10 Best Practices for eCommerce UX

Posted / 29 July, 2021

Author / Enginess

10 Best Practices for eCommerce UX

Developing dazzling UX design for all kinds of websites, from large enterprise sites to association membership pages, to the sites of small service-based businesses is all-important but in eCommerce, UX encompasses every part of the customer experience from the second a user lands on your page, to the moment they purchase a product. We dive into how to build a great user experience to increase sales for your eCommerce business.

We talk a lot about the general importance of investing in dazzling UX design for all kinds of websites, from large enterprise sites, to association membership pages, to the sites of small service-based businesses.

But in this post, we’re going to cover one specific type of site where a strong UX can make an enormous difference: eCommerce websites.

In eCommerce, UX encompasses every part of the customer experience from the second a user lands on your page, to the moment they purchase a product, to their post-purchase experience.

And your UX can make or break your eCommerce site. A great experience can nudge users to purchase, inspire confidence in your company, and forge strong relationships between brands and their customers. A bad eCommerce user experience can lead to a high bounce rate, confused site visitors, low conversion rates, and disgruntled customers.

So how can you build a strong UX for your eCommerce site? Here’s our list of the ten best practices for eCommerce UX.

1) Use clear and prominent CTAs

Calls-to-action is one of the keys to eCommerce success: they , help users navigate your site, and highlight the products you want your users to discover. But not all CTAs are created equal. A good CTA should:

  1. Look clickable and stand out from the rest of the page
  2. Clearly communicate what happens next
  3. Nudge your users to take action (like ‘shop now’ or ‘add product to cart’) 

Nudge your users to take action (like ‘shop now’ or ‘add product to cart’) 

CTAs are powerful tools, but they can also be overwhelming if they’re used too much. Focus on keeping things simple and streamlined: by paring down the number of CTAs on each site page, you can keep your customers focused on completing the specific task that you want to encourage at that moment in the user journey. Want your users to shop for a new product line? Tell them that with one punchy CTA button, and save all your other asks for later.

2) Streamline your checkout process

A clunky checkout process is a major reason that users abandon online purchases. If the process takes too long—or if it fails to disclose important information—users tend to jump ship.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to optimize the checkout process:

  1. Use clear progress indicators (e.g. numbered steps or stages) during your checkout flow so that users know how long the process will take
  2. Use short forms that clearly indicate optional vs. required information
  3. Enclose the checkout process (and remove distractions) to keep users focused on completing their purchase
  4. Provide clear information about shipping costs upfront (this is a big one—over 70 percent of users said they abandon the checkout process when they encounter hidden charges like shipping fees.)

3) Don’t force users to register

Allowing users to checkout as guests are one of the biggest UX boosts you can give to your checkout process. If you force customers to create an account, you inject unnecessary friction into the purchasing process. And that decreases the likelihood that users will complete their purchase: 1 in 4 customers say they abandon a purchase if they’re forced to register with a site.

The ‘checkout as guest’ option is a famously effective way to boost eCommerce conversions—just take a look at the story of the .

4) Make it mobile-friendly

Mobile users tend to navigate eCommerce sites differently than desktop users. On mobile, users are usually looking for something very specific, and they want to find it quickly.

So the priority should be to shorten and streamline the mobile user journey as much as possible. You can do this by adopting things like:

  1. Sticky navigation bars
  2. Pop-ups that are adapted to the mobile experience
  3. Click-to-call buttons
  4. Click-to-scroll buttons
  5. Pinch-and-zoom features

5) Provide intuitive navigation and a strong search tool

An estimated 60 percent of online purchases are not impulse buys—they’re planned, and the customers behind them already know what they’re looking for when they land on your site. They don’t want to spend endless hours scrolling through all of your awesome products to find the one thing they know they’re after.

That’s where intuitive navigation comes in—it allows your customers to complete their desired actions without friction, confusion, or unnecessary interruptions.

Navigation can be a tricky thing to nail with eCommerce, but there are some basic principles to keep in mind:

  1. Keep your homepage streamlined and simple
  2. Stick to a clear navigational structure from the get-go (most eCommerce sites opt for horizontal navigation)
  3. Use clear and legible labels
  4. Have your team map the user journey to identify any sticking points

And, most importantly, make sure that you always have a strong and functional internal search tool available for your users.

6) Use high-quality product images and strong descriptions

One challenge that eCommerce sites will always have (at least until virtual reality really takes off) is bridging the gap between the online and real-world shopping experience.

In a brick-and-mortar store, you can try things on. You can see and touch them. You can get a pretty good feel for the product you’re about to buy. But the online shopping experience is limited on all those fronts.

That’s where good photos (and ) help. Your product photos should not only cover the basics of quality (think high-resolution images and good lighting). They should also show as many different elements of the product as possible: shots of the product from different angles, close up images of its texture, photos of the product in use, and in-scale images.

Informative product descriptions are also key here. Photos can only provide so much information. Users also need clear, well-written product descriptions that assure them that your product is the right fit.

7) Highlight your site’s security

Thanks to a handful of high-profile eCommerce security breaches, users are more aware than ever of their potential vulnerability online. So, building up credibility and trust has become one of the most important UX tasks for eCommerce sites.

Luckily, this is relatively straightforward to do. Displaying your security badges in a prominent place on your site is an effective (not to mention quick and easy) way to signal to your customers that you take their safety seriously. It’s also a good idea to write a clear security policy that’s easy for customers to find.

8) Include user-generated content

Time to harness the power of psychology. Social proof psychology tells us that when people feel uncertain about a decision, they turn to other people for guidance, looking for the kind of ‘social proof’ that can validate their choices and persuade them to take action.

In the eCommerce world, social proof comes in the form of user-generated content—from testimonials and case studies to user reviews, to photos taken by other customers (which 77 percent of consumers say they prefer to professional photographs.)

Making this kind of user-generated content a prominent feature of your product pages can be a powerful tool for driving conversions.

9) Embrace personalization

Some of the most recognizable eCommerce giants (most notably Amazon) have worked to personalize the eCommerce user experience in super effective ways. They track their customers’ preferences and observe their purchase histories in order to provide lists of ‘recommended product’ or to showcase the items that ‘customers also bought’.

These kinds of personalization features help users find their desired product faster. And they can nudge customers to complete their purchase. But they also add a personal touch to the buying process by building deeper and more personal-feeling relationships between customers and brands.

10) Don’t forget about customer support

With any luck, this list will help you provide such a strong eCommerce user experience that your customers won’t need much extra support. But providing a great customer support experience for when problems do arise will really boost your site’s UX.

When it comes to eCommerce customer support, live chat has the highest user satisfaction rates, so building a live chat feature can be a good investment in your eCommerce UX.

But if live chat isn’t in the cards, you can still ensure that users have easy access to other forms of customer support: make your customer support contact information a prominent feature on your homepage, and have an in-depth and easy-to-find FAQ section to provide users with essential information.

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