10 UX design for e-commerce: principles and strategies
E-Commerce platform has to sell. But what if it doesn’t?
Nowadays, UX design is about more than just well-placed buttons and a properly structured navigation menu. Every ambitious designer will aim not just for a convenient product, but for a product that, for all its visual modernity and aesthetics, would deliver the user to the goal in just a couple of steps. In our article, we are going to share with you our experiences, and talk about 10 strategies and principles of UX design that will help you create the perfect commercial product.
What Is E-Commerce?
E-commerce is a web-based solution that provides its users with the following features:
- manufacturers and suppliers of goods and/or services can present them on the Internet and process customer orders;
- Buyers (clients) can use standard browsers to browse the catalogs and price lists of the goods and/or services offered and issue orders/requests/inquiries using certain web technologies.
An important component of e-commerce systems are the so-called payment gateways, through which electronic payments are made. In this case, the implementation of the e-commerce solution also involves a bank, with the participation of which the funds are written off and credited.
Why Is UX Important in E-Commerce?
So, let’s determine why UX is important in e-commerce.
Design is the first thing you notice when you open an application or web page. As for user experience, this is something that goes hand in hand with design, and can ultimately either positively or adversely affect the conversion rates of your website.
The fact is that no matter how aesthetically attractive the visual component you choose for your project is, it will make absolutely zero sense until this component starts helping you to make sales. Moreover, UX indirectly affects SEO: if your site is not user friendly and new visitors do not understand how to navigate it, you will not see repeat leads and, as a result, regular customers who usually make up the lion’s share of traffic. If we add to this the fact that in recent years the supply of most goods and services has been significantly exceeding the demand, we can conclude that without high-quality, carefully thought-out e-commerce user experience your online business is unlikely to be competitive.
Key Points for Successful E-Commerce UX Design
Do you now see why, without a well-designed UX part of e-commerce, virtually any web product would simply be unviable? Great, now it’s time to find out what factors determine how good the UX of your particular e-commerce solution is.
Utility means how quickly the user got to the target action and whether they managed to get to it in general. As a rule, this criterion is important when the user is first introduced to the e-commerce solution.
This criterion determines the convenience and ease of user interaction with the interface of the web solution.
How fast do the pages load for a user? Can the product be accessed from all web browsers? Are there any non-working links on the site? You will have to answer these and many other questions in order to understand whether your product meets the accessibility criterion.
Finally, desirability is what determines the user’s desire to use a particular solution in general. As a rule, its visual component is responsible for this.
Principles and Strategies for E-Commerce UX Design on All Stages of User’s Journey
Let’s start with determining which stages of mastering the interface each user of an e-commerce website or an e-commerce application goes through. As you can see, they all logically follow from one another and are ultimately aimed at making a purchase:
- Website discovery. This is one of the initial stages of the sales funnel – the first acquaintance of the user with the site. It is important to work out the page loading speed, as well as convenient and understandable basic navigation (menu, search, cart, contacts, etc.);
- Product search and browsing. At this stage, the user needs to be able to instantly figure out where and how to search for products, as well as how to sort and filter them for easy selection;
- Product page. This stage of the potential buyer moving through the sales funnel should show useful information about a particular product as quickly and informatively as possible;
- Shopping Cart. After the user clicks the “buy” button, he or she starts actively or passively interacting with the shopping cart of your e-commerce solution. All the functionality relating to this part of the store should be, on the one hand, extremely unobtrusive, and on the other hand, understandable and intuitive;
- Checkout. The procedure of placing an order normally involves a fairly large number of sub-steps (registration/authorization in the account, filling in personal data, choosing the method of payment and delivery, etc.). You will have to try to minimize all the formalities and, if possible, use the auto-complete function for some data fields (the only thing to note is that this should not compromise the user’s security; for this reason, online stores never save CVV or CVC Code, and the bank card number is protected with asterisks);
- Confirmation. Finally, the order confirmation. To optimize this stage of the sales funnel, you will also need to take care of the convenience and awareness of the buyer. Send them a letter of confirmation to the indicated email address, offer a clickable track number, work on the form of order cancellation or adjustment (this option is usually made available for some time, e.g. 1 hour after placing the order), etc.
