How do you know if your site’s buying experience is working for your customers?

In our experience, we’ve recommended longer product descriptions, clearer photos, and consistent formatting to help brands appeal to their customers. We’ve also performed countless site audits that revealed errors that slowed down customer conversion, confused users, and ultimately reduced sales. Once our changes were implemented, sites got faster, bounce rates lowered, and sales increased.

Ecommerce brands rely on fashioning a virtual experience that satisfies customer needs and strengthens brand loyalty. A less-than-functional site will easily miss out on sales by souring users and deter customers from returning again.

Read on for tips about essential UX elements ecommerce sites can implement to increase sales and retain customers.

Put Your Best Foot Forward, and Fast.

If a website represents an ecommerce brand’s identity, its homepage is the first impression. Web designers have a mind-bogglingly brief amount of time to make a positive introduction,  50 milliseconds to be exact, and 94% of first impressions are related to site design.

Your homepage should be attractive, while remaining simple and familiar. Successful navigation relies on a visual hierarchy that is easy to follow, so avoid stuffing your homepage with too many options  (remember: whitespace is your friend) and ensure essential information like contact information, product tabs and checkout buttons are clearly visible. Boost conversion rates with large images that accurately (and flatteringly) depict your product or service. Also important: make sure your site loads quickly47% of user expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.

Consistency is Key

Consistency in site design does triple duty: it quickly teaches users how to operate your site, saves you time and money during the design process, and eliminates confusion and frustration on the consumer’s end. Utilize patterns in the placement of tabs, text and visual elements throughout your site and consider visual hierarchy principles. Ensure users can move about your site without stopping to think, “How does this work?” as 42% of consumers have canceled a purchase due to difficulty navigating an online store.

 A Search Bar for the People

Some users will leisurely click through your online store, happy to find what they may, while others are looking for certain products and services in a hurry. A search bar is a must for ecommerce sites. Placing a search bar on every page, in a place customers know to look for it (54% of retailers place the search bar in the top right of their site, 30% in the center), with predictive or auto-suggestion capabilities will allow users to find specific products relevant to their needs and eliminate time wasted journeying through every tab and link.

Take it Personally

While online stores cannot recreate the same attentive experience of a brick and mortar shop, implementing elements of personalization to your site can provide a more tailored experience for users. As 74% of consumers are frustrated by websites without personalized content (whether offers, ads, or promotions), your site could benefit from implementing personalization based on browsing and purchase history, related products, and custom site greetings. Research shows 92% of companies experience uplift in conversion rates after implementing personalization tactics.

The Checkout Experience of Your Dreams

The average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is approximately 69%. There’s something about the checkout process that drives users away. While there is little to do for customers who aren’t prepared to make a purchase, a site’s cart design and functionality can affect the behavior of ready-to-buy customers.

There are countless ways to optimize an ecommerce site’s checkout process. The most important piece of checkout optimization is to test options and measure the change. There are however, the tried and true approaches all sites should follow.

To start, make sure your cart and checkout options are easy to locate and display the most relevant information about the products users have selected. Within the checkout page, exclude any additional menus or featured products, allowing the user to focus on the purchase process. Provide an easy path for cart modifications (items and their quantities), and present users the choice to continue quickly with a guest checkout option. For users who move through checkout with a registered account, consider executing a recovery email campaign enticing users to return to their abandoned items.

Want more tips and tricks about how to ensure your website is converting well? We can help with our comprehensive site audit that goes over every page from a technical SEO and user perspective and identifies what’s working, what’s not, and what to do about it. Learn more about it here.