Currently, the scope of e-commerce is far from what it was a decade ago. Thanks to the technological boom driven by innovation and expertise, and people's quest for making their lives better every day. All these aspects collectively make e-commerce an indispensable part of the web, which needs enhancement to grow, prosper and succeed. Lately, people have become more accustomed to shopping online, especially using mobile devices. In fact, these online sites that exist over the web have made shopping easier for people more than ever.
User experience is one of the most vital aspects of any e-commerce store that decides whether the user would stay or leave. Yes, this exactly means that the biggest challenge for any e-commerce website would be to convert its visitors into buyers – who would, later on, transform into long-term customers. So unless you have embedded the awesomeness of a great user experience within your e-commerce website design, it could have a negative impact on your business online.
A not-so-good user experience would result in your users choosing one of your peers, who undoubtedly offer an out-of-the-box user experience, as they expect. Also, this can have an impact on your search engine rankings, as Google loves to list only those sites that are easily navigable and relevant.
As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain simply, you don’t understand well enough.” This means that unless you have a clear idea of what you are doing, how do you expect to make a neat and sophisticated design, which your people would find easier and hassle-free to deal with.
It is important to understand why people shop online before you start to design an online store for them. The ease of shopping from anywhere at any time, with just a click on a button is what drives them to the store on the web, rather than picking up a local store to shop for their needs. It is important that each and every feature and functionality, including browsing, comparison of items/goods and checkout should be contoured and optimized in a simplified and clear manner, thereby ensuring that the people can make seamless purchase decisions without going through any complicated processes.
User experience, directly or indirectly, affects a user’s decision to make a purchase or not. Let us take a look at some of the best user experience design practices for your e-commerce store:
It is important to understand what exactly is customer-centricity before aligning your UX design in line with that.
The process involved in building your product or service on the basis of the needs and concerns or challenges faced by your customers is what customer-centric design is all about. It is important to make the customer experience as easy, enjoyable and convenient as possible. When you succeed in offering a great customer experience, the customers are automatically obliged to share positive reviews about the wonderful experience they have had with your brand.
It would be great if you could help your customers realize how important they are to your business. This can be by rewarding them - you can always reward your shoppers for their interest in your business.
When you send messages to your customers, personalize these on the basis of what they buy - also you could customize these further in a way you understand they would like it (depending on the analysis of user behavior they exhibited while on your site). There are intelligence aides that can help you analyze user behavior and enhance it further to make the experience seamless. It is observed that companies that provide customized and relevant communications in line with customer preferences are way ahead in their user experience strategies that never run out of choice to make a mark when it comes to pleasing people.
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Organizing your products in the right order and also ensuring that you can provide as many options as you can for each product is mandatory. This would help your customers to make a better choice.
It might not be possible for a company that specializes in only one particular product to offer a large number of options, but they can always ensure that they have enough stocks of the product their business intends to sell.
It is important to leverage promotions on items that are constantly purchased by your customers (you can actually keep a track of the items that are most moving and promote these more). So it is one of the interesting customer-centric tactics that most of the successful businesses are implementing to improve customer experience.
Emotional quotient is another factor that is most important when it comes to establishing customer-centricity in any business. It is important to listen to what your customers have got to say or what their query is with regard to your service or product. Once you know what their concerns are, the next step is to help them in all ways possible. This is always a two-way process and not one way, it is equally important that you respond as is getting your customers to engage with you.
Role of horizontal filtering
The presence of the vertical sidebar filtering interfaces on the left-hand side is something that you can commonly find across most e-commerce websites. But recently, the horizontal toolbar has been gaining prominence. Some of the reasons why it is a good UX practice are listed below:
The filters provide a higher level of flexibility not only with checkboxes and links but also with sliders, paragraphs, and tables.
Filters appear as user scrolls
This horizontal navigation can be pinned to the page, which makes the filters appear as the user starts scrolling, rendering a better user experience.
Utilizes the entire page width
With left-hand navigation, a large part of the page is taken over, but with horizontal filtering, you can actually focus on bigger visuals as well as implement more information that is useful.
Mobile and tablet friendly
Horizontal filtering allows you, as a designer, to take advantage of the full width of a page because it offers a wonderful flexibility with mobile and tablet devices.
Simplifying the path
It is important that whenever a customer comes to your site, they must not feel lost or confused. This could arise due to some common mistakes, such as illegibility arising from thin fonts or the use of low contrast. It is imperative to introduce smooth navigation options to make the process easier for your customers.
Also, make sure that the checkout process has been optimized to make it easy and simple for your customers to use. While making purchases on your e-commerce site, don’t keep them short of options – let them either make the purchases as a guest or willingly register as a returning customer. You can include a bar informing them of the steps they have to move through before completing the final checkout.
