eCommerce UX: 11 Best Practices

The number one goal of retail – be it in-store or online – is to provide shoppers with an enjoyable experience. That’s because global studies have shown that happy shoppers spend more. (1) But what’s the secret to keeping eCommerce shoppers smiling?

The answer is to focus on the user experience (UX) and put yourself in your users’ shoes to ensure their experience of your website is easy, logical, and ultimately enjoyable. To help you achieve this holy grail of retail, we’re passing on our UX agency knowledge of improving user experience with an eCommerce best practice checklist.  


Why is UX in eCommerce so important?

Isn’t it enough simply to provide the products your users want? The short answer is no. As eCommerce web developers we know that the design, navigation, and usability of your site can make a huge difference.

  • 38% of online shoppers will leave a site if they find the design unattractive (2)    
  • Complex navigation is one of the main reasons shoppers abandon karts (3)
  • On average, shoppers will make a judgement about your site in 0.05 seconds (4)

There’s a reason Amazon founder Jeff Bezos describes their approach to user experience as, “We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. The focus is not the product, but the customer.” (5)  

And there’s research to support putting the user first. It can raise conversion rates by up to 400%. (6)

What makes a good eCommerce experience?

1. Clear call to action (CTA)

If users have to hunt for a call to action, you risk losing them. Your CTA should be easy to see and clearly written to inspire users to take action.

The aim is to guide users to make a purchase so don’t be afraid to make your call to action buttons a different colour to the rest of the page with a different stand-out font, and use unambiguous ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ wording such as BUY NOW or ADD TO CART. 

2. Include guest sign-up

One in four customers will choose to leave a website if forced to register. That’s 25% of potential sales just walking off into the sunset. One major retailer found that replacing a ‘REGISTER’ button with a ‘CONTINUE’ button led to sales going up by $300 million in just one year. (7) In other words, providing a guest sign-up option is an eCommerce UX must-have.

3. Simplify the checkout process

If you thought the dropout rate from enforced guest sign-ups was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Forcing customers to register at checkout leads to over one in three customers abandoning the process.

Plus, eight out of ten visitors who add items to their kart, leave without completing checkout. (8) So here are a few other things that you can do to create a pain-free checkout process.

  • Make it simple: remove any unnecessary steps – or additional clicks – so customers can checkout as easily as possible
  • Add a progress bar: providing a clear visual indicator of where shoppers are in the process helps them feel in control and less likely to leave
  • Alternative log-in options: if log-in is necessary give customers the option to log-in using one of their existing social media accounts

4. Have clear product descriptions

In the absence of customers being able to physically see and touch your products, your descriptions must do all the heavy lifting. That’s why it’s important to consider the questions customers might have about each product, such as price, colour, size options, and product availability, and provide the answers on each product page. 

It’s not just the words doing the hard work here – product pictures are equally as important. If possible, include photos of the product being used to help customers visualise owning it.

5. Consider click depth

Click depth is how many clicks it takes for a customer to reach the web page they’re looking for. If an eCommerce site has a high click depth the customer is more likely to get frustrated and leave. So the goal is low click depth. After all, who doesn’t want the shortest journey from A to B? Low click depth won’t just improve UX, it’s one of the factors search engines such as Google consider when ranking the importance of a web page.

6. Allow customers to compare products

One of the deciding factors when making a purchase is how it compares to similar products. So giving customers direct comparisons listing categories such as price, reviews, and product specification is key. And doing so on one page – such as with a product table – means your users don’t have to hunt around and click away from their current page to discover what they need. 

7. Product FAQs

If a customer can’t find the information they need about a product, the risk is that they’ll leave your site to find it elsewhere. That’s why you should think of product pages as product FAQ pages and pack them with as much information as needed to make a purchase. Your product copy should clearly explain what it is, what it does, and include multiple photos (and product videos) to help bring the product to life.     

8. Give customers a choice

If products are available in a variety of options – such as colour, size, fabric type, customisation, or price – make it easy for your customers to find this information and select the product variant most suited to their needs. 

9. Let customers create lists

Sometimes customers are ready to make a purchase there and then, sometimes they’re not. Giving them the option to create a list of items they’re interested in but not quite ready to buy can help boost conversions further down the line. If the list option isn’t available, you run the risk that the customer might forget the items they discovered while browsing or simply never bother to search for them again. 

10. Mention product availability

Picture the scene: you’ve found your dream product online. It’s the right colour. It’s the perfect size. So you add it to cart and proceed to checkout…only to be told it’s out of stock. That’s not an experience that will keep shoppers smiling. So be sure to be upfront about stock availability and, for similar reasons, postage costs. Nasty surprises lead to bad experiences.

11. Provide a multi-channel experience

It’s estimated that by 2021, 54% of total eCommerce sales will be mobile eCommerce sales. (9) So if you don’t currently have an eCommerce app, it’s time to capitalise on that market. Giving your customers the convenience to shop at any time, on any device will keep them happy and increase their allegiance to your brand. 

UX for U

Keen to keep your customers happy? As award-winning UX specialists with a rich background in ecommerce web development we’re happy to help. To find out more, get in touch



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