is e-commerce user experience?

UX refers to the online experiences users have when they visit a website. For an e-shop, UX design and related best practices are based on creating an optimised website to improve browsing the offer, placing an order and sending payment.

Identifying a specific target group is often necessary to offer an individualised user experience tailored to a particular type of visitor's needs and expectations. We talked a lot about that in our article about website personalisation – feel free to check it out!

Minimum UX requirements – for example an intuitive layout, professional photos and videos, reviews, distinctive call to action buttons and a functional search engine – remain the same for all e-commerce websites. Therefore, you could say that improving e-commerce UX design comes down to optimising the website’s structure and functionality so that shoppers feel as comfortable as possible when they visit it.

A handful of statistics

User experience is not just about improved customer satisfaction. Neglecting the UX design in the e-commerce world translates directly to the poor condition of your company's finances and development, as evidenced by numerous statistics and the experience of thousands of marketers.

Here are some of the most interesting UX statistics from the past few months:

  • 46% of customers say they leave the website without placing an order if it's not clear to them what the company does[1]
  • If the website works mainly on desktop and is not mobile-friendly, only 50% of shoppers will use it [2]
  • 74% of customers are likely to return to your site if it’s optimised for mobile devices [3]
  • Slow-loading sites cost advertisers about $2 billion in lost sales each year [4]
  • Every dollar invested in UX design in e-commerce generates a return of up to $100 [5]
  • Implementing best practices focused on user experience can potentially increase conversion rates by up to 400% [6]

These numbers say a lot, don’t they? They show the importance of UX design best practices in the development of enterprises, regardless of what type of business you run. Your customers’ needs have to come first. As Frank Chimero, one of the top UX designers put it:

“People ignore designs that ignore people”.[7]

So let's discover a few tips to prevent customers from ignoring you.

E-commerce sales funnels

A sales funnel is the path that site visitors take from a starting point (typically an ad or a search engine) through the entire purchasing and checkout process. The funnel metaphor captures the idea that visitors are taken from point A to point B and that this path should be as short as possible. The shopping path design should be one of the very first steps in any e-commerce UX design process.

eCommerce sales funnel

Many marketers confirm that sales funnels have a direct impact on conversion rates and sales. A poorly designed checkout page that does not comply with UX best standards can be a real deal-breaker. While there is no perfect sales funnel that you can copy-paste in your company, we can distinguish the following basic stages:

1. Trigger interest The first seconds after each page is displayed are crucial, especially on the home page of your online store. If you don't catch the attention of your visitors at this stage, you have very little chance of catching them later.

2. Determine the needs If a few seconds pass and the visitor is still on your e-commerce website, the first step is done, but it doesn't end there. The next step is to convince shoppers to make a purchase. In order to do that, you have to offer products that will meet their expectations and fulfil their needs. To make sure you understand your customers’ needs, do some research and use tools like Google Analytics to find out: • What products they are interested in • Which sections on your website are the most interesting for them • What their characteristics are

3. Induce trust in users E-commerce sites should induce confidence. To achieve this goal, it is worth taking care of product images, video presentations, relevant content and useful tips that will be of value to your customers. It is also worth considering publishing reviews to enhance an image of a trustworthy business. Trust can also be achieved with popular and reliable payment methods. It's important to analyse that matter from the local perspective. For instance, in Poland BLIK and PayU are popular. In the US, PayPal is your must-have.

4. Provide the customer with content that fits their needs Your product pages and product sheets play a significant role at this stage. The last element of UX e-commerce should take care of getting even more customers’ attention and interest. Therefore, it is worth taking care of a convenient search engine, refined product categories, high-quality product images and engaging product descriptions.

5. Reassure your shoppers The e-commerce UX design and the entire on-page content alone may be insufficient when it comes to placing an order. At this point, you need to reassure the customer once again. Make all the procedures fully transparent and readily available in the event of some questions or doubts in the consumer's mind.

6. Close the sale Now that the customer has entered the shopping cart let them focus on it. From now on, customers should not see any additional distractions. The user should only see the CTA buttons and instructions that guide them through the process to keep everything transparent. After the sale is complete, you can offer shoppers additional products or display a thank-you page.

As you can see, many elements in the e-commerce sales funnel should be taken into account when designing e-commerce websites. A well-designed site should naturally guide buyers from the beginning to the end of the sales funnel.

Now, it's time to present you with some essential UX best practices for e-commerce websites.

Essential e-commerce user experience tips

Building an online store that complies with e-commerce UX best practices and drives high conversion rates is not easy. That is why we have prepared some essential tips for you.

Avoid complicated graphics

The more straightforward and transparent visually your webpage is, the easier it is to use. The design of an e-commerce site should be simple enough not to hinder users from navigating through the subpages. Graphic elements should not be overused. First of all, the project should create the best possible interaction between the user and your website, both on the mobile and desktop versions. An overly aggressive design can quickly irritate users and force them to leave the site without adding anything to a shopping cart.

Navigation, menu and filters – make it easy

The whole navigation with the main menu and filters is at the centre of every e-commerce website, especially on the home page. Your navigation feature must contain links enabling access to various pages and product categories of the website so that visitors don't have to look for what they want too long. The menu should also be designed to be noticeable and accessible.

Furthermore, information architecture and logical categories are crucial. Your product categories should match how customers perceives the products in your offer. Also, sometimes it is important to provide two paths of categorisation. IKEA is a good example here. They categorise products by type and room. It makes a lot of sense and searching becomes far more comfortable!

White space

Commercial website design should be transparent, hierarchical and readable. Appropriate gap management is helpful here. White space allow you to give a whiff of practical minimalism to your website so as not to overwhelm visitors with too much information.

