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Online Shopping for the Optimal User Experience

Duo on April 23, 2014

The Role UX Should be Playing in eCommerce

Companies need to gain a new perspective of eCommerce, turning their primary focus away from revenue and toward their users’ experience. 

76% of experts believe that a customer’s brand perception is directly affected by their experience on a company’s eCommerce website. 

If organizations aim to create consumer loyalty, they need to take their eyes off of the short-term purchase prize and begin to examine how they can improve their site visitor’s experience. As technology continues to evolve, so does UX. Your eCommerce website is a living, breathing thing that needs regular maintenance in order to provide the optimal experience for your visitors. The following are a few concepts that you should consider implementing in your eCommerce site design to evolve your UX.

Less is More 

2014 website design aesthetic calls for cleaner lines and more white space; the less clutter the better. These design principles should not only translate across your entire web presence visually, but also your site’s functionality. The fewer steps a consumer has to take to interact with your company and its products, the better. “No-click” image scrolling is becoming increasingly popular for eCommerce sites. Rather than having to click to zoom in on the image, users merely have to scroll over it for an up-close view. Limiting clicks during the checkout process is also crucial: fewer steps provide consumers with less frustration, which can result in cart abandonment prior to purchase.

Bigger is Better

Often a user’s biggest qualm with an eCommerce site is visibility. Companies can get lost in their own objectives and forget that they should be designing with the consumer in mind. Large, prominent images and titles can get your message across in a more effective way than a lengthy product description. Duo’s senior UX strategist, Molly Lee, notes that product descriptions, while valued by your potential consumers, should be secondary to images.

People don’t read. Less than 30% of a visitor’s time on your site is spent reading text. Product description previews should be appropriately placed, with a simple rollover or single-click to expand option. Your customers prefer that you spend more time showing, rather than telling. 

Alternatives are Appreciated 

Molly points out that all companies that offer eCommerce should be holding themselves up to the ultimate eCommerce site,

She ascertains that if you can’t offer as good of a search experience as Amazon, then you’re not competing in the market (considering that they sell almost everything). One of the central reasons that Amazon became such a success is their utilization of consumer behavior data in their UX design. When searching a product, users are provided with other, relevant product options that they might be interested in. This cross-pollination of merchandise is a call-to-action to consumers, keeping them on the website in the event that they find that the product they’re looking at doesn’t meet their needs. On your product landing pages, provide previews of similar or relevant products that you think your customers may be interested in. For instance, if they’re looking at a pair of shoes, feature other similar styled options or product accessories (shoe shine, replacement laces, etcetera).

Structure for Success 

When it comes to organizing the content of your website, the best thing you can do is implement a clear hierarchy that provides for easy navigation. Your menu bar should be intuitive to your consumer, allowing them to find what they need quickly and efficiently (again, the less clicks, the better!). When it comes to menu navigation, you can neither assume you understand your consumer’s search motivation nor force them to behave in a certain way. If you do, they will likely leave to another site. To avoid this, have consumers make only the absolutely necessary decisions first, and then go into specifics further down the shopping process. 
Using the previous shoe example, your menu should provide a few, over-arching categories (ie “Clothing”, “Shoes”, “Accessories”). Once they have selected that, consumers should be able to filter product offerings at their leisure to depict whether they’re looking based upon color, size, gender or style. Every customer’s online shopping experience is unique and your website should be more than accommodating to that in order to facilitate purchase conversion and future retention. 

Above all, regardless of whether your site’s primary purpose is for eCommerce, your goal should be customer conversion. 

Even in the places that you’re not selling, she says, you should still be selling. This can include featuring products on informational pages or calls to action throughout your site. Cicerone is a great example of a site that follows these guidelines and this mindset. Your company website should serve as the central hub in which consumers can interact with your company by everything from information gathering to online shopping. Your online presence is essential to building brand equity and fostering consumer relationships. Consult with your developers and designers to create a site that provides the optimal user experience.

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