User experience (UX) is fundamental to the success of any e-commerce business. If your UX is bad, people won’t want to (or be able to) use your website – it’s as simple as that – and with no offline touchpoints, if this ends up being the case, your sales will plummet. So, let’s look at some of the key UX principles that every e-commerce business should consider.
As with any aspect of marketing, to maximise the effectiveness of your UX, you need complete market research to ensure you have a strong understanding of the needs and motivations of the people that matter the most: your customers. To be effective, your site should be catered to the wants and preferences of your audience. For example, you may find your target audience values customer feedback, in which case you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of customer testimonials clearly visible on relevant pages across your site. Equally, different customers have different search priorities and methods, so you’ll want to ensure you are aware of these so you can add the most relevant filter options and categories to your e-commerce site.
Another key area of market research to consider is competitor analysis. The key here is to identify any areas of weakness and mistakes your competitors have made so you can avoid them. Equally, you will also want to analyse what works well for other e-commerce sites and identify any trends within your market that seem to resonate well with your audience. To put it simply: take inspiration from what works well and learn lessons from others’ failures.
Simplicity is key
Although it may be tempting to create an elaborate, technically amazing site if your customers don’t know how to use it, what’s the point? As humans, we generally don’t like change; we prefer to keep things simple and predictable – and that’s exactly what your e-commerce site should be.
Of course, some aspects of your site will allow you to be more creative, but when it comes down to the fundamentals, you need to stick to the basics. There are certain things that your audience will expect to see – such as a home button and an on-site search bar – and they should always be clearly presented and easy to use.
Slow and steady won’t win this race
Whilst the tortoise may have benefitted from taking a slow approach, one thing that won’t is your website. The loading speed of your site not only impacts your SEO, but will also affect your sales. Slow-loading sites have caused retailers to lose $2.6 billion in sales per year – and that’s not something you want to be a part of. There are several elements that can impact your site speed, including unoptimised images and a high number of redirects. If you want to know more about your site speed and possible improvements that can be made, Google offers a free tool to do so which can be found here.
Like Hansel and Gretel, e-commerce customers love breadcrumbs. They are used to help people navigate back through different levels efficiently and easily and encourage users to stay on your site. Oh, and they are great for SEO as they help Google to navigate and categorise your website. Win, win!
Save the day
Most people can store around 5 things in their working memory at one time, so providing your customers with the option to save items and come back to them at a later date can really help your sales.
85% of people say a company’s mobile site should perform the same or better than the desktop site – so it’s pretty important. And it’s no surprise, with 63% of retail visits coming from mobile devices. So, how can you make sure your mobile site is effective?
- Ensure text and CTA buttons are large enough to be read and used effectively on the smaller screens of mobile devices
- Use clickable telephone numbers
- Make use of tabs to make content-heavy pages more manageable
- Where possible, auto-populate data for your customers
- Use Responsive web design
Whilst good design doesn’t automatically mean good UX, bad design will almost always mean bad UX – so it’s essential to get it right. Although we have grown up being told “don’t judge a book by its cover”, when it comes to your website, that’s exactly what your customers are doing. In fact, to such an extreme that it takes an average of just 0.05 seconds for a user to determine whether or not they want to stay on your site, and 94% of these first impressions are design-related – so, engaging design really is key.
From making use of different colours and fonts to ensure CTA buttons are clear, to ensuring all of your products are accompanied with high-quality images, you need to build a professional and trustworthy image for your business as this will really influence people’s perceptions of your business and products, and ultimately impact your sales.
Don’t be greedy
Whilst it can be tempting to use your checkout as a way to push customers to sign up to your mailing list and get as much data as you possibly can, generally, it’s something you’ll want to avoid. Providing the option for users to check out as a guest, auto-populating as much data as possible, minimising the number of required fields, breaking the checkout process up into multiple pages (putting the engaging stuff first) and adding a progress tracker are all things you can do to help increase conversions.
With a staggering 88% of people saying that they would be unlikely to return to a site if they had a bad experience, your UX really needs to be prioritised. If you are looking to learn more about UX, you can check out our ultimate guide here or if you are interested in hearing more about the services we can offer your e-commerce business, visit our e-commerce page here.