eCommerce is the present and the future, and the meteoric rise of eCommerce platforms are proof of that. Now more than ever, having an eCommerce store has become the key to retaining and exploring new market bases.

The eCommerce platforms are sometimes a shopfront in themselves and also act as an extension of the physical businesses, providing them with greater leverage in terms of market research, promotional activities, greater business efficiency, and higher profits.

Talking about designing for eCommerce websites, a good design stands for good customer experience and comfort, efficient information delivery, strong branding, and cast-iron reliability.

In this blog, we’ll talk all about designing for eCommerce- from the different types of shoppers to keep in mind when creating user personas to the elements to consider when designing for eCommerce websites.

User personas

Customer personas are a vivid cross-section of the different types of users- their different preferences, pain points, psychographics, and purposes. Creating customer personas has a widespread utility.

Gaining a deeper understanding of the audience can help determine which features or initiatives to prioritize to ensure a seamless and engaging shopping experience. By employing several qualitative and quantitative methods for persona research, it is possible to identify the potential customers and design accordingly.

Here are some types of shoppers an eCommerce website comes across every day.

Product Shoppers

An important user persona to remember when designing for eCommerce is the product shoppers. These are the kind of shoppers who do not hover around the website much as their requirement is already identified and shall seek for the same. If the product they are looking for is available, they will check out without exploring the website any further.

Product Shoppers are quite prominent visitors of any eCommerce website, making it necessary to provide a smooth and fast purchase experience for customer convenience, in terms of fast and accurate product search, flawless payment gateways, and optimized suggestive/substitute options.

Window Shoppers

Window Shoppers are those who do not have a predetermined objective for the purchase but are simply there to explore the options. Window Shoppers spend the most amount of time on the website, making it important to engage them through better UI, discounts, or more surfing options even if they are not potential buyers.

Researchers

Researchers are customers having a predetermined objective to surf or visit any website. They generally take their time till they have found what they need, which could be a big discount deal, a specific product, EMI Availability, apt product descriptions, etc. They would go through all the available information to make an informed decision. To build a relationship with Researchers, enabling a fast, precise, and smooth experience are the things you want to ensure when designing for eCommerce.

Bargain Hunters

Bargain Hunters are shoppers who have a limited budget and are constantly looking for the best possible minimum price to close the deal. Bargain Hunters take no time to switch to the competitor if they don’t find what they’re looking for.

One-Time Shoppers

These are shoppers who are (most likely) not going to buy the same product again from your website. Their motivating factor for the purchase could be a heavy discount, specific need, or just an impulsive buy. They could also be a channel through another source who might have just gifted them vouchers, gift cards, etc.

A “No Account required” purchase would be the best experience for any One-Time Shopper as they are generally not familiar with your website, making them want to complete the process quickly.

As an eCommerce business, ‘Product Shoppers’ & ‘Researchers’ are the user personas that you want to be able to provide a great user experience too. When designing for eCommerce website, you want to consider them as your primary visitors, as they are the ones who would provide long term value to your business.

Common UX Problems

Some common UX problems that customers face when using an eCommerce platform are:

Trust

With the increasing numbers of online retailers, lack of consumer trust is a major hurdle that eCommerce platforms face. These trust issues include fear of late delivery or receiving a wrong item, distrust of returns policy, etc.

Incomplete Product Information

Lack of complete product information is another problem people face when shopping on an eCommerce platform. When buying from a physical store, customers have the choice to touch and feel the product and decide whether to buy it or not, but when shopping online, the product descriptions are what they rely on. Incomplete information about products hampers the conversion rates.

Product Returns

Customers often hesitate to purchase from an eCommerce website due to the fear of facing difficulties in returning the product or getting a refund.

Hidden Charges

Customers are often met with hidden charges during the final checkout process making them abandon the site altogether. Most customers want to know the total charge of buying a product right away to save time.

Approach to UX/UI when designing for eCommerce

Design in eCommerce plays a vital role. If the website builds a great experience by providing the customers what they’re looking for through simple micro-interactions, appealing product descriptions, substantial details, and more, it’ll directly influence the conversion rate and profits for the business involved.

A few perspectives that can help achieve these through design are:

Design for trust and security

Trustworthiness and transparency are elements to keep in mind when designing for eCommerce. Especially in a time when there are so many eCommerce platforms and a few bad apples present in them, it is difficult for the customer to trust every platform online.

A few ways to overcome this are by sharing an overview of the business along with merchant information, publishing the purchase policies about shipping and returns clearly in an easily discoverable way, share product reviews of customers, etc.

Intuitive Navigation

A good design is more than mere aesthetics. A trendy and fancy-looking website will manage to elicit some ‘wows’ from the customers, but its success will be determined by the number of purchases made or products sold. This happens when the customers have a seamless experience and make it through all the steps of the process effortlessly.

Intuitive navigation plays a chief role when designing for eCommerce. However, it doesn’t just happen by chance. It is a result of the detailed planning of Information Architecture and Information Design. Information Architecture (IA) is about how the content is arranged, so the users can find what they need without any effort. On the other hand, Information Design (ID) ensures that the users can comprehend the key information they want to convey without information overload.

Both Information Architecture and Design help create a solid foundation for the future navigation system to increase the functionality and usability of the website. Thus, IA and ID together guide the navigation design to ensure the users have a friction-free experience.

