Design doesn’t just inform what a website looks like. It informs how users will interact with it, how long users will stay on the page, and whether the user will enjoy it. Whether an eCommerce site converts or not depends on a range of details but a big part of it is the web design.
Conversions: what are they and how do we measure them?
In eCommerce an average conversion rate is one to two per cent (1-2%). A good conversion rate is anything above two per cent (2%). Simply, a conversion in eCommerce is a sale. Where a customer has found your website – whether it be from social media, SERP, or another channel – and they’ve made it through to finalise a purchase.
But a conversion can be measured in other ways or in smaller goals. Maybe for the first three months of running your online store you’ll consider a user adding a product to their cart or a user adding an item to their wishlist a win. So that’ll be a conversion for your company specifically. Signing up for your store’s newsletter or sharing content on social media could also be considered a conversion.
Design your eCommerce website for the user
Designing for User Experience (UX) should be considered an essential for any website. Designing for UX in eCommerce is the difference between a waste of a website and a successful online store. Think about how users might use an eCommerce website and go through a purchasing process on some of those big name online stores to get a feel for the best design.
Little things like a search function can increase leads and conversion by helping users find exactly what they’re looking for. Product filters on eCommerce websites can boost revenues by 76% according to VWO.
Obviously, clear and good navigation are essentials for any UX designed website. When it comes to eCommerce, this is even more important. Think about the little things like how products are categorised, does it make sense to have the same product in multiple categories? In your product menus, ensure there are broad categories so the user isn’t overwhelmed, then break those categories into smaller, sub-categories.
Another neat idea that benefits your customer is grouping products together. Obviously products that are in the same category should be grouped together, but that isn’t what we mean. You can be more creative with this, but online retailers that make product suggestions, like ‘hey these shoes would go with that dress’ can see some success in this area. The same applies with suggesting or grouping products in a ‘hey, you have *this* dress in your cart, other users who liked that dress bought *these* shoes’.
Invest in cart abandonment software
Abandonment rates run between 60 and 80 per cent. Meaning in eCommerce, 60 to 80 per cent of users will add items to their cart, make it to checkout, and then abandon the cart. There are a range of different softwares and integrations that assist in the battle against cart abandonment. They can track when or where the process went wrong or became too much for the user. They can also retrieve the email address, if the user did begin to fill out the shipping information during checkout.
Using the software, you can email those abandoning users to follow up. You can make suggestions or help with any queries or discretions they may have with your product. Some stores have seen increases of up to 30% in their conversion rates after using cart abandonment software.
Prioritise quality and legitimacy
Online shopping isn’t new anymore but users still use it with some wariness. Anecdotally, I’ve heard of people who haven’t bought from a new online store because they didn’t have any bad reviews. They thought it was too suspicious for a website to only have positive reviews and they had a point. You can earn trust by having a fresh website that looks professional, but matches the business’ personality. Use high resolution photos of products, not just because it looks professional, but when you’re still working to earn the user’s trust, you need to remember they can’t touch the product. So they’re relying on vision… make sure what they see looks the best it possibly can.
Seeming overly ‘salesy’ can leave a bad taste too. Don’t have CTAs plastered on every sidebar, footer, and centre-page. A simplistic ‘Add to cart’ is fine, they know where it is. Make sure the cart is easy to find too, it’s now stock-standard for the cart to be in the top right hand corner, so if you’re going to veer away from this it needs to be done really well.
Optimise the checkout process for the user’s experience
The key to designing an amazing checkout process is to never, ever, underestimate how lazy people are. A checkout page should be simple and direct. There shouldn’t be advertising around the sidebars, there shouldn’t be extra suggested products. Suggesting extra products around the checkout process is a massive gamble because while there is every chance that the user will enjoy the suggestion, add it to their cart, and finalise the payment… there’s every chance they won’t. If they don’t select the extra product, but leave the checkout to browse and then don’t return, that’s a sale lost. If they do select the product, they may return to checkout and then be less pleased with the total, abandoning checkout again.
As well as never underestimating how lazy users are, never underestimate their impatience either. Providing a progress bar, or outlining where the user is in the checkout phase (shown in the image below) works kind of like letting a child on a long car ride know, ‘you’re almost there’. Users do tend to exit online processes if they don’t know how much longer it will go for. Allow guest checkout, because forcing users to create an account, again could result in just leaving, the laziness is real.
Never forget Mobile Optimisation
Online shopping isn’t really an ‘event’. It’s becoming pretty rare for someone to sit at their computer or laptop to browse online. Shopping typically takes place on the bus, on lunch breaks, basically in the user’s spare time. 38-39 per cent of users will leave a website if they don’t like the design or if it takes too long to load. Optimising your website for mobile is essential, especially in eCommerce.