Best Practices for Maintaining a Great Ecommerce User Experience (UX)

If you’ve been keeping up with our posts over the past few months, you already know why a good user experience is critical, how to assess your current user experience, and what ecommerce features improve the user experience. Supplemental to the information linked above, there are certain best practices you can follow to help ensure that you are creating an efficient, effective, and enjoyable experience for your customers. Below, we discuss some of the actions you can take to maintain the most beneficial user experience possible.

1. Make your navigation intuitive

No one likes feeling lost, even if it's just in an online store. By having intuitive navigation, you can get your customers as comfortable as possible. If you're using a template for your store design, your first step will be to choose a template with navigation menus in obvious places. Look at the template's example, watch where your eyes fall, and see if you had any difficulties when locating the navigation. Once you're actually building your menu, make it as simple as possible—that means not having any more nav menus than what's necessary, and being very clear and concise in your selections.

Here are some additional tips for navigation:

  • Use a drop-down/“mega menu” to avoid a cluttered top-of-page
  • Nestle sub-categories under their corresponding categories
  • Include “breadcrumbs” so customers can trace their journey through the site

2. Use high-quality product images

For the best UX possible, you'll want high-quality product photos. High-quality images will place your products in the best, most accurate light possible, which is a plus for both you and your customers. With high-quality photos, you get to showcase the quality of the product you're selling, and your customers will get a good idea of what they're buying. Low-quality photos are like a customer walking up to a physical store and seeing your products through a smudged and dirty display window—although that pair of shades may be exactly what they've been searching for, there's no way they'll be able to tell by what they're looking at.

Here are some additional tips for product images:

  • Have more than one product photo for every product
  • Have product photos taken from different angles
  • Have a product photo for each color or variation
  • Enable zooming
  • Be consistent in your photography style

3. Include product videos

Although your ecommerce site may not be able to reproduce your customer's experience of picking up a product and looking at it, it can come close by having well-made product videos embedded in your product pages. Product videos bring a product to life by both giving your customers information they may not have gleaned from the product information and getting the customer to imagine what owning the product would be like. They can also help you improve your SEO rankings, since Google and Bing include video snippets in their search results and searchers are often drawn to them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to product videos:

  • Don't make them too long
  • Make sure they're high-quality
  • Brand your videos
  • Make your product the star
  • Be consistent in your style

4. Present a clear call-to-action

When you’re ready to close the deal, don’t make the user guess what they should do next. Offer a clear call-to-action—like “Buy Now,” “Add to Cart,” or “Get a Quote”—followed by a way to make that action as easy as possible to execute. Offer any purchasing incentives that are available, like free shipping or bulk discounts. Make sure you’ve been upfront about fees or anything else that might turn people away at the last minute. And finally, ensure that your checkout process is seamless, secure, and self-explanatory straight through to the “thank you” page and confirmation email.

Here are some additional tips for calls-to-action:

  • Make primary CTAs “buttons” to encourage shoppers to “press” them
  • Limit to one primary CTA per page
  • Use action-oriented language
  • Use contrasting colors to make CTAs stand out

5. Have contact information in an obvious place

If there's one thing you can count on, it's that your customers will have something they want to say to you—whether they're asking questions, making comments, or otherwise. A dedicated "Contact Us" page is a great start, but you can do even better from a UX standpoint. In addition to creating a "Contact Us" page, put your contact information in the footer of your website so that it is easily accessible from every page. Really though, you can include your contact information anywhere so long as it's out in the open and easy to find.

Here are some additional tips for contact information:

  • Display all “table-stakes” information like business address, phone number, and email address
  • Make sure you have someone available to answer customer questions via phone or email
  • Include business hours so customers know when they can expect a response

Final Thoughts

Creating a positive user experience for your shoppers doesn’t have to be a daunting task—as long as you adhere to these widely-accepted “rules” of user experience, you’re sure to have an ecommerce site worth exploring further than the homepage. If you really want to up your UX game, study sites you like to see what they are doing to make the experience great, and see if you can replicate their tactics on your own store.