Written by Matt Warren
3rd October 2014 • 8 min read
While it’s now got its very own term, User Experience (UX) is simply creating a positive customer experience online. To help you look past the lingo, think of good UX as the opposite of all those bad websites you’ve visited where you can’t navigate to what you want, have to fill in endless forms and spend your time in confusion and frustration.
When it comes to UX, simple changes can make a big difference. It can take as little as changing the copy on a button to see a significant uplift in conversions. So here are some easy ways to improve the UX on your eCommerce site.
Let your products sell themselves
Good UX is all about smooth and simple browsing and exploration, so that the customer can quickly find what they’re after or be tempted by something new. Team this with the fact your buyers carefully source top products and strong visuals become more and more important as a showcase tool.
Large, high quality images are vital, but keep an eye on your page load time as lagging is not a good user experience. As well as multiple images, make sure your product pages include a zoom functionality. Not only will this help your customer see the product on offer, but is vital for mobile and responsive sites to show your products in all their glory on smaller devices.
Video is a fantastic online sales tool. For example, for some time now ASOS have incorporated a short catwalk video into their product pages. This means rather than relying on static photos, their customers can get a 360, moving view of each item. This has the double effect of increasing sales and reducing returns by helping to build a fuller picture.
This video approach also works well for more complex items. Instead of lengthy product descriptions or specifications, an assistant can talk customers through key features and unique selling points. As proven by AO.com, videos like this can help with big purchasing decisions like fridge freezers and washing machines, as they can show the product in action.
Rely on reviews
One of the keys to eCommerce success is to create an enticing yet accurate picture of each item. This balance of attraction and honesty means the customer not only wants to purchase, but also has a clear idea what they’re getting. Product descriptions and imagery go a long way towards achieving this; however, increasingly customers are looking to reviews to get a true idea of a product.
“Reviews can answer questions or address concerns that users have about the product, because they’re written from the perspective of people who needed or wanted, and actually used the product.” – Nielsen Norman Group
Depending on the platform you’re using, integrating reviews into your eCommerce site should be straightforward. Shopify has a free app that enables companies using its platform to integrate reviews, while customising the design to match site look and feel. Similarly, Magento has compatible product review extensions and for about £60 you can get extensions that include review moderation and data analysis. Even if your site requires dev work to integrate reviews, with 79% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations (source Search Engine Land), the ROI should be well worth it.
Don’t be lulled into thinking that bad reviews mean a bad user experience and good reviews a good one. Consumers are looking for a balanced realistic picture and as reviews are about building company trust, too much positivity is likely to look suspect. Opt for a review platform that lets reviewers provide as much detail as possible – you should summarise longer reviews, with a link to read more – then customers can clearly see if the review is overly picky. It may well be that what bothered a previous customer won’t be so important to the next. That said, if you’re consistently receiving bad reviews, especially about one element of a product, this should be addressed.
Shout about what’s new
Promoting new arrivals can not only entice new customers, but maintain the interest of repeat customers. Good navigation is good UX, so make your new arrivals are easy to find. Prioritise them towards the top of your left-hand navigation and create an eye-catching banner or module to link to them from your homepage.
If any new items are being promoted in above-the-line or editorial marketing, create a clear path to these online. Either on your homepage or relevant category page, create a custom ‘as seen in’ graphic so that customers coming to your site because of the coverage can get straight to what they’re after. If you’re reaping the success of your campaign and sell out due to the increased exposure, don’t leave your customers searching. Keep the product page live, but with a message about when the item will be available again and suggestions of similar in-stock products customers might like.
No nonsense copy
When it comes to the functional copy on your site – all those links, buttons and instructions – the user should be left in no doubt. If it’s a link, they should be totally clear on the page they’re going to, if it’s an input field they should know exactly what they need to enter, and if it’s a menu, they should understand what’s in each section.
If you have any underperforming pages, start by reviewing the clarity of the copy. Edits should be quick and inexpensive to make, such as directly into your CMS, and can really improve the UX. You can do this anecdotally by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes to see if all copy on your site is clear for those who don’t have any prior knowledge of your product or business. You can also use analytics tools to review the copy, such as a site heat map or interaction trackers. This approach is not only more accurate, but can be used to validate your conclusions to stakeholders.
Improving the UX on your site just takes a bit of common sense. Simply step back to see whether your product and brand are being shown to their best effect and if your site interactions are clear.
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Written by Matt Warren
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