What makes an e-commerce business successful? A vast and varied inventory, multiple ways to accept payments, friendly and helpful customer support via multiple channels, or on-time delivery? Yes, all of that. Plus an easy-to-use and visually interesting website, as it is the ease of interaction with a site that can make a real difference.
In this post, we’re going to explain what user experience (UX) design is, describe 8 UX design mistakes that can be devastating for an e-commerce business, and suggest some steps you can take to avoid them. First, let us define UX design and list the main benefits that it can bring for an online-based company.
UX DESIGN AND ITS KEY PRINCIPLES
You can come across many definitions of UX design. In a nutshell, all the ways in which you interact with software, be it a website or desktop/mobile application, starting from the number of links you have to click to get to a specific page and ending with the place and size of a button within the browser window become the elements of user experience design.
Normally, when people use a software product, they tend to give it a higher score if …
… it’s easy to use
… it’s visually interesting
… it’s useful for them
A UX professional should be striving toward designing an application or website that meets those basic requirements. In other words, a UX designer’s ultimate goal is to enhance user satisfaction with a software product by making it more usable, accessible, and desirable.
To achieve that goal, UX designers should be guided by these key principles:
- Be human. Software should be created with people in mind, not machines. All interactions with an app or website should be meaningful to humans. Leave computer language to computers.
- Be easy. This suggests being consistent in the design of website elements and defining the more important/less important elements by means of a visual hierarchy.
- Be contextual. A user must know where they’re on a page or on the site as a whole. One example of how context can be provided is the breadcrumb navigation.
- Be findable. If the content of a website is not organized into categories, sections, or other logical units, users will have a hard time searching for the information they need. That discourages the user from searching for anything on this site. It’s like coming to a library where the books are not arranged in A-Z order.
- Be simple. There must be no distractions: that is, everything that averts a user’s attention from your most wanted action. This includes distracting fonts and colors, moving images, additional CTAs with high contrast colors, and other elements. You should also use simple vocabulary and avoid jargon.
Break one of these rules, and you’re in the risk zone. Stick to them, and your chances for success increase. Here is why.
HOW CAN A GOOD UX DESIGN HELP AN ONLINE BUSINESS?
It Increases the Conversion Rate
The e-commerce industry is extremely competitive. Suppose you’re looking for a pair of shoes online, and you’ve found two local websites selling footwear. You search for a specific model on the first one only to get frustrated — so cluttered and hard to navigate it is, with the search results completely irrelevant to the term you’ve entered. A search on the second site produces the exact match in a split second.
Which of these sites will you choose to spend your money on? The answer is obvious. Other visitors are likely to follow your suit.
It Contributes to Higher SEO Rankings
Google changes its search algorithm quite frequently. One characteristic of a website this search engine will always value, though, is user experience. The tech company cares about its reputation. Therefore, it ranks online resources with a better UX design higher on the search results pages.
It Helps Attract More Leads and Retain Existing Customers
An easy-to-use website is not only a magnet for new visitors. Smooth interaction is also a great factor that helps businesses retain the existing customer base. A good UX design contributes to building trust in a brand, service, or product. It’s one of the most effective ways to establish long-term relationships with customers. A regular customer is a constant source of income.
So, if you want to enjoy those benefits too, you should pay close attention to the UX design of your online store. First of all, avoid these common mistakes that violate the principles we mentioned above.
UX DESIGN MISTAKES THAT MAY RUIN YOUR BUSINESS
1. Excessively Long Forms
A form is a good way of collecting valuable information about your customers. However, not all forms are created equal. It all depends on why you need a customer to fill out a form. When it comes to shipping something to the customer’s address, more detailed data is required in order to prevent the goods from being sent to a wrong location.
On the other hand, if it’s just an e-book for download, what’s the point of including the physical address field? Remember: the more fields a user has to fill in, the sooner they will want to quit your website.
What you can do
Consider different scenarios when you want your visitors to complete forms. Review each form and keep only the most relevant fields for a particular situation. Read this post to learn how a longer form can affect the conversion rate.
n addition, make your form fields sequential and structured. You can achieve this, for example, by dividing them into categories or arranging them in an ordered list (see the image above).