After determining all the stages of a user’s journey through your website or web application, we have finally come to the point where you can get closely acquainted with the main UX design principles for e-commerce, as well as e-commerce sites with great UX.
Position the Brand Clearly
The first thing on our list of UX agency best practices for e-commerce is the correct positioning of the brand. Every detail of your marketplace should fit the concept of your brand (without interfering with the convenience of users). This applies to all aspects of design, from choosing the right typography to creating a unique way to navigate the site.
The official Apple store is a textbook model for such positioning, where literally every letter and every picture is reminiscent of the ideology of its founder.
Intuitive navigation is what helps you move your user from one sales funnel stage to another. Fortunately, nowadays, thanks to a large number of sites that annually earn billions in sales, you can simply copy someone else’s UX design strategy, embellishing it with your corporate design.
As an example, we recommend browsing at least one of the sites of The Hut Group. In each of them, the interface is thought out so thoroughly that the visitor simply does not have the opportunity to leave the marketplace without making a single purchase.
Provide All the Possible Search Capabilities
The fact that the search box should be accessible from anywhere on your website or application is obvious. If your marketplace is multi-brand and replenished daily with dozens, if not hundreds, of new products, then this is an excellent reason to help your visitors navigate the product range even faster and with more accuracy.
In particular, you can offer them a smart search function that uses artificial intelligence technologies, as Neiman Marcus did with their function of visual selection of clothes and accessories based on a user-loaded picture.
As you already understand, well-designed UI/UX can contribute to a smoother flow of visitors through the sales funnel.
For example, you can place on the product presentation page a carousel with similar items (which are either visually or functionally similar to the product the user is currently viewing). Thus, if the user of your e-commerce platform turns out to be somewhat dissatisfied with the current product, they will immediately receive a selection of new ones based on the characteristics that are important for the user, i.e. resembling the already viewed product in one way or another. Look at the excellent job done by Asos website developers:
Show Relevant Calls to Action
Despite the fact that excessive use of interactive elements on a site is not the best idea, completely getting rid of them isn’t either – these elements do lead users to the next stage of the sales funnel.
Below we can see how unobtrusively, but at the same time effectively, elements of CTA can be used. Our example is taken from the Netflix site, where the button is preceded by a completely convincing slogan:
Filters are what helps users quickly navigate through a huge number of similar products.
The 6pm website can serve as a great prototype for implementing your e-commerce solution:
Effective Presentation of the Items
How easy is it to view products presented on your site from the point of view of the buyer? Can they see the details of each item, or get a view from every angle?
In this respect, the Zappos website serves as a great example. Just take a look at how detailed the product cards are.
Build Customer Trust
What does customer trust mean in the context of e-commerce solutions? It implies, above all, the protection of their private data.
For this reason, we always insist on using ready-made payment gateway solutions, as well as developing our own KYC programs. In this regard, the MyBag site has proven itself very useful, where the withdrawal of funds occurs only after verifying the user’s data upon completion of the purchase.
Simple Sign-Up and Checkout
Shortening the registration form and the order form will help you to significantly improve the user experience. Just take a look at how this aspect has been successfully implemented on the Amazon website:
Display Primary Actions
Your users need to understand how to perform basic actions on the site. For these purposes, e-commerce giants (like Calvin Klein, etc.) have entire FAQ sections, where each stage of interaction between a customer or visitor with the site is described in detail:
E-Commerce UX Design Mistakes
In pursuit of the best UX, businesses often make lots of e-commerce UX design mistakes that can be fatal. Let’s talk about the most common of them.
Trying Too Hard to Stand Out
Sometimes the client’s close collaboration with the designer plays a cruel joke on them: the former wants “something different from everyone else”, and the latter does whatever the client wants. As a result, a solution emerges that is really unlike anything else, but absolutely inconvenient from the point of view of an ordinary user.