Decreasing page load time
Delay in page load time is a frustrating aspect of any website design, which adds to the bad user experience practices. Imagine the dismay of a user who comes to your site to make a purchase, but is kept waiting because your site takes all the time in the world to load. In fact, a delay by a single second can lead to a decrease in conversion rate by 7%. But 40% of visitors might choose to stay back for another 3 seconds of time, after which they will also leave.
Ensure that your site doesn’t take too long to load. Test it across various browsers, devices and make sure that it loads instantly. You could adopt a better hosting plan, minimize external scripts, use caches and compress images to prevent your page from loading too slow.
What are your product filtering options like?
You need to provide visitors with a clean and sophisticated outline or impression of your goods once they land upon your site, as this helps them to understand your store or business better. Help them make their search more specific and personalized.
This search process can be further simplified by providing your customers with the provision to combine filters, on the basis of factors, such as gender, prize, delivery time, color, size or other related options as available. In the end, regardless of whatever filters they choose to combine, your goal is to ensure that the customers have finally found what they wanted.
Site should be secure
Google has been reminding constantly regarding the need for securing a site using HTTPS, which is the more secure form of HTTP. To imply the importance of HTTPS further, Google has made sure that it is one of the factors, which can affect search engine rankings if not implemented. Though HTTPS is a crucial deciding factor for your e-commerce site’s security, still it needs more than HTTPS to secure your site. Sometimes, consumers happen to abandon a purchase decision because they couldn’t find the relevant trust seals, which means it is imperative that you have the necessary approvals from all those third-party companies.
Also, apart from these seals, it is important that you provide clear links to your customer services within each page on your site. Ensure that you are not hiding anything related to your site’s security and privacy policies from your customers.
Size of your images
This is one of the factors that affect your consumers’ purchase decisions – show them what they will buy, but make it convincing. So implementing big product images will help your user to dig deeper into the specifications of any item. You can also include multiple images of this product from various dimensions and angles. But make sure that all your product images are of high quality, providing insights into the functionalities and other details of your product, which your customer needs to know about.
Options for comparison
It is important that you include transparency in your designs. All you have to do is not to cram in a lot of multiple product descriptions within your pages. This can be made simple by requesting or advising the user to click on a product to find out further about it. Let this lead them to a new page with more information and images, if it helps.
This can be further enhanced by implementing micro-interactions, which give the impression that the product images are clickable. Also, do include all those elements of comparison, including user ratings and reviews, which help customers to learn the thoughts of other users, who have already purchased this specific product.
If your site specializes in the sale of similar items - provide your users with an option to compare both these products in separate windows, which would help them further to arrive at an appropriate purchase decision.
Deals, discounts, subscriptions and more
The truth is each and every person who visits your site is not here to make a purchase. So what are you going to do? But as a business, there are certain aspects of your design that you can use to reach them out again when they do not return. A lot of things happen when a customer visits your site - some browse and leave, while some create a shopping cart, but leave without checking out.
However, they will always come back if you know what are the factors that can do the work - try including recapture tactics, such as email notifications or SMS, which will notify them about your online store and the variety of goods or items that you specialize in, and suppose if they left without checking out, it would serve as a reminder of their goods awaiting them to return. Also, you can offer special deals, discounts or coupons to attract them to your site, and persuade them to go ahead and make a purchase.
Keep product information and CTAs to minimal
No one has the time or patience to read through huge chunks of information - so when it comes to product descriptions, keep those short and clear.
Given below are some tips to refrain from crowding your site with a lot of unnecessary product information:
Who are your target audiences?
It is important that you have a clear idea about your target audiences before you strategize your content copy. Put yourself in their shoes - think of what they would prefer. What would make them click, what would stop them from placing an order or why would they make a purchase from your store? If the content copy that you develop is capable of arousing their interest and keep them keen on learning further about your products, and how it would be of use to them, then you have accomplished a major part of your goal.
Leave room for scanning through your descriptions
As we discussed we cannot expect users to read through every word on a page, but it is essential that they scan through the most important points - you can do this by creating descriptions with clear headings, subheading and breaking down large paragraphs into smaller sentences or bullet points.
Creating the perfect call to actions (CTAs)
Ensure that your CTA is capable of persuading your users to take the specific action. In order to accomplish this, you should have a creative and interesting CTA that will automatically prompt your user to click on it.
Mobile is important
While you take care of all the afore-mentioned UX aspects, do not forget to ensure that your e-commerce site is optimized for mobile devices, as this is one of those places where most people choose to shop.
UX cannot be ignored
When you have all these best UX practices combined, you are actually working toward offering a delightful user experience to your people, which would be beneficial to your business in the long run. It will attract, create leads, potential prospects, generate conversions and help in customer retention.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please comment in the box below. We would love to hear from you.