Key Elements of E-Commerce UX Design and How to Apply Them

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We explain essential UX strategies to improve your e-commerce user experience and increase user satisfaction, consumer engagement and conversions.

Why is Providing a Better E-Commerce User Experience Essential?

Let me guess, you purchased something online. If not today, then last week, or even last month. It doesn’t really matter who you are or where you live. All of us modern consumers prefer the convenience and ease of online shopping. We count on online stores to provide a great e-commerce user experience. And that is why e-commerce UX design is so critical in 2019.

As consumers are becoming more used to online and mobile shopping, they also become more sophisticated and demanding than ever. And the e-commerce user experience does matter!   According to a recent study by Smart Insights, 38% of online shoppers will leave a website if the design is unattractive.

And that can become a real problem, especially for smaller online retailers. You see, e-commerce provides smaller brands with an opportunity for establishing their positions against much bigger brands and attracting a base of loyal consumers. But only if their online stores provide the e-commerce user experience their target audience has come to expect.

In recent posts I talked about UX design, and how it benefits your website, and why website usability is essential for a user-friendly website. Today I want to talk a bit about e-commerce UX design and outline some strategies for improving the e-commerce user experience on your website.

The Importance of the E-Commerce User Experience

Put into the simplest terms I can, your e-commerce user experience and UX design are your online ID. They help you stand out from the digital noise and reflect your brand values. Your online presence is the first place your target audience will visit to learn more about your brand and the products you offer. According to a study by Impact Bound, almost 80% of your potential mobile consumers will leave if they don’t like what they see. That’s 80% of your potential online revenue, folks!

If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.Jeff Bezos – Amazon

It is easy to see why e-commerce UX design is vital for the success of any online store in 2019. Everything from carefully thought-out logic and transitions, effective website navigation, simple micro-interactions, engaging product presentations, easy shopping, payment processing and shipping, and many other details and features directly influence the e-commerce user experience, and therefore the success of your e-commerce store.

If you neglect to focus on e-commerce UX design, you are bound to fail; I guarantee it! This is one area where mobile-first web designers and business owners must work together to provide the best possible e-commerce user experience. Here are some critical aspects you need to focus on to achieve that goal:

  • Mobile-first design
  • Simple and well-thought-out functionality
  • An effective and recognizable brand identity
  • An effective and straight-forward information architecture
  • Website and data security
  • Engaging visual elements
  • Simple website and store navigation
  • Consumer feedback mechanisms

So, let’s take a look at what it will actually take to build an e-commerce site that meets mobile user expectations.

The Principles of E-Commerce UX Design

User experience (UX), or more specifically e-commerce user experience, is a critical aspect of designing user interfaces. E-commerce UX design is essential when you are dealing with an increasingly competitive digital marketplace.

In 2019, the number of mobile consumers is increasing. And demanding online shoppers want to see something new and engaging when they visit your e-commerce website. This means you must attract and engage your target audience fast enough for them to actually make a purchase before they are disengaged and head elsewhere. The “elsewhere” is usually one of your online competitors.

Like them or not, major online retailers like Rakuten, Alibaba, Amazon, and Walmart are providing benchmarks for all other retailers in terms of e-commerce UX design and user experience. These huge brands offer various perks such as one-stop shopping, unmatched selections, low prices, convenient and speedy delivery, free shipping, etc. to persuade more consumers to buy their products.

E-commerce UX design is one way how smaller brands can level the digital playing field. By adopting and researching e-commerce UX design trends they can ensure that their e-commerce user experience is both user-friendly and effective. By not focusing on the layout and functionality of a website, the website structure, design, and functionality may end up with rough edges. This provides a less than optimal user experience, which results in lost engagement and reduced sales.

On the other hand, focusing on the e-commerce user experience is beneficial for both end users and online retailers. Only those who understand the preferences and behaviors of their target audience will succeed. Here are some basic e-commerce UX design elements which will increase your website visibility and profitability.

Key Elements of E-Commerce UX Design

Mobile-First Design

A key element of e-commerce UX design is mobile-first design. Since most of your target audience will visit your e-commerce site at least once from a mobile device it is absolutely essential that you provide the best possible mobile user experience. End of story. Period!

Website Trust

You are asking your potential consumers to share something very private and important to them, their credit card info, and in many cases their home address. And your customers are aware of the rising number of cyberattacks. Unpleasant purchase experiences and the news of data breaches they read about daily have made them rightfully cautions. So, before they buy from you, they will want to check how trustworthy you really are.

