5 things to get right for a successful eCommerce UX

John Williams
August 20, 2020
6 mins

For businesses to differentiate in e-commerce and benefit from the considerable surge in traffic caused by the pandemic, they need to fill the experience gap created by social distancing in stores. However, before you can even begin to innovating your user experience, there are 5 fundamental UX principles you need to consider first.

1. Design for mobile

It is vital to deliver compelling mobile e-commerce experiences as those who have a negative experience on mobile are 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future. On top of that, mobile has accounted for half of the website traffic globally(Statista) since 2017.

For eCommerce, mobile is even more critical as Amplience data reveals that mobile surpassed desktop (70% average) as the means for interaction in e-commerce. You can't rely on an attractive native app either. 50% of smartphone users are more likely to use a mobile site for browsing and shopping as they don't want to download an app.

On July 1 2019, Google implemented its mobile-first indexing by default, meaning the Google search algorithm will prioritize mobile-friendly websites. If your site is not mobile-friendly, it will be pushed further down Google search results.

Stats from SaleCycle point out that although mobile traffic is higher than desktop, conversion rates for mobile are close to half that of desktop globally (1.82% mobile, 3.90% desktop). They also register a gap between those who browse and those happy to purchase on mobile. Many studies highlight improving mobile UX, particularly mobile-specific UX elements, boosts mobile conversions.

2. Performance is critical.

Website performance is a fundamental factor for user experiences. A research study equates the stress incurred of waiting for slow pages to load, to the anxiety of taking a maths test or watching a horror movie. This level of stress might explain why 53% of mobile users won't wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to load. A site's performance on mobile devices is especially important for SEO as it is a significant factor in Google search rankings.

Page speed has a dramatic effect on e-commerce, as approximately 70% of users agree that page speed influences their likeliness to buy. Google attributes a 1-second delay in mobile page load to a fall in the conversion ofup to 20%. In a Radware blog post on how page speed affects conversion, they report that:

  • Walmart gained up to 2% on conversion for each second improvement in page speed

  • AutoEverything cut load times by half resulted in a 9% conversion increase

  • Firefox reduced average load time by 2.2% and increased downloads by 15.4%

Furniture Village alongside GreenLight reduced page load time and page size by 20%, through code refactoring and using Amplience Dynamic Media to optimize image load - a significant component of page load. These measures resulted in organic traffic increased by 15%, bounce rate decreased by 9%, and mobile conversion rate went up by 10%.

3. Invest in design

You have a robust eCommerce infrastructure, superior logistics, paid ads directing more customers to your site and optimized your website to be super fast but still, all that could be in vain if your site design is inadequate.

Customers decide within 50ms what they think of your site. This initial option has a significant bearing on whether customers stay on the site and how satisfied they are with future interactions. First impressions are 94% design-related, and a further study shows 46% of consumers base the credibility of a website on its visual appeal and aesthetics, including layout, typography, font size and colour schemes.

Images are crucial in the design of an e-commerce site. Striking images attract attention, emotionally connect and convey your message through visual storytelling. The post "You look where they look", explores how images can even direct users attention and increase conversion. However, be careful customers will ignore non-contextual bland stock images and see them as visual noise.

Don't go with colouring in an out-the-box design template from a platform as your design is fundamental for differentiating your e-commerce site from the herd. The best website designs will captivate your customers, reduce bounce rates and ultimately your increase conversion.

4. Build UX for your customers

Don't let technology define your UX. Instead, base it on your actual customers. A subject that Ian Rosen(VP, Digital Strategy) addresses in the section How Harry Rosen is putting customers first with headless commerce in the recent Amplience summit.

He explained how e-commerce experiences have become commoditized and controlled by large platforms software and suites. He further explained that to get a unique shopping experience Harry Rosen is renowned for they needed to take full control of the UX. They concluded that only a headless architecture approach would empower them to build the differentiating UX that puts their customers at the forefront of the design.

5. Your experience must be locale-sensitive

Local context plays an essential role in considerations for UX design if you misinterpret the target culture the UX won't be just unsuitable but offensive. Things to you must watch out for in when localizing a user experience include:

  • Culture references for colour choices - colours can have significant meanings in different cultures. Blue can symbolize masculinity in North America and Europe, but in China, it is considered a symbol of femininity.

  • Component sizing and orientation to accommodate text for different languages - navigation design can be particularly sensitive to longer word and test orientation

  • Iconography - shopping carts icons may be different for different countries, and components like burger menus may not be are cognizable at all

  • Gestures and social cues used in images and for icons need to appropriate for the cultural context

  • People and clothing - images of people, clothing and anything is remotely seen as sexual should be handled with great care across borders

An essential aspect of localizing a user experience is understanding how your brand is viewed in different countries. Charlie Cole (Chief Digital Officer, Samsonite) discussed In the "Amplience London's calling" headless summit how Tumi delivered unique navigation experiences depending on a countries exposure to the Tumi brand. The US site presents product-driven navigation where the brand is well known, whereas the EU sites are discovery-based to help establish the brand more clearly.

The move from frictionless commerce

My previous article highlighted the importance of delivering the table stakes of e-commerce:

  • fast, reliable shipping

  • reasonable pricing

  • easy returns

  • an excellent product assortment

It also highlighted that e-commerce needs to fill the experience gap caused by social distancing in stores moving away from just frictionless to more fun commerce.

This article provides the basic tenants of building an eCommerce experience. But it doesn't yet address how they need to evolve from the frictionless utilitarian designs of today to be more fun, immersive and engaging. If you have any questions, just get in touch!