9 Steps for Developing your E-commerce Website Usability

  • By: Cris M.
  • Nov 20, 2012
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The importance of e-commerce website usability

E-commerce website usability should be your top priority. You can spend several thousands of dollars on a high-end graphical masterpiece of a websites all well and good, and yet you might be looking at your conversion rate and wondering why it’s not up to the levels you predicted, even after this investment. An e-commerce website is only as good as it’s UX (User Experience) and usability, which should be the first priority of any web design process. E-commerce web developers often lack the processes and analytical skills to map out the shopping process, and focus too much on the bells and whistles, resulting in a website which may look good but fall short on the conversion rates.

Usability of an e-commerce Web site
E-commerce Website Usability

Questions to ask concerning usability

  • How easy is it for your customers to actually find the product they want, and checkout successfully?
  • Has anyone actually performed user testing where the subject has never laid eyes on the website?

Performing this test allows you to gauge how user friendly your e-commerce website actually is. Usability is something that can often be overlooked, when assets such as visuals, content, SEO optimisation drive the layout and user experience process.

By following these simple steps in your e-commerce development process, you can avoid the most common web development usability mistakes:

  1. One click away – Your home page is the most important landing page of all, and you will have a small amount of time to capture the attention and lure the users into continuing to click through your products. The pathway to your products, feature specials and top sellers should be within one click away.
  2. Display the specials – prominently on your home page, and allow user to add them to the cart via single click.
  3. Think about the key piece of functionality – on e-commerce websites bridging the gap between your products and your checkout – the shopping basket! Can the customer see their shopping cart contents (or at least the number of items) at all times? Is it easy for them to either continue shopping, or proceed to checkout after adding an item?
  4. Utilise shopping carts – if possible, that do not move the user away from the product, especially if you have related products of interest on the product page. This is a common mistake during the e-commerce development process, as it limits the opportunity to upsell other items. Unfortunately, standard e-commerce off the shelf solutions do not support this feature, as such you may explore custom built solutions, or request from your e-commerce web developer to customise the shopping cart process. After all, your website shouldn’t look like all the others out there and that includes the checkout process.
  5. Don’t hide your contact details – customers should be able to contact you quickly with any queries. Remember lots of people are still sceptical about shopping online, and speaking to a real person may tip them over the edge and convert them.
  6. Analyse your drop-off rates – do you notice a significantly high number of drop-outs from within the payment process? Maybe your e-commerce web development company has utilized a 3rd party payment gateway which is substandard and is turning people off proceeding to buy your item. Your payment process should be quick and easy – any difficulty and you’ll notice it in your drop-off rates. Keep to four steps maximally where possible.
  7. Postcode integrations with various 3rd parties – This is maybe an obvious trick, but it can make the checkout process a whole lot smoother, by allowing the user to simply type their postcode, and the rest (as much as possible) of their address details are auto-populated.
  8. Trustworthy images and logos – Another great e-commerce website usability tip we have is to use trustworthy images and logos throughout your site, which gains the customer’s trust. Examples of such items might be Credit Card logos (Visa, MasterCard), payment gateway logos (PayPal, 3DSecure) and security logos (McAfee security scan, PCI Compliance). Of course make sure that you only use logos which you are authorised to use. Use an SSL certificate on any page which will post customer data – such as payment pages.
  9. Personalisation – During the e-commerce web development process, keep in mind of personalisation and user accounts. Don’t force people to login, however make sure to give them that option, so they can auto-populate fields during checkout, and check their order history and status.
Usability Strategy of an E-commerce Website
E-commerce Website Usability Plan

As you can see, there are some simple things to keep in mind to ensure your visitors have a smooth experience on your website, and will return in the future. Keep these in mind during your web design project and watch your visitor drop-off rate improve! Here as an example of a well-developed e-commerce website usability for you to get a notion of what it should look like.

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