Such an approach is justified only in one case: if your customer is already a well-known person, and seeks once again to emphasize their personality via a non-trivial UI site solution. In other cases, you will simply scare off most potential buyers from your e-commerce solution.
Fishing for Feedback Too Soon
To find out what the potential buyer wants, many sites practice creating various forms that collect data about their preferences. With such forms, you need to be extremely careful.
Just imagine: a user has only just registered on your site (that is, they have gone through a rather long chain of actions), and you are already send them the next offer (for example, filling out a card with their favorite brands or choosing the products they are the most often interested in). Don’t be too pushy with this – you risk exhausting your potential buyer before they purchase anything at all on your site.
Just a few years ago, pop-ups were considered one of the most effective methods in increasing conversion. And indeed, there was hardly a site without pop-up windows with polls, subscriptions, and other CTA offers. Now the pop-up trend is gone, and the new trend is to provide maximum freedom of choice for site visitors. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming the visitor and forcing them to leave your site without a purchase.
Sometimes, in trying to make the website as interactive as possible, designers create an impression of a very demanding interface with a bunch of buttons, multiple windows and input fields all requiring certain actions from the user, hindering the way to the purchase. Leave your visitors the right to choose: the “keep the user at any cost” strategy is unlikely to play into your hands in this case.
Insufficient Information on Product Pages
When creating a user interface, try to focus on beginners, not on experienced users. Otherwise, the newcomers will find it very difficult to understand the navigation and the basic characteristics of the products. One of the clearest examples of what not to do is the Victoria’s Secret website, which contains critically little information about the products themselves. If it were not for the massive marketing campaign around the brand itself and the large number of offline stores, the site would hardly have reached such a high level of sales.
E-Commerce UX Design Trends in 2019
And finally, let’s define the main e-commerce UX trends in the year 2019.
Trend # 1: Useful Animation
Today, animation is more than just an element that attracts the attention of users. You can use it to lead a potential client to the action you need (for example, highlighting clickable elements).
Trend # 2: Augmented Reality
There must be very few people unaware of the famous IKEA catalog that implemented the concept of augmented reality. Instead of trying to imagine how this or that object of furniture would look like in your house, you get the opportunity to “try it out” using the image of your home interior on your smartphone. You can extrapolate this idea to your business, the main thing is to make sure that it looks appropriate and does not interfere with shopping for those who do not want to bother with these fittings and only need 1 or 2 photos of the product.
Trend # 3: Integration with Social Networks
The current trend is to develop your business across all channels: not only through a standard website or a web application, but also through social networks. To do this, it’s not enough to link to your trading platform in your social network profiles (anyone can do this now, simply by choosing the correct target audience settings). You also need to do the reverse, ensuring that your e-commerce platform integrates with your business profiles.
Trend # 4: Clever Payment Processing
Payment for the purchase, as one of the final stages of the customer journey, is a rather tedious task from the user’s point of view (after all, this is accompanied by filling in the payment card data, specifying the delivery address, choosing the delivery method, etc.) You can try to make it as easy as possible and shorten the duration of this procedure. For example, as we mentioned earlier, you can provide your customers with an extremely smooth checkout process, automatically filling in some fields that will be repeated from one purchase to another (this could be the card number and the issuing bank).
Trend # 5: Omnichannel Personalization
You need to try to engage each customer in all the sales channels you use. In particular, one of the most effective omnichannel personalization techniques is predictive targeting, which will create an individual user experience for each new lead.
UX Best Practices for E-Commerce: Summary
So, how to improve your e-commerce UX? First, carefully study all the above e-commerce UX best practices and try to follow them as precisely as possible. Secondly, constantly monitor all sorts of lists of top E-Commerce solutions to keep abreast of the latest trends. And, thirdly, always allocate for these purposes employees with proper skill levels. It will not be difficult for you to follow all these recommendations if you contact us at e-commerce UX design company Qubstudio. We will develop for you a perfectly unique UI/UX solution tailored to the specific needs and characteristics of your project.