When potential customers visit your ecommerce website, can they find what they’re seeking easily? Do they encounter snags as they try to browse—or check out? Do they exit your store feeling satisfied with their on-site experience? All these questions point to one important concept: User experience.
Long story short: Improving your ecommerce website’s user experience (UX) can boost sales.
User Experience Design: The Basics
“UX design” refers to “the process of enhancing user satisfaction” by “improving the accessibility and usability” of a site to boost customer satisfaction.
When UX design is successful, it’s undetectable in that customers are free to focus on browsing and buying. When UX design is poor, website visitors notice glitches and snags—and become frustrated, possibly exiting the site altogether. Even if a customer does complete a transaction despite challenging UX, they’ll be less likely to revisit in the future or recommend your store to a friend. This is why it’s so crucial to audit your site’s UX design, smoothing out any rough patches and optimizing consistently with your customers in mind.
Simplifying On-Site Navigation
A major component of UX design is site navigation. Customers can only browse and buy if they’re able to get from Point A to Point B.
Start with your home page. Knowing that customers move from general to specific, make sure your main navigation menu supports this journey. Based on usability testing, Baymard recommends including product categories on your main navigation bar to help customers fast-track browsing. This helps consumers avoid the dreaded “double-hover” in which they have to start with an all-encompassing “Products” tab on the navigational menu, then hover over two additional drop-down menus to find the correct sub-category.
Simplicity is key.
Make sure users can quickly discern where to click and understand where links will take them within your site.
Balance Appealing Design with Usability
The best ecommerce websites manage to balance appealing branded design with underlying usability. Many stores utilize premium web templates from a source like Shopify because the appearance is customizable while many of the core navigational elements are built in.
The challenge in this arena is creating a store with a unique look and feel while also adhering to tried-and-true universal principles of UX. Here are a few design-specific UX best practices to remember, courtesy of CIO:
- Limit primary color variations to about three.
- Use color to create a high contrast between on-page elements.
- Ensure text is large enough to facilitate easy readability.
- Include enough white space to aid readability and navigation.
- Make sure images are of high quality and informative.
Remember, the appearance and functionality of your ecommerce store must complement each other.
Make Sure Assistance Is Accessible
No matter how well you streamline navigation and design, people will inevitably have questions. Your store’s ability to address customer questions—or lack thereof—can easily dictate whether you earn sales and loyalty.
Site search is an important tool to offer, no matter how much work you’ve put into optimizing your navigation bar. Some people prefer to cut to the chase by entering a search query. The best site search tools are easily findable, usually in the right hand corner of any given landing page. Make sure results return as filterable options so customers can continue to refine searches.
It’s also safe to assume a percentage of your customers will want or need help along the way. Providing responsive assistance goes a long way toward cultivating a positive user experience. Live chat is a good way to answer questions and provide support on the spot.
Want to boost sales? Start by improving your ecommerce website’s user experience.