Some of you’ve heard of “user experience” or “UX” and some of you haven’t. For those that haven’t, here is my one-sentence definition: “Is it easy for me to use your site for the purpose you are intending me to use it for?” UX is the most important element for any ecommerce site. You have to build the site for the user if you want it to be successful, and we hope to give you a few UX tips to increase your ecommerce conversions!
There are two areas of the site I want to focus on in regards to UX, as these are the usual culprits for hindering sales. The first is to make your site more trustworthy. This is probably the quickest and easiest of the two areas to improve. The user’s impression of your site’s trustworthiness is the first step of the buyer’s experience once they land on your site. That means your site needs credibility factors for the user to see in the first few seconds of landing on your site. Some of these areas will not be easy fixes, but the reward will be worth it.
The other part of it is your site’s functionality, another huge UX issue. Don’t know if you have functionality issues? If navigating your site is like finding your way out of a medieval labyrinth, you qualify. Purchasing your product should be easy, not a headache.
Increase your ecommerce website conversion rate with the UX changes outlined below.
Increase Site Speed:
The first impression of trustworthiness is the site’s efficiency. How fast does your site load? Does it seem clunky? If it’s slow to load and cumbersome to navigate, the user will probably not trust your site and make the decision to spend their money elsewhere. This means that you are helping someone else (i.e. your competitor) make money. Unless your competition is bringing you as their plus one to their Bali retreat, you need to speed up your site ASAP.
This could be as quick as fixing a few broken links, or as time-consuming as optimizing every single image on your website. This blog post has a few ideas as to why your site may be loading slowly. Find out what is causing your site to load slowly and get it fixed. This could be a quick win for your business.
Include Credibility Icons:
When someone lands on your site, you want to ensure they feel safe and secure. They need to know that you are a legitimate site and not some creepy person in a basement stealing their identity. Here are a few ways to add credibility to your site:
- Security Badges: Add security badges to your site, especially while a user is walking through the checkout process. Of course, don’t bedazzle your site with these badges – going overboard may seem like you’re shouting how secure you are. Usually the people shouting security typically aren’t secure. Show a few badges while keeping your design clean and professional.
- Awards and Certifications: While you are at it, add a few awards and certifications. Think of it as the restaurant’s version of a Yelp rating. I know I feel instantly better walking into a restaurant if others survived long enough to leave a Yelp review. Studies show that they do matter, and it is an easy fix if you don’t already have them on there.
- Payment Options: You should always have your payment option icons visible on the home page. There isn’t anything more frustrating than spending time shopping around a store and finding out that they only accept PayPal. I just wasted time shopping around and got all the way to the checkout section to find out that I have to set up an account with PayPal. I start thinking: maybe I don’t really need this Panther’s jersey, maybe it is a bit expensive, maybe I should support local businesses and not buy online, maybe I need a snack, maybe I should use this to buy myself a more nourishing lunch instead of Top Ramen. Never make a user think. If they start thinking, they aren’t buying.
- Social Media Presence: Last but not least, you should include your social media links. This is another way to show that you are a legitimate business. Now, this could be a double-edged sword. If you’re a new business and the only person to like your business page on Facebook is your mom, then you probably don’t want to blast that either. You’ll have to use good judgement for these types of situations.
Add Contact Information:
A transparent company is a trusted company. One simple way to show transparency is to have your contact information easily found. Customers will instantly feel more secure that you’re available for questions and issues. If you don’t currently have a phone system in place, the author of this post shares his first-hand experience of adding a phone number to his website along with the pros and cons for his business.
You have to do what works for your business. Adding a phone number for it to ring 100 times with voicemails that land on deaf ears probably won’t work. If I have to seek advice from a caterpillar and solve riddles at a Mad Tea Party to finally speak with someone at your company, it’s probably best to not have a phone number on your site.
Show Your Return Policy:
Another important addition to your website is a return policy. Even though returns are a hassle for everyone involved, they’re a necessary evil. You might as well make it work in your favor. Return policies are the new craze! What used to be the ugly Wicked Witch from the West that everyone would hide in the attic is now the reincarnated Good Witch of the North living front and center on every ecommerce business’s website.
Don’t just take my word: The Journal of Marketing found that customers will increase purchases over the next 2 years between 58% and 357% if they received free shipping on returns. Now that I proved it to you, here are some great ideas for writing return policies and here are some ideas to improve your policy, if you already have one.
Improve Site Navigation:
Make it easy to find your products. Most online shoppers are not looking to browse, so don’t build your site for browsing. If searching for a women’s sneaker is as frustrating as shopping in a clearance section during a Black Friday event, I’ll never return to your site. At the end of the day, most people can find your products or similar products anywhere else. Don’t give them a reason to look elsewhere.
