In this guest post Zfort Group reveal 5 common e-commerce UX design mistakes, plus how to prototype your way to better e-commerce platforms
Iterative prototyping is the key to developing a high-converting e-commerce website. Thanks to the 50+ successful online stores we’ve developed at Zfort Group, we’ve learnt what good user experience means for online shoppers. We’d like to walk you through several common product design mistakes made by online stores, and how you can avoid them.
First off, good user experience is vital for successful e-commerce. But don’t take our word for it. Just take a look at the survey data collected by KO Marketing in 2015.
- 44% of users would abandon an e-commerce website due to lack of contact information
- 42% would leave because they get distracted by animated ads or pop-ups
- 18% cite tiny text and stock imagery as motives for site (and purchase) abandonment
These stats show that users want information to be clear and quickly accessible. If that’s not provided, you’ll lose them to competitor vendors.
37% of users claim they get annoyed by poor design and navigation on website and that’s the main reason they leave. KO Marketing
That 37% figure means that almost 1 in 4 visitors might leave an online store empty-handed just because they didn’t feel comfortable with the basic user experience. For online stores with high margins, a seemingly small 1% of lost customers can translate into a lot of lost revenue.
Almost any UX mistake can be avoided by including prototyping in the web or app design process. Prototyping is not just about getting a sketch of your project; it’s about defining, testing and validating the whole look and feel of your future store. Through wireframing and prototyping, designers can experiment with the way products are displayed, on-page shopping cart location, navigation patterns, category grouping, and advertising banner placement.
At Zfort Group we believe that user experience is tightly connected to conversion and revenue generation. So let’s dive deep into the most common UX design mistakes that reduce e-commerce sales, and how to avoid them.
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Mistake 1: Lack of user experience research
Do your best to understand who your target audience is, study your competitors’ websites and your niche market in general. You have to understand and experience the whole customer journey and plan for each step. In the UX research stage, your primary goal is to understand the challenges faced by potential customers in discovering products.
Focus your research on critical points such as product description, contact information, and CTA placement. You can find more on that in a recent whitepaper on the major aspect of designing user-friendly e-commerce website interface.
Mistake 2: Neglecting your target audience
You can’t design an e-commerce website based on your own preferences. Online store development is a matter of considering your target audience’s tastes and habits.
Define two core user personas: those who are familiar with your brand, and those who are not. Define their age, gender, country, income, marital status, barriers to purchase, brands they love, and a lot more. Such information is often available online in a form of reports from resources like ComScore.
This way you’ll learn the things which work for your audience to implement them on your website. By learning the type of content they usually consume, brands they love, channels they arrive from, you’ll get a more grounded prototype.
Mistake 3: Ignoring paper sketches
Before investing in a coded design and wasting time, effort and money, it’s wise to develop a hand-drawn sketch and then move on to a non-coded prototype. A pencil ‘n’ paper sketch is quickest, dirtiest prototype, and it’s perfect for this initial design phase. It’s a simple, time-honoured, and proven technique with guaranteed result.
This way you’ll avoid multiple changes and get closer to the right solution. Even a rough hand-drawn wireframe can be guerilla tested on a small group of users, or even on unsuspecting colleagues outside of the design team. Your main purpose in developing this initial wireframe is getting user feedback as soon as possible.
In order to translate your sketch into a digital wireframe, make sure you’ve chosen an appropriate wireframing tool. A correctly designed wireframe reflects the way a user will interact with the website: build on your paper prototype by adding buttons, sliders or interactive menus for advanced experiences.
Mistake 4: Asking for user feedback too late
In a successful design and development process, prototypes go through several iterations. User feedback should play a major role at every stage.
If you have no one around to test your prototype, there are plenty of online usability testing platforms that provide access to your target user demographic.
There are a wealth of platforms and apps out there that allow you to to upload the picture or screenshot of your project and get results in real time. They’ll let you know where people click, how much time they spend exploring the page, how they feel about your website, and what they remember about your design.
By using similar services you’ll be able to hire real people to evaluate your website prototype and collect real-user feedback.
Mistake 5: No work on mistakes
After you get user feedback it’s time to analyze and implement what you’ve learned. So the most valuable element of prototyping an e-commerce website is the feedback you’ll get from target users. They can reveal those things they do not understand or consider to be inconvenient. Eventually, beta audience represents your future customers who will interact with the site and purchase.
To sum up: Help people make decisions easily
The core reason offline shops are still around is that people have no opportunity to test and feel things in the online world. But by designing a well-thought prototype (and website design as a further step), you can deliver as close to a real shopping experience as possible. It’s obvious you should choose appropriate e-commerce software and hire a smart development team, but the real drama is designing appropriate UX elements like large product imagery, 360 degree product view, etc.
By delivering a smooth shopping journey, you’ll take the cream of online sales and help your customer feel confident while purchasing. Never stick to the latest design trends, because your customers will appreciate valuable and well-organized information more.
And a final piece of advice: never rely on your best guesses, but base your decisions on research and practice!
Would like to learn smart insights on best e-commerce UX design practices? Grab a free copy of E-commerce Homepage UX Design Tips and get inspired!