High-quality images

High-quality photos are more efficient in terms of conversion and sales, and also much better for UX best practices. Poor images reflect a lack of investment and care for product presentation. Using low-quality pictures quickly gets your customers thinking: “If a brand doesn't care about pictures and videos on its website, what's the quality of the product itself?”

One of the smartest investments you can make in your e-commerce business relates to proper product presentation. The more detailed the picture, the more attractive the product itself in the customers' eyes and the greater the likelihood that they will place an order.

Use a chatbot to improve customer service

A live chat feature or chatbot is an excellent way to improve your conversion rate. If a visitor needs help or has questions, they can talk to an advisor or chatbot at any given time. This solution can be particularly useful on the checkout page.

According to 99firms.com, online retail has a 34% acceptance rate for chatbots by customers and you can be sure that this rate will only rise over time. The same source indicates that about 37% of people use chatbots to get quick help in an emergency[8].

Take care of the mobile version of your website

Internet users want to browse e-commerce websites as conveniently as social media. Nowadays, we use desktop computers at work, but we spend more and more time on mobile devices. The website's availability for shoppers on both desktop and mobile is an essential part of the user experience and is one of the most critical facets of e-commerce UX.

Make sure your e-commerce store is responsive so that users can access and do online shopping on all their devices. That said, both mobile and desktop versions should be equally well-polished in terms of UX best practices. For example, consider how your product filters will work on mobile devices. Sometimes the mobile version requires specific adjustments, like the additional "apply" button that doesn't exist in the desktop version. It can also be beneficial to add a "go to the top" button. Scrolling a website on a mobile device might become a challenge, especially when you want to go back to the very top of the website. In such a situation, this button might be a TOP feature on your website (pun intended).

If you want to check whether your website is mobile-friendly, use this free tool provided by Google.

UX for product pages

When it comes to the e-commerce industry, product pages are of immense value to your business success. In some instances, they can be even more significant than the homepage. It’s the product page where your customers place an order or decide to leave your store. In order to help them decide to close the deal, you need to please them by providing all the information they need.

E-commerce UX elements that should be on the product pages

If you want to persuade a customer to buy something, the essential elements included in your product page should not be underestimated. The most important part is a straightforward layout, the product name and technical details, a concise and precise product description and high-quality images. It is worth allowing the customer to enlarge the photo to see the details of the item. The product page should contain technical details such as colour, size and product’s availability. The customer should also be able to quickly and easily add their products to the cart.

Enter as much product information into structured attributes. This way, you can easily turn them into filters in your search engine. If the important information lives ONLY in the written product description, it doesn't provide any value during a more advanced search. It's good to categorise products in your offer, for example, by colours and technical parameters (for example membrane for outdoor clothing).

The rest of the items on the product page can be divided into two categories. Let’s call them nice-to-have elements and fancy features. To better understand what these categories correspond to, we have put them together in two lists:

Nice-to-have elements Shoppers generally expect and appreciate these elements when they are present on your e-commerce website. However, in most instances, they are not indispensable to close the deal. Nice-to-have elements are, for example: ● Product reviews and the possibility to filter products by their ratings ● Additional product images (detailed views, animated images of the product in use) ● Product videos ● Related product recommendations ● User-generated content: Product reviews of images or videos from customers ● A wish list

Here’s a good example of a product video:

Fancy features These elements may be useful for some products, but only if they are flawlessly designed with high usability for e-commerce UX. Typically the largest stores and brands use them. Fancy features comprise, for example:

  • Virtual try-on (this feature is available thanks to augmented reality)
  • Voice search and smart assistants
  • The search by image option
  • Subscription purchases
  • Product customisation

Let’s take a look at two examples of such fancy features in action:

Photo of Nike shoe Air Max source: Nike By You

Nike By You is a service allowing to design, build and order your fully personalised Nike sneakers and running shoes. The customisation options are almost endless. And what about AR? More and more online stores use augmented reality to showcase their products in a more interactive way. Take a look at this example from Gucci:

Let users compare products during shopping

Here, it’s important to maintain consistency and logic in the distribution of information. Keep everything transparent and easy to compare. If you have similar products that your users might want to compare, provide all the necessary information. Many stores have a “compare” feature, and they facilitate comparing two or more products.

Support the user and anticipate questions about the product

Your product pages should be a complete source of information about the offered product. Users expect to find the data necessary to make a decision: Characteristics, configuration, price, delivery time, shipping costs, and technical information. Unfortunately, many websites neglect these good e-commerce UX design practices and do not care about the level of information contained in the product pages. For you, it's an easy way to stand out from your competition.

Don't forget CTAs

CTAs (call to action buttons) are one of the most critical components of effective product pages. A good CTA is a button that contrasts with the rest of the e-commerce website without obstructing navigation in any way. CTA phrases on a product page could be:

  • Buy Now
  • Add to Cart
  • Create An Account

What’s important, the call to action button should contrast with the colours used on the site and be high in the page's visual hierarchy.

Boost your website's e-commerce user experience with NoA’s help!

Implementing these guidelines and tips on your website will help you satisfy your customers and attract more traffic. If you need help, feel free to drop us a line! Our goal is always to optimise the conversion process, increase sales and develop our clients’ e-commerce businesses. Find out more today!

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Author

Kamelia Niemczyk

Kamelia is a UX Designer with 6+ years of experience in research and interaction design for international customers. She specializes in solving strategic and operational challenges with a strong focus on team collaboration.

Contact Kamelia: kamelia.niemczyk@noaignite.com

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