Why do you think Google gives better rankings to websites that have good structure and fast speed, and which are user-friendly? They know that these components affect UX or user experience, which is vital to help websites succeed. That’s also the reason why Google and other companies, like Amazon, invest in building expensive algorithms. They offer higher personalization and insights to deliver a better user experience.
Good UX can help you increase sales and keep customers coming back for more, but, if user experience is so important, how come so many businesses get it wrong? I find that many eCommerce merchants place too much value on how a website looks, visually, and forget to think about the psychology behind the design.
Look beyond just making your website pretty and really think about how the user would interact with your site. Keeping the user’s intention in mind will make it easier to map out the conversion funnel and lead to a better user experience and record sales. Learn from these mistakes to become an eCommerce expert and increase conversions.
Before Improving Your UX
Before thinking about your website’s user experience, it’s important to understand your target market. It will help you put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and visualize how they would interact with your site.
Think about different case scenarios and how your website would help the buyer in each situation. For example, if you’re selling products for women but want to appeal to men that buy gifts for them, you may want to add a link on your navigation for “perfect gifts.” This will save men the guesswork and help them have a better user experience than scrolling through hundreds of products they don’t even understand.
User experience is not only about the design but everything involved in improving the user’s experience: the site’s structure, content, navigation, and more.
Prior to making any changes, you’ll want to benchmark your current site’s performance and sales. To do this, you’ll need to install tracking software such as Google Analytics. We’ll talk more about tracking, monitoring, and optimization in the last part of this article.
UX Issues Killing Your Conversions
No Clear Message
Landing on a website with no clear message feels a lot like being lost in a place one has never been before. You don’t know where to go or what to do; you have no direction.
When visitors land on your site, they have to clearly know what products you are offering and feel identified with your brand. Otherwise, they can feel lost and end up visiting your competitor. With so many options available, why would someone make the effort to try to figure out a website that is unfriendly? It is easier to just exit out and go someplace else.
Another main message businesses fail to deliver is a clear value proposition. This message is what sets you apart from the competition and is your promise to deliver value to the customer. If you can’t give potential buyers a good reason to buy your products, how are they supposed to come up with one?
The ideal value proposition should answer questions like “How is your product going to help me”? and “Why should I buy from your store instead of another one”? It should be clear and easy to understand. Avoid over-complicated words that confuse the reader and focus on one of the four main types of consumer benefits: quality, affordability, luxury, or must-have. By focusing on one main category, you will avoid trying to be everything to everyone, which, at the end, doesn’t make you appealing to anyone.
Too Many Choices
There used to be a time when we had limited options. There were only a few types of jam, a few salad dressings, or a few clothing options that we could purchase. As time has passed, our options keep increasing, which brings good and bad outcomes. On one side, we get more tailored solutions, but, on the other side, we have so many options that we becomeparalyzed, as Barry Schwartz explains in his TED talk. There is the pressure to choose the right option and the fear of choosing the wrong one.
In a similar way, your visitors can become overwhelmed and paralyzed with too many choices, which can push them to exit your site. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your visitor make faster and wiser product decisions.
Use Smart Navigation and Filters as a Guide
An organized navigation is where products are classified by categories and subcategories can guide users to narrow down their options according to their needs.
Intermediary pages can also be useful if you have a big diversity of products on your site. These types of pages have visuals and additional content that allow the user to get a better idea of what categories he or she should explore to shop.
As you can see below, OfficeDepot.com does a great job using product photos and additional information to guide their users, which provides a better user experience.
Not Offering Recommendations
Part of helping visitors make a purchase on your site is giving them recommendations. As a sales associate would help a visitor in a store, your product recommendations will help your visitors find their ideal products. With more help, your visitors will be able to have a better experience on your site.
Amazon implemented recommendations early and, in 2006, gave a statement that 35% of their total revenue was coming from purchases of products that customers found through recommendations.
In addition to helping visitors find what they are looking for, recommendations can also help visitors find new product ideas. You can find this on Amazon, where they have a recommendation called “Customers who bought this item also bought.”
I got the recommendation above by browsing for sneakers, which makes socks a good recommendation.
Recommendations can also help you increase conversions by providing social proof. Use “best seller” recommendations to show your top products. Everyone is interested in knowing what others are purchasing. This can be especially useful when looking for gifts—choosing “best sellers” provides a sense that you’re choosing the best the store has to offer, which can provide a sense of relief when choosing a gift.
Another good place to add recommendations is your cart. Use this opportunity to recommend products that complement the products in the cart. For example, show a cellphone charger to someone who is buying a cell phone case. Implementing these recommendations might be as easy as installing a plug-in. Check your eCommerce platform for “recommendation plugins” to see what’s available.