Channel-Specific Landing Pages

Landing pages are important and are also to be considered when designing for eCommerce websites. eCommerce landing pages are like digital shopfronts. These are pages where customers land when they click on a link, such as advertisements on social media platforms or emails, or similar places on the web. Landing pages are designed for a single specific goal with a straightforward CTA (Calls-to-Action). They differ from the home page or the product pages in the way they are designed.

Landing pages are designed for target audiences with a clear CTA, to encourage customers to take a particular action. The content and product descriptions are customized for the target audience and are considered best for marketing campaigns like those on Google, Facebook, or Instagram.

On the other hand, the product pages are designed to provide all the product information to the customers, with additional pathways of site navigation and product categories, and are meant to appeal to the masses. Since the landing pages have fewer tantalizing clickables, they keep the visitors focused on the offer and turn them into customers.

Product Search and Discoverability

The ultimate goal is to sell the product, so product placement is also paramount when designing for eCommerce. Simply put, if the customers can’t find the product, they won’t buy the product. This is a make-or-break feature for an eCommerce website and building a search function that helps them find easily what they are looking for.

Make search omnipresent by placing a search box on every page in familiar locations so the users can easily recognize it.

The auto-complete functionality can help the customers search for products easily and also save time, increasing the sales potential by suggesting products that are already being popularly searched for.

Sorting and filtering of results allow the users to search according to their criteria. Having too many choices can mislead the customers. Filtering helps narrow down their search to the desired product directly.

Showing related products can improve discoverability. These can either be similar products to the one being searched or related items that can complement the existing one. An example of this can be the styling options that fashion eCommerce websites provide to their visitors for the item that they are viewing.

Product listings and descriptions

With eCommerce, customers cannot see, touch, or feel the product. The closest they come to know about the product is by its description and pictures.
Thus, the product descriptions should contain all the necessary information to make an informed decision like the available sizes, colors, materials used, quantity, etc. These should be appealing and to the point. They can either be a paragraph long providing all the information right away or written as a summary followed by a ‘Read More’ link below.

At the same time, the pictures should be clear and large enough, covering all aspects/angles of the product. We, as designers, ensure that the product pages allow a lot of images. The fewer questions the customers are remaining with, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

To sum it all up, when designing for eCommerce, it is also very important to provide the ability to give detailed information about the products and in a way where it fits in with the complete design of the website and doesn’t feel out of place.

Closing the deal: The Shopping Cart and Checkout

The shopping cart and the checkout is where the magic happens and it should be treated as such when designing for eCommerce. The Shopping Cart is the second last step to closing a deal. We believe that the only thing that can come in the way of a good website experience and making a purchase is a painful checkout process. The shopping cart page should be user-friendly, encouraging users to continue further.

Some elements we keep in mind to enable this are:

  1. Use of a clear call-to-action, the primary one being the checkout button. 
  2. Providing adequate feedback to avoid confusion. The product added to the cart should be confirmed. 
  3. Use of mini cart widgets so customers can add more items to the cart without having to switch between pages. 
  4. Making all the shipping costs or taxes clear at the outset to avoid any surprises.

Once the items have been added to the shopping cart, most websites have the checkout option right there to direct them to a page requesting shipping and billing information. This step should be quick and easy. Having too many pages requesting information can make the users abandon their cart. 

A few things we keep in mind when designing the checkout page are:

  1. Allowing guest checkouts.
  2. Order confirmation after the purchase.
  3. Showing all payment options.
  4. Showing customers that the site is secure and more.

Responsive Design

This is an important element in designing for eCommerce. A responsive and mobile-friendly design is a must for eCommerce since most of the purchases happen through smartphones. It is important to provide the customers a good, if not better, experience on their mobiles just as much as their computers/laptops. A well-optimized website can bring more sales and improve conversion rates for your business.

Strong Branding

Branding tells users about your business. Before we jump into working on the design process, we learn all the necessary information about your brand i.e. the USP of the product, target audience, positioning, tone, and choice of the brand, and more. All of these points directly influence the designing for eCommerce and reflect the values of the brand through design to users.

Storytelling is one way of branding to distinguish your business from others in the marketplace. It focuses on showing the customers how your products can solve their problems rather than telling them how great they are. For example, Apple identified their brand story as user-friendly and simple which is conveyed through their brand design, using a minimalistic logo, product design, packaging, UX, and UI.

Aligning the brand with the emotions of the customers helps to build meaningful connections and foster trust and loyalty. Design plays an important role here by conveying this story to the visitors visually, aurally, and in writing.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of improving the shopping experience to turn visitors into customers through sales. It can be conducted on landing pages, product pages, or any customer touchpoints by employing the practices mentioned above. Utilizing strong UX by focusing on navigation, product information and the other aspects mentioned above can greatly increase the conversion rates of the business.

Closing Thoughts

Online shopping has become all about a good customer experience. It is not just about creating a website but converting passive shoppers into paying customers.

The elements discussed in this article are just a few of all the user journey design touchpoints we follow.

If you’re looking to build your eCommerce platform or learn more about it, write to us or call us and we’d be happy to discuss it further with you.

Have more questions about how we design eCommerce websites?

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