eCommerce sites need to be usable, simple to navigate, and clear. Think of the times when you have tried to purchase something online only to be sent into a useless loop, or when the system lost all of your information time and again. Did you ever go back to shop on those sites again? Probably not. Basically, the more usable a marketing site and its shopping cart, the better the sales figures will probably be.
Make sure your core user never has to think to use your site. If a user has to think to use your site, that person will probably leave without buying anything. Design for the customer first and leave the experimentation for a more appropriate site. The whole reason someone is on your site is she wants to find a specific product: really think about how you will build the interface to help her every move.
Don’t let the design overpower the products. EVER. It’s like showing up at a wedding in a white ballgown when you are not the bride—it’s distracting, unnecessary and rude to the end user. Rein in the design for commercial transaction sites—that doesn’e mean you have to strip the site of all design, just make sure the main purpose–to sell product–is not hindered in any way.
In order to build brand loyalty, design the site so it is part of an overall brand experience. Look at Apple: their site is beautiful and cool, just like the stores and the products themselves. The site is a continuation of the brand.
Be sure to showcase the most popular items. You are working to help each visitor find what she wants–chances are the most popular items will either satisfy or pique her interest.
Most of the customer’s time will be spent on the product detail page, so those pages need to be informative yet simple to digest. Certainly you need to include plenty of detail, but the user needs to be able to navigate and use that information quickly. The photography needs to be accurate and effective as well.
The customer will want the checkout to be effortless, accurate, easily editable and fast. Make sure it is not too fast, or the user will feel out of control. If it is difficult or laborious, once again you risk losing customers and revenue.
Be sure to use social media. In order to promote sales and offer discounts to loyal customers, more retailers are taking to Twitter and Facebook.
Signs of a good retail site:
- You are able to tell where you are in the site at all times due to strategically placed headlines, subheads, and breadcrumb navigation
- Contact information is prominently displayed above the fold
- The site search is also above the fold and easy to find
- The site search has a search by category refinement
- You are allowed to refine your choices by size, color, etc and then able to change those at any time
- The site shows you related products
- The site has informative and clear product titles and descriptions
- The site lets you add items to a cart before asking you to register an account
- You can easily access your cart and modify its contents when you want
- The site has clearly designed buttons and calls to action
- You are able to add items to a wish list
- You can see the price and total shipping as early in the process as possible
- You can see availability and stock numbers early in the process
- The site is secure and has prominently displayed badges to prove it
- The site offers a variety of payment and shipping options
- the checkout confirmation page has as many important details included as is possible
A Gallery of eTail Sites Worth a Look
Analysis and redesign brief:
Go to the following site: Ling’s Cars.
Write at least 3 paragraphs about how you would improve the home page and site. Include pencils sketches of how you would redesign and structure the home page.
Articles used to write this lesson:
eCommerce & Shopping Cart Usability: 21 Best Practices | October 27, 2007
5 Universal Principles For Successful eCommerce-Sites | By Jeff Olson | March 23rd, 2009
9 Characteristics of Well-Designed E-Commerce Websites | July 29th, 2009