You can also simplify working with some fields as much as possible by using the autocomplete feature. It loads a list of options below an input field (take the Google search field, for example), and the user can pick one of those options instead of typing the entire word or phrase. Another useful method is to include a date picker and dropdowns.
To sum up, employ every technique that helps the user spend as little time filling out a form as possible.
2. Too Much Textual Content
An online store is not meant for reading, right? Its main function is to sell products or services. Including too much textual content may scare off your visitors. They’re not inclined to read long paragraphs.
What you can do
- Cut down the amount of text on your website. Review all of your content and select only the text that is absolutely necessary.
- Instead of lengthy passages, use ordered or unordered lists.
- Avoid making your text as wide as the content part of the page. Ideally, a line of text should be no more than 60 characters long.
- “Chunk” your text into small paragraphs. As scientific research has shown, people can hold from 5 to 9 items in their short-term memory. Otherwise, they get distracted easily and lose focus on the content they’re reading. So, make sure that your text is divided into paragraphs with a maximum of 9 lines in length.
- Replace text with visuals whenever possible. When your customers see a photo of something they want, it’s more likely to prompt them to make a purchase than when they see just a textual description of that item. Most people are visually driven.
Apart from photos, you can use infographics, videos, cartoons, and other visuals. Just remember to optimize images for the web, since high-resolution visuals may affect the loading speed significantly.
3. An Intolerable Avalanche of Popups
How annoying it is to see these and other popups covering the content you’re interested in every time you click on a link. Popups are one of the primary causes of a high bounce rate.
What you can do
Avoid bugging your customers with too many popups. Instead, find a place on the page where they can show up without interfering with your visitors’ actions. Also, give your users some time to view the content they want before asking them to do something through a popup.
4. Too Much Content Crammed in One Page with Not Enough Whitespace Around the Elements
Trying to cram a lot of content into one page without enough white space around the elements is a bad idea. Your visitors will find it hard to understand which of the elements they should be looking at first and which are less important. As a result, they may miss something business-critical, like a call-to-action button.
What you can do
You should leave enough white space around elements so that the target audience can pay attention to the most important of them, as well as to avoid cluttering your pages.
5. Insufficient Contrast
Low contrast between the background and the text is a big no-no from the UX point of view. It may serve as an artistic technique in certain situations. However, when it comes to product pages, a clear contrast is a must. That’s particularly true if an online store is intended for seniors, whose eyesight is often poor.
What you can do
Experiment with different contrast options to choose the best one. Show your pages to friends and colleagues and ask them if they feel comfortable reading the content. You can find a lot of helpful online tools to guide you in selecting the optimal contrast.
6. Too Many Navigational Layers
You want to give your potential or current customers as many choices as possible. While it is good from the business perspective, it can negatively reflect on user experience. Tons of menus and submenus may quickly discourage the most patient of visitors.
What you can do
Make sure your target audience can find your most valuable offers in just a couple of clicks. Everything that’s secondary or optional should have its own separate place on your website. Give your visitors a chance to easily get what they can benefit from above all else.
7. A Mishmash of Fonts and Colors
Remember that one of the principles of UX design is “Be simple.” Too many colors and fonts can make a website incomprehensible. They distract the target audience from the most important actions you’d like them to take.
What you can do
Limit your color scheme to two-three well-balanced colors. You can use this tool for the purpose of finding the best color combinations. Also, use no more than two fonts consistently throughout your site. Read this post from the Shopify blog to get a better insight into the use of fonts for the maximum effect in e-commerce.
8. A Hard-to-Notice CTA Button
Finally, there’s no element more important for an e-commerce website than a call-to-action button. After all, it’s only when your customers click it that your company gets revenue. However, it’s not rare to see some sites with a CTA button barely noticeable, subdued by the rest of the elements around it.
What you can do
Make your CTA button conspicuous by choosing a color, style, and text that make it different from the surrounding page elements. Where you place that button also matters a lot. Read this post to learn about the best practices for CTA placement.
Every online business that wants to succeed should make a good UX design their top priority. It can help in increasing conversions, improving SEO ratings, and establishing long-term relationships with existing customers. When designing a website, try to steer away from the pitfalls we’ve described in this post. While they are just the tip of the iceberg, by avoiding them you can make your website easier to use and acquire new customers.