What makes a great online shopping experience? People love online shopping for its convenience and efficiency. As competition is getting tougher, eCommerce market pays yet more attention to the way customers interact with webpages and provides solutions to greater, more exciting and satisfying user experience.
If you are working on creating a strong relationship with your customer, making your online store a user-friendly one should be high on your priority list.
1. Intuitive Navigation
Your competition to keep your new customer starts at the doorstep of your store, so start with providing fast and easy navigation. An online shop menu should be user-oriented and reflect your customers’ searching and selection process. Menu may be the most challenging element of your website design, especially if your assortment is extensive and requires deep navigation hierarchy. What do numerous research studies on product-finding experience suggest?
- Keep a consistent top level navigation bar,
- Depending on the depth of your website (i.e. the number of subcategories and number of their children categories), you may want to have subcategory breadcrumb displayed below the main menu or have the left side menu bar including subcategories to allow customers to migrate between sibling categories instead of starting their navigation from the top category all over again.
- It is ok to place the same subcategory in more than one main category if that helps people’s searching process,
- Have a consistent navigation model throughout the whole website.
- Choose clear and concise wording. Get rid of any redundant words. E.g. “Sale” instead of “Items on Sale” etc.
- Design matters. Use high-contrast colors for top menu and legible fonts.
2. Invest in Site Search
Site search is essential for customers who visit your online store knowing exactly what they want. If an item is not found in the matter of seconds, they are likely to go looking elsewhere. Up to a third of customers use site search, and these are the people very likely to purchase on the spot. But what makes a good search function?
- Make it visible. It is a good practice to place search in the top bar on every page to make it easy to find throughout the whole website.
- Relevant search results. Having a search option is not a benefit unless it produces good results that will save your client the time and effort looking for the right product.
- Autocomplete It makes search easier for your customer and helps you sell by suggesting goods within the searched scope.
3. Great product pages
You don’t want to get numerous product info enquiries or have hesitant potential customers dropping out from your store because they had no time to investigate further. Having proper, concise yet complete item description is a huge time saver for your client and eventually your customer service, too.
Using images is requisite if you are selling physical goods. Statistics say that most customers find product image more valuable than product description, rating or review. A product page with 4 – 5 high quality photos made from different angles helps customers take the decision to purchase.
Keeping page layout simple is all the more challenging when you need to provide all relevant product and payment information, up-sells, cross-sells, recently viewed items etc. But balancing clear page layout and noteworthy content is a high priority, and this is when designers come along with their solutions to structuring information and placing menus, links and buttons in the right places to minimize information load and clutter.
There are new themes and designs coming with Magento 2.0 released in November 2015. We have written about some of the best Magento 2.0 themes which are exemplary of excellent design and usability.
More on perfect product pages
4. Call to action
Using call-to-action buttons (or CTA) assist in shopping and checkout process, this also is a great way to prompt a user to buy. But make sure CTA design, wording and placement are clever:
- CTA buttons are for actions. Keep drop-down menus or check boxes for options, CTA buttons are there to complete a task.
- CTA buttons must stand out. Well-designed and carefully-worded CTAs make shopping more clear and convenient for your customer
- If customer stays in the same page after pressing a CTA button, it could be changed to a different CTA to avoid confusion. E.g. After “Add to cart” button has been pressed, it should be switched to either “Added” or “Go to cart” CTA, thus indicating that one item has been placed into the cart already.
5. Be mobile friendly
Because mobile payments no longer have the insecurity stigma, mobile sales gradually take over from desktop sales, and no serious online retailer has the luxury of ignoring mobile commerce segment and should provide its customers with mobile-friendly versions of their websites.
Although responsive websites require higher development costs, they are way more user friendly. Responsive websites easily adjust to all browsers and screens and are compatible with all Magento features and extensions.
Not only does your online store become more accessible to the ever-growing number of mobile device owners, Google search algorithm is set to prioritize mobile friendly websites above all others, thus making your mobile-friendly online shop more visible to new potential customers and ranking higher.
6. Reduce loading time
Shoppers are impatient. When they bring you their cash, the last thing they want is to wait for a slow online store to load. Unless a page opens lightning-fast, people tend to bounce – meaning open your page once and do not go any further. A recent research held by Kiss Metrics indicates that 40% of visitors will leave the page, if its loading time exceeds 3 seconds.
Besides, loading time is one of the ranking factors in the Google search algorithm.
We have already written about 10 ways to speed up your Magento website.
7. Speed up checkout
When it comes to shopping experience checkout process is the moment of truth. And as many online shops fail to satisfy, this is where you can outperform your competition. Checkout process must be clear and transparent:
- Keep checkout process to as few pages as possible. Keep the number of fields to the absolute minimum and, ideally, have a single page where customers enter their payment and shipping information. Should you really need to have multiple pages, at least have all checkout steps displayed at the top of the page to make the process more transparent for the customer.
- Unless a user wants to have an account with your online store and enjoy a loyalty program, registration should not be required.
- Enable social login. This is a relatively new feature for ecommerce websites but has already become popular for simplifying registration process.
- No redirecting to irrelevant pages, such as ads, returning to shopping cart etc. Nothing should interrupt checkout process.
- If payment process did not go as planned and customer is redirected to an error page, make sure it has a clear indication why the purchase cannot be completed (customer entered incorrect data or there is a credit card issue).
- Ideally, mobile device owners should be able to retrieve their payment details from a mobile wallet or a similar.
Read more about Magento solutions for one-step checkout.
8. Don’t hide additional costs
Hiding additional costs from your customer is not a good policy. Finding out about shipping or handling at checkout can be off-putting even to a customer who has gone through a long selection process. Being transparent translates to being trustworthy and your customer will appreciate this. According to Statista, finding out about unexpected fees is the #1 reason for online shopping cart abandonment.
9. Provide enough payment options
While customers appreciate online shopping for the variety of payment options they can choose from, there are still many eCommerce websites that limit payment options to the bare minimum: credit cards or bank transfers. In addition to the traditional payment methods (bank transfer, credit card, debit card), you should consider using Gateway systems (e.g. Paypal, Authorize.net) that facilitate processing of credit/debit card data.
More payment options for eCommerce include:
- Google Wallet
- Amazon Payments
- Intuit PaymentNetwork
Offering multiple payment options will provide your customers with greater convenience and help you sell more.
10. Be more accessible
Even if you succeed in putting all relevant information in the product description and indicating all the necessary payment details, your potential customer may still need your customer service to help out. Being easily accessible to your client is essential to your building a good relationship with him and deserving his loyalty.
- Keep your customer service’s phone number and email visible, as these are still the two most used channels of communication online shoppers use to get their problems solved.
- Live chat proved to be a very satisfying contact channel for many ecommerce clients. Magento offers a whole range of live chat extensions for ecommerce websites to improve your interaction with customers.
- Finally, it is possible to cut down your customer service workload by placing a range of standard enquiries in FAQ page. Apart from being helpful to customers, FAQ pages are actually great SEO boosters if properly written: search engines scan websites for key words to understand what type of businesses they are about and rank you accordingly in relevant searches.
11. Test and improve
Last but not least, SEO analysis comes in handy when you need to understand how customers respond to your website structure, content, checkout process etc. Regular usability analysis provided by MavenEcommerce as a part of our SEO service will help you identify the areas where your client needs improvements in user experience.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this blog post or anything else related to Magento, please feel free to drop me a message via this form. I am on the team performing Magento optimization for large Magento projects.