Your e-commerce store is one of many operating in the same industry. Although it differs in layout or visual identification from its competitors, certain elements are common.
A good example may be the shopping cart located in the right upper corner of the page – exactly where the user expects it to be. The fact that the cart in your e-store looks this way and is located in this specific place is a result of many years of analyzing the expectations and experiences of the users. This is what a UX designer does – their job is to maximize the functionality of a sales page so that every user can instantly find what they came for and complete the shopping process quickly.
In this article, you will find out why UX is fundamental in e-commerce and how it can support the growth of your sales business.
What is UX?
UX is simply user experience, i.e. the sum of emotions we feel when using a tool – a website, app, etc. By UX, we mean all the reactions to a given digital product. If you get irritated in the first several seconds of visiting a website, it is obvious that the UX is poor, and nobody went as far as to try and step into the end user’s shoes.
UX comprises many elements however, the most important ones conversion-wise are the following three: the ease of using a given tool, the availability of all the functionalities, and the convenience of navigating the page/app.
UX is a term referring not only to digital products but to all aspects of our lives. User experience determines the direction of designing electronics, cars, physical stores, and even apartments and houses.
Follow, not force
The essence of UX in e-commerce is to constantly analyze the needs and behaviors of the consumers, which, of course, shift now and then. As recently as 2013, studies showed that for 8 of 10 people, the greatest motivation to shop online was the lower price. However, in 2020, 82% of consumers claimed that the greatest advantage of shopping online was the 24h availability.
Therefore, when designing web stores, the convenience of shopping requires more attention, which is what the UX department does. A consumer who likes the store for its functionality, transparency, and short purchase process is more willing to accept even slightly higher prices.
An important clue for the representatives of e-commerce is also what things e-consumers find the most irritating. We are discouraged from online shopping by elaborate forms and inconvenient smartphone experiences. Taking into account that as many as 69% of consumers buy online with their smartphones, we also need to remember the mobile-first rule when designing the store UX.
As we know that consumers buy online out of convenience, and they can get irritated with obstacles when placing an order, we start to understand why it is impossible to design a profitable e-commerce platform skipping User Experience. The idea is simple: we need to follow the expectations and habits of the buyers and not try to change them arbitrarily.
Note that when you enter a new restaurant, you expect the waiter to give you the menu with a selection of dishes and prices. You are accustomed to it, and you feel comfortable with the process. If the restaurant instead proposed a model in which guests get random dishes and learn the prices only on getting the bill, the place might become a short-lived media curiosity, but it will not stay in the market for long.
You don’t have a long time to convince the customer to make a purchase
According to the study performed by Nielsen Norman Group, the average internet user decides to leave a website within one minute of opening it. This is not a lot, right? Now you can see that we don’t have a lot to play with to attract the user’s attention. We should mainly focus on not discouraging them. And that’s what a UX designer does.
If the website or a different sales tool is designed chaotically – contains many distracting elements, and the user doesn’t know where to start, they will not lose time on making it through successive obstacles. Your potential client will leave the store and try their luck somewhere else. What is worse, they will never come back.
The customer visits an e-commerce store looking for a solution to a problem. Don’t add to the problem.
However, let’s assume that the UX of the home page is fine, and the customer found the product they were looking for, added them to the cart and wants to place the order. It doesn’t mean that they will finish the process. Most customers abandon the purchase in the end.
The study performed by Baymard Institute (USA) revealed that as many as 7 in 10 e-consumers abandon their already full shopping carts and leave the website just before finalizing the purchase. Moreover, only 14% of them will return to the store and finish the purchase.
Why does it happen? The most frequent causes of abandoned shopping carts in e-stores are:
- surprising the customer with additional costs (e.g. delivery),
- making the customer create an account (when there’s no way of completing a purchase without registration),
- too long delivery time,
- the necessity of providing credit card details,
- too long purchase process (complicated form).
Note that all these reasons can be eliminated if, when designing a store, we focus on making the shopping experience as easy as possible for the customer – e.g. by appropriate location of information, simplified communication, and shorter purchase form. This is what a UX designer does, and the effects of their work are one of the factors directly translating into the sales results of a given platform.
As many as 74% of consumers abandon e-store shopping if the shopping process is too complicated. This translates directly to the low conversion factor, which cannot be changed by a new advertising campaign, lower prices, etc.
At the same time, studies indicate that improving UX with a focus on simplifying the shopping process can increase conversion every four times.
What influences UX in e-commerce?
UX is an extensive topic, therefore, every agency that specializes in creating digital products for e-commerce has its design department following the rules of UX. However, there are several understandable key UX elements that are crucial for a user-friendly platform.
Here, we emphasize simplicity and intuitiveness. It can be said that well-designed navigation takes the user by hand and lets them quickly find what they came for.
When designing navigation following UX rules, we mostly pay attention to:
- logically leading the user through successive sub-pages to accomplish the goal for which they visited the page,
- understandability, as simple as possible names of specific categories, sub-pages, collections, etc.,
- the regular architecture of information in the upper menu and footer (in the mobile version, the menu needs to be easily expandable and legible).
Quick purchase process
In e-commerce, the goals of the store owner and the user coincide: to conclude a transaction. UX emphasizes making the purchase as quickly as possible, as any unnecessary step to be performed by the customer increases the risk of leaving the store or abandoning the shopping cart.
When setting up the purchase process, we pay attention to:
- the clear transition between the various stages of the process (checkout),
- transparent information about the price of the product, payment methods, method, and costs of delivery (all these elements must be visible on the product page, the customer must be able to find them within a few seconds of entering the product page),
- adjusting sales mechanisms to the needs of users and the specificity of the products offered (e.g. cross-selling, up-selling).
Simple, friendly communication
The way we communicate with the user also has a great impact on their experience of visiting the page. Therefore, good UX is inseparably related to equally good copywriting. At the further stage of working on sales page usability, we should take care of communication understandable to the user and high informational value of the content.
Here, we need to pay special attention to:
- maximum condensation of content (“meat” instead of beating around the bush),
- using intuitive, attractive CTAs,
- creating content aimed at understanding the needs of customers, solving their problems, and presenting applications instead of focusing on product features (which result directly from the specification and images).
How to see if we are going in the right direction?
UX is not an exact science, but an experimental one. There is no single template that will work in every case. Therefore, at individual stages of designing UX, we need to control the effectiveness of the implemented changes.
We do this via:
- UX audit – performed with analytic tools, it lets us specify the quality of UX actions implemented in the store, look for weak points limiting the conversion, as well as the elements with a decisive impact on the behavior and experience of the customer navigating the page. Such an audit is a baseline for the potential redesign of the platform with UX in mind.
- Surveys – we verify all the UX solutions with validation techniques, such as A/B tests, card sorting, surveys, etc. Testing is a crucial stage in designing the UX. We need to be certain that the proposed shopping cart structure accelerates the purchasing process, doesn’t irritate the user, and doesn’t discourage them from completing the transaction.
Analyzing the effectiveness of the proposed UX solutions is another element of diagnosing the condition of a web store, allowing us to identify the potential errors translating into e.g. low advertising ROI. It’s similar to setting UX KPIs, and you can read more about it in another article on our blog.
After reading this article, there should be no doubt that UX is extremely important when designing every digital product for e-commerce – whether it is an app, sales platform, store page, or even landing page.
Investments in this area are necessary, and at the same time profitable – the Forrester study indicates that every dollar spent on improving UX has a hundredfold return. This is due to the real increase in revenues from the sale of more products, but also thanks to lower advertising and customer acquisition costs.
Read also about ROI indicators measuring the efficiency of designing UX.