User experience can make or break your E-commerce business’s success. When designed poorly, UX can undercut your credibility as a company, spook away some potential customers, and keep the average order value lower than it could be.
It’s easy to notice bad UX. But what makes it good and, therefore, unnoticeable?
As an e-commerce web development company, we at DigitalSuits ponder this question every day while we work on projects like Vit Health. Today, let us share the twelve E-commerce UX best practices that will make your website a joy to use – and improve your bottom line as a result.
Before we start: a quick introduction to UX design
UX design isn’t (only) about the fonts and colors you use on your website. It’s about making your website easy, intuitive, and convenient.
To achieve this deceitfully straightforward goal, UX designers have to put themselves into the users’ shoes. To this end, they need to identify the following for every page:
- The user’s intention(s) and goal(s) when they arrive at the page.
- The reason why they engage with the page.
- How the user interface or site features can help the user achieve their goal(s).
But what constitutes good UX design, again? One way to answer this question is by turning to the UX Honeycomb created by Peter Morville. According to it, a good user experience is:
Now, let’s explain how to improve your E-commerce website’s user experience in practice.
1. Make navigation intuitive and simple
While you should strive for a unique UI/UX design, “unique” is sometimes confused with “unnecessarily convoluted,” especially when it comes to navigation.
To avoid this, take a close, hard look at your menus, links, and other navigation elements. Now, ask yourself if they follow these eight UX e-commerce best practices:
- Your main menu is detailed and hierarchical.
- You use a mega menu instead of a dropdown one.
- A breadcrumb menu supplements your main menu.
- Menu items have clear, meaningful names.
- Users take as few clicks or taps as possible to achieve their goal.
- Your products are organized into a comprehensive, hierarchical set of categories.
- Listing or catalog pages come with multiple filters, and product previews contain all the vital information (price, shipping time, rating, variants, etc.) at a glance.
- It’s easy to locate pages detailing your return, refund, and shipping policies, accepted payment methods, shipping and delivery options.
2. Help users find what they’re looking for
While we’re on the subject of navigation, search is a vital element of it. The longer it takes a user to find exactly what they are looking for, the less likely you are to see that user convert into an actual customer.
Here are six UX e-commerce best practices for improving your search:
- Make the search bar easy to spot on any page (and don’t hide it behind an icon).
- Put the search bar at the top of the page – that’s where users expect to find it.
- Supplement inquiries with auto-complete suggestions to speed up search.
- Allow filtering the results by a variety of parameters: price, category, size, color, etc.
- Add sorting products by price, relevance, average rating, and other indicators.
- Allow searching in a particular product category.
3. Optimize page load time
You may not think of page load time as a part of the user experience, but slow pages are bad for customer experience. So, test your website for speed (you can do it using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights).
If the speed test results are subpar, you can optimize your pages for faster loading time in multiple ways. But keep in mind: some of them will be more efficient than others, depending on your root cause.
Here’s what you can do to speed up your website:
- Change your web hosting provider. Web hosting that delivers a better website speed is typically more expensive, but it’s worth the cost.
- Optimize your multimedia content. E-commerce websites are heavy on images and videos. Compress them to reduce the file size to prevent them from slowing your pages down.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN stores a copy of your website in multiple data centers around the world. When a user tries to access it, the CDN sends the copy located closest to them, thus reducing the load time.
- Enable browser caching. With browser caching, your repeat visitors won’t have to wait for the website to get downloaded from scratch – some of it is saved locally in their browser.
4. Add clear, eye-catching calls to action (CTAs)
A call to action is exactly what it’s called: a prompt for your user to perform a specific action. A well-crafted CTA can boost your conversion rates and leave your customers satisfied with their user experience.
But to be qualified for the title of a well-crafted one, a CTA should:
- Be specific and clear
- Offer some value to the user
- Start with a verb
- Be highlighted with color or other design elements
- Be underlined to signal it’s a link
- Be interactive (e.g., the button state changes when the user hovers over it).
Not all CTAs are equal, however. There are primary, secondary, and fallback CTAs – and they can’t all look the same, as the E-commerce best practices in UX design dictate. (Primary CTAs encourage the preferred action, secondary ones are for undecided users, and fallback CTAs are for those uninterested in the offer in the primary CTA.)
Here’s a rule of thumb: your primary CTAs should be more noticeable than the secondary ones, which should be, in turn, more noticeable than the fallback ones.
5. Highlight key product selling points or features
This is one of the most crucial E-commerce UX product page best practices: it should be easy for your prospective customers to locate key product features on the product page. It’s best to do it in the above-the-fold part of the product page since some users won’t ever scroll down.
How do you highlight product features? Here’s what it means in practice:
- Present product features as a list
- Keep the copy concise and clear
- Emphasize the value your product delivers
- Add them after the key product information (variants, price, shipping)
- Consider using larger font size, color, or icons to draw attention to the features.