No Mobile Optimization
With a continuous increase of buyers shopping online with mobile devices, mobile optimization has become more important than ever. Whether you decide to go for a completely different mobile design or just optimize your current one, it’s important to test your user experience on different sizes of mobile phones and tablets.
People buy differently on desktops than on mobile devices. The small screens make space limited for content, images, and buttons. Poor mobile designs often contain elements that are too small and tough to click or elements that are too big and make it impossible to navigate through the site. In any case, an eCommerce site that is not mobile friendly makes for a bad user experience and a decrease in conversions.
Start by checking your product images. Do they look crisp and neat on a mobile device? Make sure they don’t look stretched out or distorted. Also, consider your buttons. Make sure they are easily tapped and visible across different screen sizes. Buttons should stand out from the rest of the page with a contrasting color and bigger size.
It’s also very important to check your forms and checkout process. Make sure you can easily fill out the form from a mobile device and keep the number of fields to a minimum. Having a guest checkout option is ideal to improve the user experience.
Not Having Enough Products or Guidance on the Homepage
Your homepage is your chance to convince visitors to keep browsing and eventually buy. If it looks empty or the user doesn’t find an item they like, chances are, they won’t care to browse around.
Your homepage is like a front store display. You want to showcase your best products to attract as many visitors to come in as possible. The difference is that, with eCommerce stores, you have much more real estate to work with. A front store display can maybe display a handful of products, but your homepage can be divided into sections and provide a taste of your whole collection.
It’s a good idea to showcase your latest designs. There are always people looking for the latest designs or trends. Displaying best sellers also helps. It allows you to show that other people are liking your products, which helps with social proof. In addition, you can advertise seasonal products and sales.
Slow Website Speed
We live in a world where everyone demands the best to be delivered as fast as possible. People don’t want to wait for taxis; they order Ubers. They don’t want to wait in line, so they use an app to get groceries delivered. The eCommerce demands are no different. Visitors expect your website to have top mobile speed and desktop speed; otherwise, they will go to your competition.
Yet, how fast is your website supposed to load? According to Radware, “3 seconds is all it takes for a customer to abandon a page if it does not load quickly enough.”
Website speed is so important for user experience that Google penalizes websites that are not up to par. It will lower your quality score in pay per click ads—making you pay higher prices for ads—and it will also affect your organic ranking.
One of the tools you can use to evaluate your website’s speed is the PageSpeed Tool by Google. Enter any URL and find out the website’s speed. You can even test your competitor’s sites. This tool will also provide suggestions to improve performance.
Some of the main causes of low speed are images. According to Radware, “images account for 50% to 60% of your web pages’ total weight.” Thus, if your images are not optimized, your pages will take longer to load. To fix this, reduce the file size without reducing the quality of the images. If you’re not tech savvy, there are plenty of tools online that can help.
Tracking, Measuring, and Optimizing Your Website’s UX
Simple testing can provide some UX insights, but technology can help us get more granular and precise. The most basic tool you can use to evaluate your performance is Google Analytics. With a simple tracking code, you’ll be able to track a vast amount of data that ranges from basic to very complex.
Google defines a bounce as a single-page session on your site. “In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.”
In other terms, a bounce happens when someone visits your site and then exits right away. Knowing your bounce rate will help you figure out how useful your pages are to visitors. If you’re sending traffic to a specific webpage, and it has a high bounce rate, there is something wrong. Maybe your ads are not connecting with your page or maybe your page needs more content or visuals. Website recording and heat maps can help evaluate what’s wrong.
Record Website Visits
Use website recording tools to learn how your visitors interact with your site and catch any issues. All it takes is a simple tracking code plugin, and you’ll be able to record and watch your visits. Trust me, you’ll be surprised by your findings! I use this tool constantly and I still find new interesting interactions.
For example, I’ve been able to troubleshoot technical issues because I was able to see exactly what caused the problem. I’ve also made meaningful optimizations that have led to higher conversions.
Discover How Many People Follow Your Conversion Process
Check out the behavioral analysis report to find out the steps people take to make a purchase and see where they are dropping off. Based on this data, you’ll be able to improve pages that have high dropout rates.
In addition, use the funnel visualization to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in your user experience. You can also create segments of your sessions to get more detailed.
Start by getting information from your own team. Consult your customer service department for feedback on your customer’s user experience. They would be the first ones to know about customer complaints and technical issues.
Another good way to get feedback is simply asking your customers for it. Use online surveys and ask for reviews to make optimizations.
Last, you can find feedback on social media. Don’t be afraid to answer negative comments. People want to be heard, and an answer is better than no answer at all. Other people will notice how responsive you are with concerns and will hold you in higher esteem.
Test One Change at a Time
Make small, deliberate changes and test them over a period of time. Don’t rush to make overnight decisions. Wait until you have a good amount of sample data to see if your changes were successful.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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