Guest Post By Sean McGowan, Codal Inc
If you run an ecommerce site, you probably already know all about conversion rate. The benchmark metric of success for all online retailers, conversion simply describes the act of transforming a visitor into a customer.
But what you might not know about conversion rate is how heavily it is influenced by the UX (user experience).
It doesn’t matter if you have the highest-quality products at the most affordable price—if potential customers can’t seamlessly interact with your site, they remain just that: potential.
So what is UX? It’s a concept that’s hard to define, but obvious when you see it. It’s more than just an aesthetically pleasing color scheme, or an appealing graphic.
UX encompasses how a user thinks, feels, and ultimately acts, when browsing a website or app. A site with excellent UX smoothly guides you to exactly what you’re looking for. It seems to respond to your every thought and whim. It has the answer before you even know the question.
We’ve all experienced sites with fantastic UX. Great UX is easy enough to recognize, but it can often be difficult to understand and implement if you’re not knowledgeable in the field.
UX is a powerful tool for conversion, but when wielded improperly, it can have disastrous effects. A quality UX design company understands this fact. They know that if your ecommerce site has poor user experience design, your conversion rate WILL nosedive.
To avoid this, I’ve provided a brief list of common mistakes that retailers make when designing their online stores. Paired with each faux pas is a piece of actionable advice, to help boost your store’s conversion rate with quality UX.
1) Getting Too Creative
That isn’t a typo. It may seem counter-intuitive, but too many times designers cripple the UX of a site with needlessly creative design.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for your site to stand out, to make a lasting impression, and to connect with the consumer. But getting too creative often just confuses visitors. When it comes to usability, conventionality is king.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the homepage for Bolden, a design and development company that forgoes convention to showcase creativity, with the result being...less than effective.
Yikes. To decipher this mess, the user has to navigate to the corner of the page, which then transforms the homepage to read:
It’s certainly a creative design, but it is absolutely poor UX.
So use standard design practices that users are already familiar with, ones they’ve seen a million times, at all of the other e-commerce sites they’ve visited.
Don’t put your company’s logo anywhere but the top left corner. Don’t link it to anywhere else but your home page. Don’t place your nav-bar and search bar somewhere the user can’t find it.
Why? Because that’s the opposite of what everyone else does, which will simply confuse the user, worsening their experience on your site.
Stick to standard symbolism: a gear or wrench for settings, three horizontal lines stacked vertically for a menu, a magnifying glass for a search bar.
Remember, online shoppers are fickle, with short attention spans and even shorter patiences. All it takes is one inconvenience, one poor UX design technique, and they’re gone, taking their money with them.
2) Ignoring The Second Most Important Page
It’s common knowledge that your home page is the single most important piece of your website. It's the keystone, the hub, the core of the entire e-commerce experience you want to provide. Your UX design should focus heavily on the homepage.
But another common mistake designers make is ignoring the second most important facet of your e-commerce site: the product pages. Take a look at this egregiously poor example of a product page below.
It is the product page, not the home page, that the visitors of your site will spend the most time on. It is thus of the utmost importance that your product pages have flawless UX design.
To begin, that means comprehensive product descriptions. Your product description should answer any and every query a customer may have, from size measurements to warranties.
That’s a significant amount of information, so be sure it’s presented in an aesthetically pleasing, visually digestible fashion. Nobody wants read enormous blocks of paragraphs when they can simply scan for the facts they need to know.
Second, go big on the product photos. Whether its due to higher resolutions or expanding screen sizes, consumers want high-quality, detailed product photos. Don’t forget to offer a variety of shots as well, so that customers can see the product from different angles.
It may not be your home page, but a well-designed product page is a sure-fire way to boost conversion. Ignore it, and your site will suffer.
3) Not Being Transparent Enough
Often times, designers are so focused on the product pages or checkout process, they forget to inject credibility and transparency into the user experience.
These are crucial elements for optimal UX. While ecommerce has skyrocketed in recent years, many people still have qualms with online shopping, fearing scams, their identity stolen, fraudulent websites, and the privacy of their financial information.
Being transparent means prominently displaying your contact information, making it simple for a client to contact you with any concerns. It’s also prudent to feature testimonials and customer reviews, to show that real people interacted with your site (and had a positive experience).
It also means not disguising any taxes, shipping and handling charges, or other fees attached to the purchase of your product. Customers don’t want to be surprised when they head to checkout, only to see the price of their item has increased significantly.
4) Needlessly Complicating Checkout
The infographic below shows the most common reasons why online buyers abandon their shopping carts. Shopping cart abandonment is a heavily researched phenomenon in the study of conversion, with over 65% of shoppers filling up their cart, only to exit the page.
Of the top culprits behind an abandoned shopping cart, four of them occur in the checkout process. It is the final obstacle to overcome when converting a visitor to a customer.
Because of this, quality UX design in the checkout process is absolutely crucial. When tailoring your checkout for optimal UX design, be sure to include the following:
1. A Guest Checkout Feature
Responsible for 14% of abandoned carts, customers want to purchase their product quickly, without the hassle of creating an account and entering personal information.
2. Keep Form-Filling To A Minimum
In a similar vein to the guest checkout feature, your checkout process should avoid asking customers to fill out several forms. Buyers do not want to undergo the time-consuming task of inputting every aspect of their personal info. To create a checkout with better UX design, ask for the essentials only, or even pre-fill the form.
3. Checkout Progress Tracker
To add transparency to the checkout, break down the process into discrete steps, and display what step a buyer is on. Without a progress checker, you risk a potential customer becoming fatigued with the checkout process, and abandoning their cart.
5) Stopping At The Sale
Congrats! Thanks to your well-crafted UX, you’ve transformed a visitor into a customer and boosted your conversion rate. Your design work is done, right?
Wrong. The best UX companies recognize that the customer’s interaction with an ecommerce site is far from over. Do not neglect the functionality of your online store post-purchase.
Let’s start with the obvious: a customer will want to track their package.
Your site should not only provide a tracking function, it should also include a progress bar that can deliver daily updates on the location and status of a package. Be sure to emphasize the statistic the customer cares about the most: the estimated delivery date.
And while the customer has returned to your site to track their order, why not recommend other products that might interest them? Amazon does this masterfully with their “customers who bought this also purchased” feature, and even their simple “buy it again” button.
When you cater to a customer after a sale has been made, you provide a richer experience; that customer is much more likely to patron your ecommerce store again.
Learning From Mistakes
The best ecommerce sites all have one thing in common: well-crafted UX design. No matter the product, the sector, the market you’re tapping—without a stellar user experience, your online store will not perform to its full potential.
Quality UX is the magic wand that transforms visitors to customers—what’s stopping you from using it?