The old adage “don’t sweat the small stuff”, while a bit cliche, often holds truth in our everyday lives. It’s helpful when we spill coffee on our shirts, or when someone cuts us off in traffic. But it’s not applicable in eCommerce—because there’s no such thing as ‘small stuff’.
Conversion is the singular metric in eCommerce, and is extraordinarily difficult to pull off. The average rate of conversion hovers around 2%. Online retail has made us fickle shoppers, where even the tiniest shortcomings in a site’s user experience, can send us straight to the competition.
Rarely do eCommerce sites suffer from low conversion rates because of an obvious, gaping flaw; it’s much more likely due to several smaller ones in the site’s UX design. Those seconds, almost imperceptible snags in the experience—that’s what makes visitors fail to convert, and that’s why there’s no such thing as ‘small stuff’, because all of it matters.
And that’s why the designers at Codal, a UX agency that specializes in eCommerce, put together a list of four simple mistakes and their accompanying quick-fix solutions. We’re not asking you to revamp your entire site’s strategy, but here’s what you may have overlooked.
1. Poor Product Listings
It’s common knowledge that your site’s homepage is the single most important facet of your website. You should dedicate a majority of your time and effort to ensure it’s fully optimized. But it’s important you don’t ignore the second most important aspect of your eCommerce store: the product pages.
It’s the product pages, not the home page, that your users spend the most time looking at. And it starts with product listings. Your product descriptions must be informative and comprehensive, in order to answer any questions a potential buyer may have.
“But wait,” you might think. “That’s not a UX issue, that’s a copywriter issue.” And sure, the product listing is technically copy. But the presentation and digestibility of it is absolutely a question of user experience. See the difference between example A and B below. Which one would you rather purchase?
Product listings shouldn’t be displayed in lengthy paragraphs, but rather broken down into aesthetically appealing chunks. The best descriptions seamlessly flow with the key visual elements of the page, the product photos themselves.
Example A: Poor Product Listing -Don’t Do this!
Example B: Good Product Listing -Do This!
In fact, you’d be surprised how many eCommerce websites fail to display product images of sufficient quality. With today’s larger screen sizes and high resolutions, consumers will browse else where if your site offers shoddy photos of its products.
2. Failing To Promote Transparency
When you’re conducting business in a digital world, chances are you’re digging deep into web design, user experience, and front-end development. But sometimes it’s easy to forget your users aren’t as tech-savvy as you may be.
In fact, even with the rise of eCommerce, many consumers still have concerns about online shopping, fearing fraudulent websites or the security of their financial or personal information. It’s important to ease this reluctance with a few quick-fix design changes.
These can be as easy as emphasizing your contact information, or prominently displaying the logos from certified secure payment services. For a more in-depth solution, you can highlight your product testimonials or customer reviews—we inherently trust the experiences of other shoppers.
3. Ignoring Post-Purchase
Because the eCommerce industry places conversion rate on a pedestal, we sometimes neglect the design of a fundamentally important aspect of the online store: post-purchase. Our work isn’t complete just because a visitor has transitioned to a customer.
So let’s start with a basic fix: if your product is a physical object that must be shipped, you’ll need to invest in a well-designed tracking functionality. The best in-site trackers have a robust progress bar, and notification services that deliver updates on the package’s status or location.
If your product is a bit more intangible, your post-purchase functionality could include a recommendation engine. It doesn’t have to be as top-shelf as Amazon’s. A bare-bones “people who bought this also purchased this” will work just fine.
4. Shoddy Searching
Our list concludes with one of the most common (and most offensive) faux pas of eCommerce web design: a poor search function. Often overlooked due to it’s ostensibly simple nature, the search bar cannot be an afterthought. I repeat: the search bar cannot be an afterthought.
First, a quick disclaimer: I did tout the simplicity of the solutions to these common problems, but to be honest, a quality search engine isn’t one of them. Crafting a search solution from scratch is difficult, which is why so many eCommerce sites choose to use a trusted third-party for it.
The front-end design of the search bar however, not the mechanics of its back-end, is a bit easier to clean up. First, let’s talk location. It’s essential your search bar is located at the top of the page, on every page. If it’s anywhere else, or if the user has to click a link to reach it, stop reading this post and change it, ASAP.
Consider the default text that populates the search bar as well. If you want to create a more open-ended customer experience, it can be as general as “search”; but if you want to direct the user on a particular journey, employ a more detailed command like “type in a movie”.
Sweating The Small Stuff
I understand that the problems discussed in this article may seem insignificant, and their quick-fix solutions trivial. But that’s what makes them so crucial. These are the factors that slip through the design cracks, the ones that go unnoticed when you’re focusing your resources on big-picture problems.
But while the problems seem trite, and their solutions simple, actually diagnosing them can be difficult. The devil is in the details when it comes to eCommerce, which is why you might want to consider hiring a UX design agency that specializes in online retail.