As a retailer, you already understand the importance of providing exceptional user experience.
You’ve likely already implemented a whole host of user experience optimization changes to your product, category, and checkout pages.
You might even be running long-term user experience tests. All of this is good practice.
But what about your blind spots? What about the parts of your user experience that you haven’t fixed because you’re not aware they exist.
Sometimes, retailers need a second perspective. And that’s precisely what you’ll get in this article.
We’re going to cover the top seventeen user experience mistakes that online retailers consistently make.
Repairing them will have a definite (and sometimes immediate) impact on your conversions.
Sounds good? Let’s dive in.
User experience is fundamentally about creating positive feelings when users interact with your store. Good user experience will lead to satisfied, loyal, and happy customers that have been able to complete their tasks successfully.User experience is fundamentally about creating positive feelings when users interact with your store. Good user experience will lead to satisfied, loyal, and happy customers that have been able to complete their tasks successfully. Click To Tweet
The difference between user experience optimization and conversion optimization largely boils down to metrics.
UX optimization is about boosting satisfaction, usability, and evangelism (willingness to refer).
Conversion optimization focuses exclusively on boosting conversions. There is, of course, significant overlap. Boosting customer satisfaction will increase conversions. But the key difference is the focus.
User experience is important because it has a significant impact on revenue-focused metrics, specifically conversions, average order value, retention period, and order frequency. When you improve your UX, all of these metrics will increase.
Providing a positive user experience also gives you a serious advantage over your competition. As global ecommerce continues to grow, and new stores enter the market, this kind of competitive edge is becoming increasingly important.
What’s the best way to measure the quality of your user experience? User experience testing often proves difficult because hard data isn’t always available, in contrast to sales and revenue data.
That said, it is possible to gauge the quality of your user experience. Here are the three metrics that are most important in ecommerce UX:
It’s important to note that this kind of data is collected through user feedback forms, which are the basis of user experience optimization. You should include feedback forms at key stages of the customer journey, especially after checkout.
With the theoretical dimension out of the way, let’s look at the most common real-life examples of UX mistakes that retailers commonly make.
User experience optimization is fuelled by customer feedback. If you aren’t collecting customer feedback, you don’t have any real idea about how customers feel about your store. At best, you’ll have an impartial and vague understanding.
Fundamentally, shipping update emails are about boosting customer satisfaction rather than driving sales. There are promotional opportunities, but it’s essential to prioritize technical details first – the status of delivery, order number, expected arrival time, and shipping address.
Feedback forms are a tried-and-tested way of gathering user experience information. Position them at all key stages of the customer journey.
Ask for feedback when a customer first views a product page, after they check out, and after they’ve used a product for the first time.
Exit popups are also a great way of targeting customers that might otherwise leave your store without returning in the future.
Metrics are the other side of the user experience coin. Along with direct customer feedback, metrics that track on-site behavior are essential for gauging the quality of your current customer experience.
Metrics are a little tricky because, unlike direct customer feedback, they rely on interpretation.
Here are three key metrics to track:
“Hard” metrics like those described above work best when supplemented with data from customer feedback and opinion forms.
When customers land on your site, it’s your job to reassure them they’re in the right place. See customers as having a set of questions that need answering before they can proceed.
First, confirm that customers will find what they’re looking for. Be clear about what your store sells by showcasing images, taglines, site copy, etc.
Second, reaffirm your value proposition, the unique blend of benefits that your store offers, to answer the question, “Why should I shop here instead of somewhere else?”
Finally, answer the question, “What’s the next step?” Do you want visitors to use the navigation, click on a CTA, or sign up for an account?
For more information about building an excellent value proposition, check out our in depth article on the topic: How to Create a Killer Value Proposition in Ecommerce.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most important points:
Boosting site speed is one of the quickest, most effective ways of improving your user experience.
Learn more about boosting your site speed with our article: How to Measure Ecommerce Site Speed and Why It’s Crucial for Conversion Rate Optimization.
Wireframes and prototypes are one of the most underused of all ecommerce tools. They play an essential part in ecommerce usability testing and optimization.
Wireframes are crude, semi-developed outlines of proposed changes to the user experience.
Prototypes are more sophisticated, near-complete presentations of what your site will look like once changes are implemented.
Use wireframes and prototypes to visualize the customer journey during development, run preliminary A/B splits, brainstorm with other team members, and gather feedback from focus groups.
Check out our in-depth article on the topic: Prototyping and Wireframing in Ecommerce Usability Testing.
Online shoppers love promotions and discounts. Customers that feel they’ve got a bargain are more likely to be more satisfied with their experience of your store.
Be vocal about offers on your site. If you’re running a sale or site-wide promotion, include a notice in your header (especially for buying holidays like Black Friday and Mother’s Day)
For discounted items, clearly show the original price in red (and crossed out) next to the new price.
