One of the most important things that separates an industry-leading product from a regular brand is the time spent on user experience (or UX). Improving the usability of your website is something that should always be on your mind as it builds a competitive advantage. A site that only allows to you shop at a basic level is not something that 21st century customers want. These days, customers want an experience. Something that no other company can offer them.
At an ecommerce level, you probably can’t make a completely unique experience for your users, but you can implement some UX features that will benefit your site rather than hinder it.
For the uninitiated, a carousel is a scrolling marquee of pictures or videos that is usually placed at the top of your homepage to highlight certain products. Carousels are huge on ecommerce website homepages as they showcase whatever products you are having deals on or just focus on the products that might need more advertising space. A survey from Baymard Institute found that 52 percent of the top US ecommerce websites utilize a homepage carousel on their website.
Not Using Stock Photos
If you don’t see anything wrong with using a stock photo on a website that sells things, you might want to rethink your strategy. While stock photos aren’t inherently awful, they are pretty terrible as far as customer experience is concerned. People can generally spot stock photos from a mile away and are often so generic that they can make your shop seem insincere or even fraudulent.
Imagine you are on an ecommerce web page that is positing itself as a seller of premium products and/or services. If they were using stock photos to help advertise on their website, what would you think? At the very least you’d probably think that the seller was trying to save a few pennies by not hiring a professional photographer to take product pictures. Using pictures on your website is designed to give your page a customized and emotive appeal.
Keep Your Website Simple
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you can get from Point A to Point B quickly, why take any detours? Some web developers will add a whole bunch of unnecessary design elements that are not needed for function, and often will put stress on the overall user experience. Creative appeal should be achieved in the aesthetic layout of your website, not by creating more web pages or hoops for your customers to jump through before they get to the checkout. Always keep the amount of clicks in mind when designing anything for your ecommerce store. Your conversions depend on it.
Simple Search Page & Results
The ability to search through your website is a benefit that cannot be understated. Make your search bar easily found. Typically this will be in the navigation section of your website and on every single page. Adding a search bar is the low-hanging fruit of the UX world. While adding one may not necessarily boost the overall experience in a meaningful way, not having one will definitely impact you negatively.
The results page of the search should also be as clean and effective as possible. It should direct people to the right products in a way that doesn’t detract from your overall aesthetic. Most prepackaged enterprise ecommerce solutions will have some sort of search bar built-in.
Creating a great user experience is hard, but you don’t have to swing for the fences from the very beginning. Start out by taking care of the above tips and then get observant. Through customer surveys, you can start to understand what your customers are having issues with, what’s keeping them from converting, and why they would or would not shop with you again.
Think of websites that you personally enjoy visiting and come up with a list as to why. Then look at your website and compare it to the sites you like shopping on. By staying objective and putting yourself in the shoes of an online consumer, you’ll start to get an idea of if you are making it harder or easier (enjoyable or unenjoyable) for your customers to purchase from you.