Your products need to be organized. The navigation menu should be one of the first steps you take when designing your website. Having a well-structured navigation is paramount for both the user’s experience and also the search engine bots. For example, if you are selling jewelry, separate it by gender first. The gender category can have sub-categories to allow the user to browse for specific types of jewelry. This not only helps with the user’s experience, but also with SEO (search engine optimization) which is a huge win for your business.
The navigation should also live in the same place on every single page. Do not create a cat and mouse game to make your site look cool. When designing your site navigation, use the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid). This is no time for exploring creative ways to portray your products. Do not recreate the wheel, just stick with what works. There are times when function trumps design. This is one of those times.
Breadcrumbs are another way for your users to easily navigate your site. A breadcrumb is a type of secondary navigation structure that reveals the user’s location. You can usually find them beneath the main navigation bar and above the content. They help your potential customers understand the hierarchy of your website and act as a visual aid to show their current location. By implementing breadcrumbs, you can ensure your products are organized in a way that makes sense and allows the user to bounce easily from a sub-category to a main category.
While navigation is most important when it comes to UX, some users are less patient and want to search for an item specifically. If a person is looking for female shoes that are black with a 3-inch heel – they probably don’t want to click around your site for more than 5 minutes. Don’t make them search for a needle in a haystack. Give them a way to search and filter your products to help narrow down browsing time.
Some sites saw an increase in conversions by 26% after implementing a filter option for their site. It may seem obvious to have a filter, but only 16% of websites provide a good filtering experience. There are so many options when it comes to filtering. You have to make sure you are choosing what works for your business.
If you have an online store with only 4 different flavors of jam, you probably do not need an extensive filter. You can use a basic filter that offers results based on price, popularity, and ratings. If you have an online store with 24 different jams, 17 types of hummus, an assortment of breads, and enough wine to get the city of Rome inebriated, you need a better filter than the basic option.
There are category-specific filters which would allow a user to view only the black bean hummus flavors. Most experts state that any item in the product list description should be an option when filtering. These specifications are usually what matters most to a buyer and allows them to quickly find exactly what they are looking for.
Thematic filters are another important filter option that would make sense for a large product offering. When a user is searching for a specific item, there is usually a reason. Maybe they’re having a dinner party and looking for specialty items. If it’s a St. Patrick’s Day event, they could be searching for the perfect Irish Soda Bread. Having a theme, whether it is holiday-related, high-end options, or seasonal, makes for a more unique experience for your user. It replicates walking into a grocery store and asking an employee for help.
With all these filter options, you’ll want to make sure they don’t complicate the look of your site. Many experts lean towards a truncated view of the filters in the sidebar. This allows a user to know what their options are for filtering and only focus on what they want, without scrolling for miles.
Have Product Reviews:
After the user finds the specific products they’re looking for, you want to help them make their decision to move through the ecommerce sales funnel. With so many options these days, customers want to know if what they’re buying is worth it.
Buying items online is always a bit nerve-wracking. Imagine it from a buyer’s perspective while walking through the shopping experience: What if the jam is gross or the wine is dryer than I like? Can I even return it? What if I spend all this money and the dinner party sucks because no one likes the food? It would be okay if they were drunk, but what if they don’t like the wine either? Planning a dinner party is stressful, maybe I’ll just tell everyone we’re going to an Irish bar and call it a day. What could have been a big purchase turned into nothing because the user didn’t convert. They’re scared to buy the products. As I mentioned before, don’t let the user think! Make them buy before they know what they’re doing.
Product reviews would have saved this customer and brought you some big bucks. Maybe they narrowed it down to the rhubarb-ginger and the black currant jam. Let’s say one reviewer raved that the black currant jam was the best jam they ever spread on Irish Soda Bread while the rhubarb-ginger tasted like the ginger that comes with sushi and was the worst jam they’ve tasted. The buyer would feel pretty confident in making the decision to buy the black currant jam.
Product reviews are an important section to add to your site. 70% of people consult reviews and ratings before making a purchase and 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from a site with product reviews. If your site doesn’t have reviews, then consumers will most likely spend the time to search for reviews. That means they are leaving your site. Never give a person a reason to leave your site before making a purchase.
Today’s online market is bigger and more diverse than ever before. You have to do whatever you can as a business owner to stand out. These details listed above are no longer a nice thing to have, they’re necessary to succeed in ecommerce. It has become the new standard to focus your website on the user’s experience.
I know some of these website items aren’t easy to fix and in some circumstances, it means a whole new website design. With the increase in revenue and return customers, it will be worth it. This website increased conversions by 26% and saw a 76% increase in revenue by making one UX change. Implement at least one of these changes and increase your conversions today.
Already crushed all these tips? Check out these 5 checkout page improvements to boost conversions.