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The E-Commerce Experience: What to Avoid

Have you considered the user experience issues in your e-commerce design?  If you haven’t, then you should start sooner rather than later.  With cart abandonment rates at about 60% these days, designers are challenged to create a design that builds trust before checkout.
When the stakes are as high as they are, it’s helpful to go back to basics.  In this post, we’ll consider what it takes to design a good user experience by determining which pitfalls to avoid and which principles to play up.

Building Trust

Building trust and loyalty with visitors is an absolute must in e-commerce.  Users must have an “experience” when they visit your site – one that’s believable and inviting as well as usable.  In fact, user experience, or UX in design lingo, is only effectively done when it makes visitors feel not so much like they’re using the website, but more like they are a part of its activity and design.  This task is just as hard to do successfully as the concept is to grasp, but not impossible.

Think in terms of Apple.  The customer loyalty with this company is amazing.  Customers stand by an Apple product through thick and thin, often forgiving the company for mistakes and wholeheartedly defending it’s worth as a company.  How can you build that kind of trust?  What formula of attractive design, usability and believable interaction can get visitors to believe in your site?  Once you can figure that out, be prepared to watch conversion rates go through the roof.

eCommerce UX Pitfalls To Avoid

In order to create financially viable e-commerce design, designers must go beyond mere usability.  The user experience relies heavily on the inclusion of essential design details in specific areas such as product detail pages and the checkout process, to make it happen.  Avoiding pitfalls in these key areas can make a big difference in how often your clicks are converted to sales.

Product Detail page

The product detail page is where users undoubtedly spend most of their time.  Unfortunately, this is also where designers make the most mistakes.  For starters, the home page gets most of the attention from designers when they should be focusing their energy and most intelligent design choices on the PD page, and then following through to other pages from there.
The good news is that PD pages are easy to improve.  Recent trends, such as the no-click feature keeps PD pages interesting and interactive. No-click images and color swatches respond with a simple roll-over rather than a click, giving customers alternate views and zoomed-in images.  Another great current trend is the use of smart fields, which allow users to see when they still need to take a required step, like entering the size, before proceeding.

The Checkout Process

The Checkout process presents the designer with an opportunity to really connect the website to the customers, much like a memorable scent connects someone to a special place or time period.  The checkout process should have an aroma of simplicity and convenience.  Complicated steps and confounding text are definitely to be completely avoided.  Make sure that customers checking out have the time and attention they need to be confident about their purchase decision in as few steps as possible.

Definitely stay away from unscrupulous tactics such as hidden fees and shipping costs and try not to scare them away with poorly sequenced checkout events, such as asking too early for credit card information.  A good checkout page will leave a visitor’s sense of control squarely intact.

Security

Last but not least security should be a prominent feature in your e-commerce design.  Security is always a huge issue among online shoppers and for good reasons.  They need to know your site has a good policy for protecting privacy as well as for protecting the details of a purchase.  Taking the effort and time to convey the message that purchases are safe on your site builds the kind of trust and loyalty that can keep customers coming back again and again.

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