Why is my online shop not working?
If you created an online shop to pivot your business as soon as the COVID crisis hit earlier this year, but you’re unable to yield results, we might know why. Did your products sell a lot more offline than they do online? If yes, chances are that your E-shop UX is not designed to cater to your customers the way your offline shop did!
People often confuse User Experience (UX) with only the User Interface (UI) of a website, but the reality is much different. Did you ever get an error when shopping at your favorite E-shop? Would you blame the UI designer for that error? Probably not - it’s something that the developer would deal with.
A good UI improves your overall experience and assists the end-user find the information they need, choose the product they want and to purchase the said product, without any hiccups. This is what makes an online shop’s conversions go through the roof. Luckily, there’s a few ways to ensure that you’ve got a good UX.
Don’t over do it, but don’t be too bland either
Websites with too many colors, drawings, moving visual elements that pop in your face and no structure confuse the user, and make them frustrated. Even an excellent copy/text can not save the E-shop doomed by bad, over-the-top visuals.
In parallel, if you have ever visited some boring websites, where everything is bland (maybe even gray) and everything looks the same, you would know that makes you bounce off fast. With such bland visuals it is hard to even make out the main call-to-actions or stir any feelings at all. As users get bored, they are simply unable to emotionally connect to whatever the website is offering.
When you hire a designer to make a website design for your online shop, do not accept whatever they’ve done. Most of the times you will find designers who want to make art, rather than an actual functioning User Interface (UI) with a proper flow and User Experience (UX). When briefing your designer on what you need, you have to think about the kind of emotions and experience you want to give to the end-user. You should have a corporate visual identity (CVI) document to let all your designers keep the entire user experience aligned.
Pro tip: Never forget to run a new design through user testing to get qualitative feedback.
The legendary “best practices”
You’ve probably googled “UX best practices” or “ecommerce UX best practices” already and you would have seen a long list of things that you should change ‘immediately’!
Best practices are basically, what we call a “low hanging fruit” - the things you check over to get the most amount of results with the least amount of effort.
These practices should be taken with a grain of salt though, they are called best practices for a reason - because that is what works for MOST websites and their customers.
For instance, let’s take the ‘Check-out as a guest’ feature available on most E-commerce websites. It makes complete sense to let your customer check out as a guest, it’s definitely easy and fast for your user. However, if you are a business that needs lead retention or regular customer engagement this is not the best idea. The better alternatives for your business would be to log-in with Facebook or Gmail or other similar accounts.
So then what are some of the most popular UX ecommerce best practices? Here’s a list of few:
1. Clear and eye-catching call-to-actions (CTAs) - there’s nothing worse than missing the option of “Add to Cart” on your website or having it in a colour that it doesn’t stand out.
2. Progress indicators during checkout - let the user know where they’re at while making the purchase. You don’t want them to be all alone and scared in the middle of an unknown amount of steps of your checkout.
3. A good copy that can sell - you want the text on your website that can replace a live salesman in your offline shop. Imagine your best salesman in the form of a text. The best E-commerce websites let their customers experience the shop as they would with real human assistance. However, reading and listening are two different things, which means, keep it small and simple so your customer doesn’t get bored of long, fancy text.
4. High quality product images - Humans are visual beings. You need to amaze the user with beautiful, crisp and clean pictures of your products, with all the necessary angles. You want the user to look at the product pictures and say “I want that!”.
Tip: Consider using the 360 degrees image?
5. A good site-wide search - Your customer should be able to find what they want fast. If they can’t find what they want in a matter of minutes, you’ll lose them. A good way to avoid that is an effective search option on every page.
6. Got sales? Show it to the customers - Your customers can pull in new customers for you. The fact that you’re making sales is a great indicator for new customers considering your product. Make messages like ‘x number of people are looking at this product right now’ and ‘this was sold x times in the last 24 hours’ prominent and visually captivating.
7. Make your website mobile device friendly - In this era of smart-phones it is essential for an online shop to use sticky headers, short pages and make the website mobile device friendly. No one wants to zoom in on your website, because it defaults to the desktop site.
Thinking visual isn’t everything
UX is not just about thinking visually, you also need to dig deep into consumer psychology.
Do you know who your target audience is? Who do you cater to? What is your customer looking for? What personality do they have and what personality does your website exhibit? What are your customer personas? And ultimately, how do you build that relationship and trust with your potential customer?
Imagine an e-commerce website, which sells natural beauty products, but the baseline color is black with white text and red call-to-actions (CTAs). It would probably seem a bit aggressive, angry and uninviting. An E-shop like that would need design elements that are more calming or purifying, for example white-and-grey with sea green and a splash of honey yellow: completely different emotions.
Your text also can make a huge difference in how you present yourself. Consider asking are you talking to the customer like they’re your friends? Should it maybe be more professional?
As discussed above in best practices, social proofing is another great tact to help you tap into consumer psychology. Tell the user that these X amount of people use our products, showing influencers that endorse you, or just highlighting that your customer satisfactory level is 4.8/5 are some tactics that help you do social proofing.
UX is bigger than you think
Gone are the days when you could just slap together a website and know it just works. UX is not a new concept, it has actually existed since humans started creating things. It is literally the experience of your user, regarding anything and everything. If you run a shop that sells spices, the fact that when your customer enters your shop, they can smell the spices and see the beautiful colours and assembly is customer experience. As the world transforms towards a digital presence, your online shopping experience needs to be able to substitute the offline customer experience with good user experience.
For an ecommerce website, it all comes down to how much it can nudge the customer from the moment of landing on the website to finalizing the purchase and paying for the product they want.
Don’t let a mediocre website ruin your business, collect data regarding your customers to create a UX that is customer-centric. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback, do your qualitative and quantitative research on how your website is performing, and most importantly, hire a UX specialist that understands your customer’s needs and can help you create real conversions.