Also, remember to tell visitors about free shipping right across your site. Free shipping is a big selling point. It’s so common for retailers to offer free shipping nowadays that buyers have come to expect it as a matter of course.
As a general rule, less is more in ecommerce. The most successful sites, like Amazon, ASOS, Zappos, and many others, opt for a pared-down, simple design.
There are many reasons that minimal site designs are preferable over cluttered ones from a UX perspective.
Simpler designs allow users to consume relevant content, whether images, reviews, product descriptions, specs, and so on, without unnecessary distractions.
Furthermore, minimalist designs allow CTAs and navigation elements to stand out, so customers don’t have any trouble moving around your website.
When a customer clicks on an ad and is taken to a landing page, they must think they’re in the right place. This is especially true if you have offered a discount or promotion.
It’s incredibly frustrating to click on an ad, expecting to land on a product page or promotional landing page, only to be taken somewhere entirely unrelated.
But this point goes beyond content. Customers need to feel like they’re in the right place straight away. How? A consistent look-and-feel between ads and landing pages will put visitors at ease.
Along with the content of the page, ensure that colors, branding, and messaging match up with your ad. Also, include a clear CTA on landing pages so that users know exactly where to click.
Retail customers now expect personalization. Failure to offer personalized experiences can put you at a significant competitive disadvantage as a retailer.Retail customers now expect personalization. Failure to offer personalized experiences can put you at a significant competitive disadvantage as a retailer. Click To Tweet
Here are some of the main areas to consider:
Lots of small personalization changes add up to have a big impact on your overall user experience. Implement personalization wherever it’s feasible to do so.
Check out our in-depth guide on ecommerce personalization for more tips and tactics: 27 Great Ecommerce Personalization Examples to Boost Conversions.
Research shows that most online consumers want to read reviews prior to making a purchase.
Include product reviews on all product pages, showcasing the most useful and in-depth examples first.
It’s also essential to allow users to sort reviews according to different criteria, such as good-to-bad (and vice versa), most recent, and most helpful. Many potential customers will want to check negative reviews, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
If you don’t have many product reviews at the moment, it’s always possible to collect more.
Often, all that’s needed is a straightforward transactional email sent after a customer has had a chance to use a product. Adding incentives, like entry into a prize draw, can dramatically increase your response rate.
For tips about how to do this, check out our guide: 7 Tips to Build Trust and Boost Conversions With Customer Reviews.
Virtually every user will need to undertake several “technical” tasks over the course of their “customer lifetime”.
If you’re making it difficult for users to recover their password, check the status of delivery, return items, and so on, then you’re likely causing needless frustration.
Ensure you cover all the following bases:
Because they don’t always have an impact on conversions and revenue, it’s easy to ignore technical tasks. But they’re a vital part of the overall customer experience.
Many customers will go to your about us page to validate concerns about your brand. Others will just want to learn more about you.
Include the following information-points:
Browsers visit about us pages a lot more often than most retailers think. Don’t overlook yours!
53% of shoppers browse on mobile phones rather than on desktop computers. It’s essential to have a dedicated mobile site.53% of shoppers browse on mobile phones rather than on desktop computers. It's essential to have a dedicated mobile site. Click To Tweet
Mobile optimization is a vast topic, and all of the tips in this post are applicable. Don’t apply them exclusively to your desktop site.
You can learn about mobile optimization by checking out the articles below:
Product images are an essential part of product pages. Low-quality photographs can have a hugely detrimental effect on user experience.
All images should meet the following criteria:
Always remember to compress images so your site’s speed isn’t impacted.
There are a handful of common yet highly detrimental design mistakes that retailers routinely make.
Here are the main culprits:
Transactional emails are sent in response to specific behaviors. They provide customers with important confirmation details and supplementary information.
Ensure you’re sending the following transactional emails:
Check out our in-depth article on the topic of transactional emails: The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Transactional Emails: Tips, Templates, and Examples.
To round off, we have one simple but essential point.
User experience optimization is all about testing. If you only take one point from this article, make it this one. You need to run consistent, long-term A/B and multivariate tests with a view to boosting UX ratings.
Ironing out the mistakes described in this post will have a direct and often immediate impact on your user experience.
But it’s essential not to underestimate the value of testing. In particular, pay attention to those areas that you wouldn’t normally consider, they’re the places that mistakes are most likely to arise.
UX optimization will affect all of your key metrics and prep your store for success in a fast-changing retail world.
Now, time to start implementing some changes!
More User Experience Articles on Growcode
Here are some more great articles about ecommerce user experience for you to check out:
Want to know how to optimize every facet of your site? We’ve put together an exhaustive checklist, covering optimization of all your site’s pages, from your homepage to your checkout page. Download it now for free.