“We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. The focus is not the product, but the customer.”
Said Jeff Bezos when describing Amazon’s approach to user experience.'We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. The focus is not the product, but the customer' - Jeff Bezos #ecommerce #UX #ConversionRate Click To Tweet
There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement. In the ecommerce world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the product at the expense of the customer. I’d bet that most retailers have been guilty of doing so at some point.
All too often, in the drive for higher conversion rates and more revenue, retailers make optimization changes geared towards short-term gains, without fully considering the individuals they’re selling to. In the short-run, this might work. But in the long-term, it’s a colossal mistake.
UX testing and optimization is fundamentally about creating an experience that meets the needs of your site’s visitors. Done properly, UX aligns fully with conversion-focused ecommerce optimization, improving the quality of the customer journey while increasing your bottom line.
In this post, we’re going to provide you with a full roadmap for optimizing the user experience of your online store, covering everything from site speed to product page descriptions.
Here is the list of what you can find in this article:
What Is Ecommerce UX?
Why Is Ecommerce UX Important?
What Are the Most Important Ecommerce UX Metrics?
What Ecommerce Platforms Have the Best UX?
How to Improve Your Ecommerce UX (User Experience): 11 Tips
1. Collect Direct Customer Feedback
2. Improve Your Site Speed
3. Build Intuitive Navigation and Search
4. Distinguish Between Mobile and Desktop
5. Simplify Checkout Forms
6. Use a Customer-Centric Information Layout for Product Pages
7. Optimize for the Whole Sales Funnel
8. Use Wireframes and Prototypes
9. Alert Customers to Offers, Discounts, and Freebies
10. Recreate an In-Store Shopping Experience
11. Run Consistent, Long-Term Tests
Summing Up UX Tips for Ecommerce
Sound good? Let’s dig in.
The term “user experience” refers to the overall experience that customers have when they visit your website. Simple enough, right?
Crucially, user experience encompasses the particular set of feelings – convenience, ease, satisfaction, etc. – that users have when they interact with your store. A “good” user experience is one in which a customer can fulfil their requirements – whether implicit or explicit – in as easy and enjoyable a manner as possible.
User experience optimization is not the same as conversion-rate optimization. UX optimization centers around metrics like satisfaction, usability, and “willingness to recommend to friends”. Other forms of optimization are aimed exclusively at boosting specific metrics like conversions, AOV (average order value), and CLV (customer lifetime value).
So how do you ensure that you’re optimizing for both? By including UX metrics in your optimization campaigns. You should measure overall satisfaction along with metrics like conversions and purchase value.Satisfied customers, for example, are more likely to return, thus increasing your retention period. They'll also be more willing to take advantage of offers and promotions, thus boosting your average order value. #UX #Ecommerce Click To Tweet
When you do this, you will find that long-term metrics with a direct impact on your bottom line also begin to improve. Satisfied customers, for example, are more likely to return, thus increasing your retention period. They’ll also be more willing to take advantage of offers and promotions, thus boosting your average order value.
In a nutshell, ecommerce UX is important because it has a direct impact on your “big four” performance metrics: conversion rate, average purchase value, purchase frequency, and retention period.
Satisfied and happy customers that are willing to recommend your store are more likely to return and make high-value purchases. By providing positive user experiences, you will build more brand loyalty, receive more recommendations, and extend the period of time that customers continue to shop with you.
Ecommerce user experience is also essential from the standpoint of competition. By running campaigns (or optimization “sprints”) dedicated exclusively to improving user experience, you’ll be adding a dimension to your optimization strategy that most of your competitors won’t have accounted for. This can be a big advantage for your store.
So which are the most critical metrics for measuring UX? In contrast to metrics that quantify specific actions, and can be gathered without any user input, most UX metrics require direct feedback from customers in the form of surveys.
Here are the top three you should track:
If you’re thinking about changing your ecommerce platform to improve your overall user experience, you might be unsure about which one to opt for. Generally speaking, the best platforms are those that have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to customizing your storefront and adding UX-focused features, rather than platforms which are fantastic out of the box.
Here’s are our top five ecommerce platform recommendations when it comes to usability:
Here’s a rundown of what we think are eleven essential UX tips:
Surveys and feedback forms should be your weapon of choice when it comes to UX optimization. The best way to gather data about your site is by asking customers questions through short, simple forms.
Now, that seems straightforward enough. But crafting engaging forms is far from easy. In fact, finding the right formula for surveys can be tricky.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Users hate slow sites. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to wait for a clunky page to load.
Improving your site speed is one of the easiest and quickest ways to boost customer satisfaction while also increasing your conversion rate and order value.
Head over to Google PageSpeed Insights and run your site through the free tool. You’ll be given practical tips for boosting your site’s speed and eliminating problems that are slowing it down.
We’ve written an in-depth guide about site speed that you check out by clicking here.