In 2019 e-commerce user experience design has to include key security features. Customers who share their financial information will expect a secure site they can trust. So here is what you need to do:

  • Install an SSL Certificate – Not only do search engines consider having an SSL Certificate to be a ranking signal; it also instills immediate trust in your website visitors. Google marks sites with SSL certificate with a green padlock and the “secure” label. On the other hand, sites with HTTP are labeled as “not secure.”
  • Use a Secure Payment Gateway – By using a secure and trusted payment gateway like Apple Pay, PayPal, Stripe, Alipay, WePay or Google Pay your online consumers will feel more comfortable sharing their credit card info and completing their online purchase.
  • State Your Return Policy – Not all customers will be happy with their purchase. You can take a level of uncertainty away by clearly stating your shipping and return policy, preferably on your home page and your shopping cart and checkout pages.
  • Have a Privacy Policy Write a detailed privacy policy and provide an easy-to-spot link to it in the footer of every page on your website.
  • Be GDPR Compliant Even if you are not planning to sell to members of the European Union it is a good idea to be up-front regarding how your website handles user data and information.

Intuitive Navigation

Mobile consumers are in a rush. They don’t want to click and scroll endlessly until they find the desired product. If they notice they’re wasting their precious time on your e-commerce store, they will simply leave you for your competitors. Therefore, a key element of e-commerce user experience design is to create a simple and effective website navigation menu.

In order to create more user-friendly website navigation be sure to implement the following e-commerce UX design elements:

  • Descriptive Menu LabelsDon’t be vague or cute when it comes to your menu labels. Generic options like “Products” or “Solutions” don’t provide any value for consumers. Neither do confusing terms like “Mojo” or “Poppers” both of these are actually from recent client projects.) Instead, use easy-to-understand terms that describe your product or page.
  • Keep It Simple Fewer menu items will make it easier for your potential customers to find what they’re looking for. Limit yourself to not more than three navigation levels. If you REALLY need more navigation links, consider adding secondary menus in your footer or on specific pages.
  • Consider Internal NavigationVisitors need to know where they are, where your menu bar or search bar is, how they can get back to the homepage, how they can filter the results they get, etc. Add internal links to other relevant products or pages. Place prominent calls to action (CTAs) on appropriate pages. Ensure that your pages are no more than three clicks away from the homepage.

An Engaging Home Page

One of my key e-commerce UX design elements actually derives from the brick-and-mortar world. Think back to the last time you visited any retail store, especially if it was your first time. What made you stop and actually enter the store? Most likely it was an attractive storefront or store window. It works the same way for online shoppers.

Your home page is likely the first page they visit. And, just like your store window, it needs to be attractive and enticing enough for your target consumer to explore more content on your site. You can only do that if your e-commerce home page provides an attractive, enticing, and secure presence. And, you need to do that very quickly, before your target audience turns away!

“It takes just 50 milliseconds for users to form their first impressions of your site. That’s just 0.05 seconds to leave an impression.” Medium

Here are some important e-commerce user experience elements to have on your home page:

  • Your Unique Value Proposition – Clearly communicate what sets your product brand apart, and the value your product provides.
  • Your Proof of Credibility Use your homepage to share customer testimonials, your partners, your major product features and benefits, or any mentions of your brand in the media.
  • Your Website Links – Use your page footer to link to your company info pages, customer support pages, social media pages, contact and social media details, and your key products and collections.
  • Your Contact InfoPotential consumers will have questions and want to talk to you. Add a chatbot, your general support, accounting and customer service email addresses, a click-to-call button, and social media handles to make it easier for visitors to reach out to you.

Effective Product Pages

Once you get potential consumers interested in your brand you actually need to entice them to purchase your products. Therefore, the next step in e-commerce UX design has to be your product pages. Don’t just simply list your product info, add a product image, and think you are done. That approach will never appeal to sophisticated modern consumers.

If you really want to provide the best possible e-commerce user experience you need to spend time designing your product pages. If your home page is your storefront your product pages become your store shelves stocked with enticing and amazing products. At the very least you should focus on the following:

  • Your Product Images Make sure your product images are of high quality, consistent in style and appearance, complement or enhance your site’s color palette, and clearly showcase your product.
  • Your Product Information Make sure consumers know what products you are selling. Use simple language to explain what makes your products special and how they benefit your customers. Be sure to explain if your product is available in different sizes, styles, or colors, and mention any available options.
  • Your Consumer Experience Observe your customers’ preferences and previous purchases to provide them with a seamless journey of conversion. Add options like “Related Products” or “Our Customers Also Bought” to help them find the perfect product faster and complete the purchase. Tell them what other products they have already viewed and provide easy access to their shopping cart.
  • Cross-Sell Other Products Cross-selling means persuading a customer to buy more items from you. Once a customer purchases a certain product, show them other products related to it.

User-Friendly Checkout Process

Having an overly complicated checkout process does not provide an acceptable e-commerce user experience and can lead to shopping cart abandonment. To avoid this, store owners should focus on minimal e-commerce UX design to gather client information and provide simple ordering, payment and shipping options.

