Socrates said, “Know thyself.”
We say, “Know thy customers.”
And guess what? They don’t think like you do. You know your product and your website inside and out. You knew it when it was just a few sketches on a napkin. You have been using it in every form and iteration it has been through in its entire life-cycle. Your actions, decisions and preferences have been imprinted into everything from inventory to imagery and organisation.
However, many of your customers are coming to your site for the very first time. Many of them have a goal in mind and whether that goal is to buy a product, or simply to research, they are using your site because they believe it will help them achieve that goal. Others are cautiously poking around, a little unsure due to previous experiences that left them confused and dissatisfied.
“Knowing how people will use something is essential.”—Donald Norman
It is essential because it is a paradigm that you do not share. It is essential because it forces you to be objective and make decisions based on what the user needs and not a subjective preference. It is also essential because it can reveal fundamental flaws in the users assumptions and give you the insight to create something that both delights and engages the user.
User experience focused design aims to understand the reason a customer would be coming to your site and what they may want from it, then tries to lead them to that goal in as few clicks as possible. Here are a few points that all good user focused e-commerce sites have in common;
The best websites answer a binary question immediately. A binary question is a yes or no, and in e-commerce, the primary question will most often be “Is this of interest to me?”
We take information from pictures and videos faster than from text, and so the imagery on your website should make it instantly clear to a customer what kind of products you sell.
If you walked into a store and it was a mess, you would probably decide that it was not very well managed. It is the same in e-commerce. A site with poorly sized images, broken links and inconsistent fonts will immediately give customers the impression of a disorganised business. Customers are less likely to trust a company to protect their details, or deliver their purchases quickly, if they appear to be a disorganised mess. Continuity of images, text and brand colours, all tell a customer that the site they are looking at is professional and trust worthy.
Security is always the number one reason for buyer hesitation. Security logos should be displayed clearly. Customer testimonials are a strong way to increase trust, and should be used throughout an e-commerce website. Use testimonials to highlight how great products are, how quick your delivery is and what great service you provide. Under no circumstances should testimonials be hidden away on their own page.
The second most common cause of customer hesitation is returns. In a survey by comScore and UPS, 63% of American consumers check the return policy before making a purchase and 48% would shop more with retailers that offer hassle-free returns. These policies can have an even greater impact on international consumers, most notably in Germany where 72% of consumers would give more business to stores with hassle-free returns. Make sure that your returns policy, or a link to it, is clearly displayed on your homepage and on product pages too. This BigCommerce homepage designed by Frooition for oemassive.com is a perfect example.
Mobile commerce is the fastest growing sector of e-commerce, and there is no excuse for any retailer not having a mobile compatible site anymore. Be sure that your mobile design has adequate white space for finger navigation, with large buttons and fonts that read well on small screens.
Be Omni Channel
With people becoming increasingly confident shopping online, and mobile commerce growing, increasing numbers of customers are searching marketplace websites before using search engines to research items. It makes sense that merchants should be present on major marketplace sites for this exposure, and also have their own e-commerce site for increased control and profit retention. Strong, consistent branding across all platforms allows customers to recognise you instantly, and also increases trust.
This eBay design created by Frooition for Dyson mirrors their own website within the eBay marketplace, keeping brand continuity and ensuring that customers feel confident that they are shopping with the brand, even when they are not on the brand’s own website.
Make Buying Easy
96% of customers reporting high-effort experiences do not become repeat purchasers, compared with only 9% of those with low-effort experiences.
Survay by Comscore and UPS
Even an item offered at the most perfect price will never sell if customers struggle to checkout. Your entire E-Commerce site should be relatively easy to navigate. A rewarding user experience keeps visitors on your site, and also keeps them coming back.
Think about who your customer is and what they are coming to your website for. Make sure everything is they want easy to find, that their questions are answered easily.
This BigCommerce design for ExpoAv.Rent has a hire now button in the central image, and three step description breakdown of the buying process to make it clear how easy it is. There is even a live chat function box in the footer, incase customers have questions.
The best e-commerce designs consider the customer journey, and present information gradually, at the stages where the customer would want it. Put menus or links to product categories in a prominent place, and make sure categories and the products that are in each category are properly named. The last thing you want is for a customer to go on your website only to not know where they are going and have to search for it. The BigCommerce one page checkout was created because the payment page is where most sales are abandoned. A payment must be fast loading, super secure, and filled with minimal effort to maximise sales.
Consider The Cart
Most cart abandonment happens on the checkout page. Aside from displaying information clearly, a good shopping cart layout should be simple, effectively display company branding (colours, company logo), and include prominent checkout buttons.
A shopping cart page should also include all the important elements your customers need, such as the ability to change quantities, select shipping options (shipping prices should be displayed), enter promo codes, select a payment option, or continue shopping and/or adding more products to the cart. Also important: don’t limit customers to only one or two payment options, such as PayPal only, or only Visa and Mastercard but not American Express. You are only hurting yourself by not making as many payment options as possible available to your customers.
BigCommerce payment pages can be branded with your company logo, but are managed by BigCommerce to ensure premium performance and optimum security.
Contact Frooition to discuss creating an e-commerce store that drives sales through user experience focus for your brand.