6. Leverage social proof
Users love social proof, and satisfying their need for it is one of the E-commerce UX design best practices. Adding social proof isn’t only about user experience; it also improves your credibility as an e-commerce business and fosters trust among your visitors.
But what constitutes social proof, exactly? Here are five elements that you can add to your website to leverage it:
- User-generated content
- Influencers’ endorsements and testimonials
- Reviews from customers
- Customer ratings
- Press coverage.
When you add social proof elements, focus on the visuals: prioritize icons, photos, and videos. Make sure you don’t overlook some pages that can benefit from social proof, too. It belongs on your product, listing, and home pages, at the very least.
7. Foster trust with stickers and badges
Trust stickers and badges improve your credibility in your visitors’ eyes. They can concern your site’s security, payment processing, and refund policies, to name a few. Depending on their type, you can place them on the homepage, checkout page, login/signup page, and more.
Here are seven types of stickers and badges you should consider adding to your E-commerce website:
- 256-bit SSL encryption
- Money-back guarantee
- PCI-compliant payment processing
- Best price guarantee
- Accepted payment method logos (PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, etc.)
- Third-party endorsements
- Free shipping and returns.
8. Showcase your products in great detail
Your product page should give your users the maximum amount of information they may need to make a decision. But at the same time, you risk overwhelming your visitors with all that information.
To avoid confusing and annoying your potential customers with an abundance or lack of information, check your current UI against these four E-commerce UX product page best practices:
- Treat the above-the-fold space as a priority. Add only the most crucial information there. That typically includes product rating, price, availability, variants, short description, and product photos.
- Emphasize the visuals on the product page. Your product photos should be above the fold and take up enough space for easy viewing.
- Add a variety of visual content. Ensure the photos are high-quality, taken from different angles, and include close-ups of key product features in action. Allow zooming into the photos and consider adding 360-degree or 3D product viewing.
- Describe your product’s features and properties in detail. Place all the details below the fold. You can highlight the key features with icons, a larger font size, and the primary color. Break down product details into sections that are easy to navigate.
9. Opt for pagination on your listing and search result pages
When it comes to listing and search result pages, you have several navigation options. You can add infinite scrolling, break down the results into pages, or place a “Load More” button.
While there’s no one best option for every website and application out there, let’s make the case for pagination in e-commerce products. First, it’s a better match for the user’s search intentions (as opposed to content discovery, like on social media). Second, it gives your users a sense of control and, finally, makes it easier to return to a specific item seen earlier.
To give your users a bit more control over their browsing, you can add a “Results per page” setting to your catalog and search result pages.
10. Give users multiple options to choose from
To improve customer experience through presenting a variety of options, consider (and expand if needed) your current:
- Shipping and delivery options (from slow but cheap or free to fast but more expensive)
- Accepted payment methods
- Contact methods (email, phone, contact form, social media, etc.)
- Return methods
- Purchase initiation methods.
11. Remove the clutter
Less is more: that’s the design lesson you should always keep in mind. Clutter is dangerous because it distracts your user from their goal. And if that goal coincides with your sales funnel, you risk steering away a prospective customer with poorly timed pop-ups or confusing buttons.
How do you declutter your website, exactly? Here are five basic UX best practices for E-commerce to get you started:
- Take stock of every page’s contents and pinpoint the user’s goal when they visit it. Then, remove everything that doesn’t serve that goal.
- Assess the negative space (a.k.a. whitespace) on the page. Every design element should have enough negative space around it to visually separate it from the rest.
- Check your color palette. It should contain no more than three colors (black, gray, and white don’t count as they’re considered neutral colors).
- Sort your page elements by their importance. The most important elements and CTAs should be the biggest.
- Replace or supplement the text with icons where appropriate.
12. Optimize your website for mobile devices
Responsive design isn’t just about SEO: 91% of shoppers make online purchases on their smartphones. At the same time, cart abandonment rates are higher on mobile devices than desktops, and poor mobile UX is to blame.
How do you ensure your website is intuitive and simple to use on smartphones, too? Here are five mobile e-commerce UX best practices to consider:
- Integrate mobile payment wallets to facilitate checkout.
- Add support for mobile-only gestures (double taps, pinching, etc.).
- Keep labels and CTAs concise enough for mobile devices.
- Add support for voice search.
- Test your website for responsiveness on multiple screen sizes.
- Sync carts across devices.
Being an e-commerce web development company, we often see common UX design mistakes that are easily avoidable. That said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in UX design. While some UX best practices for E-commerce work for most, others are website-specific and can be revealed only through a comprehensive UX audit.
For example, your existing users may already be irritated by a particular pop-up appearing at the wrong time or a free shipping banner that’s too distracting. The good news is, they’ll gladly tell you about your UX shortcomings – all you need to do is ask them.
So, don’t neglect your users’ feedback. Instead, actively seek it out by setting up interviews or at least surveying your users online – and act on their observations and suggestions.