If you are aiming to provide an enhanced e-commerce user experience you need to allow consumers to interact on their terms and have an e-commerce shopping experience that will keep them coming back to your website. Here is what you should focus on:

  • Don’t Require User RegistrationNot everyone wants to be on your mailing list. So, let them complete their purchase without having to create an account. It is one of the simplest ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment!
  • Keep Signup Forms SimpleMake it as easy as possible to sign-up for a user account. Leave out all irrelevant form fields and focus on the ones that are really important to you, such as their phone number, email address, credit card information, and delivery address. Test the mobile-friendliness of your forms and make sure they’re easy to fill in from these devices.
  • Be Clear About Your Shipping CostsConsumers hate unpleasant surprises. State your shipping options and costs prominent on all product pages and tell your customers when they can expect delivery.

Virtual Reality

A relatively new element of e-commerce UX design is virtual reality (VR). VR allows your online audience to touch and interact with a virtual version of your products. This increases trust among consumers by creating a “feel-good experience” and eliminating doubts before they make a purchase decision.

The e-commerce user experience in VR/AR is still relatively new, and only very few sites are making use of it so far. But it does hold a lot of promise, and it will be exciting to see where this technology will be in a year.

360-Degree View

If implementing VR on your e-commerce seems to be just too farfetched or difficult, you can always try providing 360-degree views of your products instead. Allowing online consumers to interact with online products greatly increases the chances of them making a purchase. By giving your customers a 360-degree product view of the product details and an all-around perspective, as they explore the product you can greatly enhance the overall e-commerce user experience.

User-Generated Content

Another relatively easy way to enhance your overall e-commerce user experience is through user-generated content. Simply ask your consumers to leave product reviews. Even better if you can get them to provide images or videos of them using your products. Even amateur photos and videos can be more effective in promoting your products than those taken by professionals. You should also ask your audience to share product reviews and videos or images on their social networks.

A FAQ Page

Another of my key e-commerce user experience design elements is having a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Most likely your target consumers will have a few questions. Creating a page that answers the most frequently asked questions minimizes purchasing anxiety, delights potential customers, and guides them towards the checkout faster. An added benefit is Google uses FAQ pages in their voice search results.

Make sure to frame your FAQ page in a positive manner, pack it with actionable and helpful tips, and even include screenshots and images to make answers easily understandable. You can be even more helpful if you link to relevant answers directly from appropriate product or website pages. Be sure to include any specific instructions for using and caring for your products, ideally in the form of downloadable PDF documents or even short videos.

Reduce Bounce Rate

Another benefit of improving your overall e-commerce user experience is that it can greatly reduce your website bounce rate. Simply put, when potential consumers have a bad experience on your site, or if it does not meet their user expectations, they will quickly leave.

Bounce rate is bad for your business because potential consumers have left your e-commerce site without performing any actions, such as completing a purchase. Through effective e-commerce UX design, you can get consumers to the right place and inform them about products that they are looking for and intend to purchase.

Final Thoughts on E-Commerce UX Design

There are many e-commerce UX design trends and hacks for e-commerce user experience design. In this post, I only outlined a few of them, based on the immediate benefit they will provide for your e-commerce presence. Investing in e-commerce UX design provides measurable benefits for your online business, including increased engagement and conversions.

Your e-commerce user experience and UX design is what sets your website apart and makes it rise above the digital noise. E-commerce UX design works well with contemporary e-commerce user experience trends. Some businesses may opt for a minimal and functional design. Others prefer a storytelling narrative by mixing up types of content to keep the reader hooked. Both are viable options you should consider.

E-commerce user experience is critical for your online store’s performance and success. It builds brand loyalty, inspires conversions, and encourages customers to share their positive experience. If you are not sure where to get started, we are here to help.

Looking for Better E-Commerce UX Design?

Our innovative mobile-first web design team can help you develop just about any type of website. We are experts at carefully crafting custom mobile-friendly websites to meet (almost) any budget. From designing new WordPress websites, redesigning or updating an existing website, building responsive e-Commerce websites to creating a multilingual online presence for your business we work directly with the client to prepare them for the ever more demanding mobile consumer. Why not get started by requesting your FREE web design estimate?

And if you are still not sure how you can improve your e-commerce user experience, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way to implement mobile-first e-commerce UX design strategies on your website. It is one of our specialties, after all!

Are You Satisfied with Your E-Commerce User Experience?

Did you consider any of the above e-commerce UX design principles as you built and launched your online store? Do you feel that you provide the best possible mobile e-commerce user experience? Or do you believe that shortcomings in your e-commerce UX design are having a negative impact on your online sales? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!

Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!

By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / CXO