Usability & User Experience of an ecommerce websites – best practices
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If you are still asking yourself why you should look at UX checklist and usability matter at all, here is solid proof:
What works – best practices
The experience of effortlessness is a fundamental goal of successful site design and a key pillar of a successful user experience—one that sums up decades of user research into two dimensions – finding & interacting:
– Customer confidence and
– Ease of use which we can describe in four basic categories:
- Product Page
Build customer confidence through design
B.J. Fogg of Stanford University‘s Persuasive Technology Lab states in his maxim for credible design that
“…to increase the credibility impact of a website, find what elements your target audience interprets most favorably and make those elements most prominent.” Interestingly, Fogg also compares the credibility of a site to its “believability”.
Shoppers want to know whether your site is safe, but also whether their data is safe with you. Ask users what security information is important to them, and whether they can find it. You might find users searching for items such as:
– Display trustmarks..
– Explain the meaning of trustmarks & other safety mechanisms.
– Use familiar layout.
– Customer service availability.
– Comparison shopping.
– Consistent branding, even on third-party payment systems.
– Clearly communicate shipping (or/and other) charges
– Clearly communicate return policy and guarantees
– Address ethical concerns: fair-trade practices, animal testing, humanitarian or charity campaigns.
Make it easy & convenient
Any effort to help users make a more rational decision – especially while they‘re shopping – reflects positively on your site. It indicates your willingness to be fair and increases your overall trustworthiness.
“On e-commerce sites, up to 30% of visitors will use the site search box…”
Include a way for customers to filter their search results by category or feature to eliminate problem of relevancy of search results. An ecommerce search engine should let users search by keyword and then refine results based on the categories your site includes. Let users sort their search results based on standard criteria (most popular, highest or lowest price, newest item, etc.) as well as eliminating items that don’t fit within a certain category. Users should be able to find products quickly, and with a minimum of cognitive effort.
Think through your categories and navigation elements carefully before you start putting products in your catalog. Make sure that every category has at least a few products in it, or else group smaller categories together (or include them in larger, similar categories). Make it easy for customers to look through different categories. Few guidelines to follow when designing navigation:
– Use familiar (structured) layout and familiar (short but descriptive) terminology.
– Differentiate and group (categories) navigation elements
– Content preview (if possible)
– Use a clickable ‘List of Contents’ on long pages
– Use breadcrumb navigation
– Place navigation at the top
– Implement drop-down menus
– Avoid drop-down menus with more than two levels.
– Use clear headings. To show users which links fall into related sets you can use headings to group them together
– The Availability of the Browser Back Button
– Speed – make sure page loads quickly
– Focus on the product and its story.
– Include all necessary product information
– Images/videos. Include video or more than one high-quality photograph of the product that user can zoom in.
– User reviews/rating & opinions
– Offer flexibility and interaction. Make sure user has a option to change color, size, quantity, etc
– Related products
– Include shipping rates
– Include store policies
– Call to action (buy now, add to shopping basket)
– Do not make customers to register
– Identify users with their e-mail address rather than a username
– Offer variety of payment methods (not too much).
– Simplify each step of ordering process & break up the ordering process into bite size chunks (less to think about at each step and less information to enter). Checkout sample steps: Login ->Choose delivery address->Choose delivery options->Enter payment details->Review and submit the order
– Include Breadcrumbs. Tell users where they are and where they’re going
– Answer common user queries. Users might want to know how long delivery is likely to take, or if they have to enter extra information such as their date of birth, they might want to know why this is.
– Make sure Input form has inline field validation (life as user is typing)
– Highlight required fields (e.g. red * – this fields must be completed)
– Make sure error handling is well designed
– Lock-in (removing footer/header). Locking customers into the checkout process, and helping them focus on the task at hand by removing distractions.
– The Gift Giving Experience. The gift giver has unique needs during shipping, such as the ability to add a personalized note, the option to have the gift wrapped, and perhaps the need to ship items from one order to multiple addresses.
– Do Not Display Unsolicited Windows or Graphics or pop ups
– Ready for printing
– Ask to confirm order details before submitting & communicate order status after. Users should be able to see a summary of their order, including how much it will cost and where it will be delivered to. They should then either be able to cancel or place the order.) After submitting the order user should know whether their order was successful or not. This should include information such as:
#The expected delivery date
#The order number
#How to track the order online (if this is possible)
– Send a confirmation e-mail. Confirmation e-mails should:
#Tell users what they are likely to want to know, such as the order number
#Should be a real customer service ambassador for the company
What works – best practices example
In, Change Sciences April 2013 asked consumers interested in purchasing a tablet device to interact with leading e-commerce sites and share their experiences. According to eMarketer projections, consumers will spend $24B on their tablets this year, rising to a staggering $61B in 2016. Although the focus is on tech e-commerce web sites, many of the findings from this research are relevant to any consumer-oriented e-commerce web site.
Despite Apple’s sleek and simple approach to design, people were 20% less successful finding and buying a tablet on its site compared to top performer Amazon, and 18% less successful than on Walmart.com.
About half of the e-commerce sites are less usable than the average of the top 10%. On e-commerce sites that scored below the top 10%, users took 13 seconds longer to complete a shopping task. These sites scored 10% less usable on average. Improving usability should be a key goal for a number of e-commerce sites, where even the smallest improvement in UX may reap rewards.
Amazon‟s patented 1-Click checkout illustrates how simplicity can be the cornerstone of effective e-commerce. Customers can make purchases with a single click using previously entered payment details and delivery address (from 2009 also on mobile). While other e-commerce vendors (such as Apple iTunes) now license the 1-click approach, this philosophy of simplicity goes beyond one-click payment and can be applied to all elements of checkout design from registration to order confirmation.
The anatomy of a great shopping cart
What customers want in an eCommerce site?
If you are shopping from a retailer you don’t know well, how would you decide whether to trust the website?
What information do you need to see on product pages to help you decide whether to make a purchase?
Once you are in the checkout process, what would deter you from completing the purchase?
After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase?
% who Percentage experienced each stumbling block
2008 Forrester report is bluntly titled “Required Registration Lowers Online Conversion Rates“.
Change Sciences “E-commmerce Web Site User Experience” June 2013 Trending Report
Five Domensions of User Experience. Balancing business and user experience perspectives to create successful e-commerce sites. Human Factors International. Phil H. Goddard / VP Western Region
Sean McLeary / Project Director, with Douglas Gorney / Senior Writer, Human Factors International, Inc.
Econsultancy “E-commerce Best Practice Compedium, 170 tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates
Download extended PDF version (with research details) here.