Ecommerce sites should be built to enable browsing. Many customers will come to your site without any fixed goal in mind. Or they might be looking for a specific product but also be open to discovering other items. Alternatively, visitors may be looking only for a particular product or set of products.
Whatever the case, you should make it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they’re looking for with intuitive navigation and search features.
Always remember to design separate search and browsing options for mobile and desktop. The way that users interact with menus on handheld devices is different from the way they browse on desktop.
Behavior on mobile differs from desktop behavior. You need to account for different customer needs and habits when designing for mobile vs. desktop.
This is something that a lot of retailers get wrong. They don’t treat their mobile ecommerce site as a separate entity catering to a different set of buyer expectations.
Here are some of the most important optimization tips for your mobile experience:
Take a look at our in-depth guide on m-commerce where we show how to 3X your mobile revenue.
Cart abandonment, which is high on both mobile and desktop, is often a result of long and frustrating checkout forms. There are several simple tweaks that will make checkout forms much more user-friendly.
Here’s what you should do to streamline checkout forms on both mobile and desktop:
There will always be users that abandon their cart during checkout. Ask for visitors’ email addresses at the beginning of the process so that you can remarket to them at a later stage.
Information should be organized in a way that makes it easy for visitors to consume. It’s very satisfying, for example, to view a product page where the product description is located next to the image, all the necessary information required to make a purchase decision (price, shipping details, item options, etc.) is close to the Call to Action, and on which reviews are easy to sort and read.
Here are some tips for your product page layout:
It’s not always possible to collect direct customer feedback about specific pages. But heat maps are an excellent way of visualizing how customers interact with product pages. You should also consider running video user testing.
You need to take a birds-eye view of the whole customer journey. This means optimizing all of your pages for a positive user experience, including your home page, category pages, cart pages, and so on.
Also, never forget about the post-purchase experience ? transactional emails, returns and refunds.
Visitors to your site should feel as though they can move from one page to the next seamlessly, with a minimum of distractions.
Ask the following questions to ensure that all your pages fit together well:
Many retailers forget these points, focusing on optimization of specific pages at the expense of the whole site.
Wireframes and prototypes streamline the process of creating a positive user experience by enabling your design team to effectively brainstorm and visualize changes across the whole customer journey.
It’s crucial that you review changes, in the context of your whole site, before testing and implementing them. Often, problems become apparent that wouldn’t otherwise have been noticed. Wireframes, which are less-detailed forms of prototypes, allow developers to quickly review new ideas.
The use of detailed prototypes also ensures that developers know exactly which changes to implement, significantly reducing the margin for error during the testing and implementation phase.
Customers love promotions, sales, free shipping, etc. Include notifications about all of these benefits on product pages. And re-emphasize them on the cart page. Customers will often be “drawn in” by a particular discount or added bonus, but may become uncertain if it isn’t re-emphasized when they come to the cart or product page.
If you run any promotions and advertise them through email or on social media, it’s also essential to make sure that landing pages match up with any ad content, leaving potential customers with no doubt that they’re in the right place. If you are offering an item at a discounted price, including the original price next to the discounted price.
Shopping should be an enjoyable activity. Replicate the in-store experience as much as possible by allowing customers to interact with products through high-quality images, well-written descriptions, and informative customer reviews.Shopping should be an enjoyable activity. Replicate the in-store experience as much as possible by allowing customers to interact with products through high-quality images, well-written descriptions, and informative customer reviews. Click To Tweet
Include the following on your product pages:
It’s impossible to fully replicate an in-store experience but, with the right use of on-page elements, you can come pretty close.
The tips in this post are only useful in so far as they improve the user experience for your ecommerce store.
But there’s a fatal mistake that it’s essential to avoid.
Many online retailers take an “on-off” approach to user experience optimization. Every few years they’ll rehaul their entire site, changing everything from the whole design to the product descriptions and images. This simply doesn’t allow enough time for serious testing, the gathering of user feedback, and troubleshooting of both major and minor problems.
Instead, you should copy the big players like Amazon and take a long-term approach to testing. You should test many small changes over weeks and months rather than redesign your whole site in one go.
Once you’ve tested changes, you can implement the winners and brainstorm new ideas going forward. Over time, your whole site will change completely, but without the many drawbacks of an all-or-nothing approach.
Let’s just circle back to Jeff Bezos for a second. He described Amazon’s mission to “become the most customer-centric company on Earth.”
It seems like you can’t pick up a business magazine or read a blog post nowadays without hearing the word “customer-centricity”.
But there’s a reason why the term is so popular. Customer-centricity works.
And the way to create a truly customer-centric ecommerce store is by optimizing user experience consistently and indefinitely. If you do that, you’ll be miles ahead of your competitors.
If you would like a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about user experience optimization, download your free copy today. It contains everything you need to boost your key metrics: revenue, profits, conversion rate, average order value and keep your customers happy.