E-commerce Usability Tips: How to Increase Conversion and Delight Customers – Part 2

By Rob Pitt, Product User Experience Designer

When we left our hero at the end of “E-commerce Usability Tips: How to Increase Conversation and Delight Customers – Part 1,” he had discovered that the checkout process required him to enter lots of unnecessary information and he vowed never to purchase from the site again. In this exciting episode, we’ll talk about making the journey to purchase easy and enjoyable.

Spider ManThe phones in our pockets are more powerful than the computers we used ten years ago. With these devices we can track where guests go in our stores, and find out what they buy. We can customize the shopping experience for them to the nth degree. It becomes a constant challenge of privacy versus convenience. Which is more important to the user? E-commerce merchants are in a position to not only influence what guests want to buy, but to change what they will buy. It’s in the merchants’ best interest to make sure convenience trumps privacy concerns.

With all this information at our disposal we can present users with a cacophony of options or we can slim it down. By observing patterns in behavior and shopping habits we can create more convenient and easier experiences.

Do I enjoy buying things at Amazon? Sure it’s quick and easy.

Do I enjoy filling out forms? No.

Can purchasing something be enjoyable? Of course! Happiness and enjoyment are a side effect of good design.

What is the path of least resistance and what is the best choice for customers? Amazon, arguably king of e-commerce, has broken down the painful checkout process to a single moment of “Buy now with 1-Click®“.

Convenient? Yes!

However, think about all those moments when people are on their phones and accidentally order something they don’t want. Maybe your daughter spills a cup of juice. In the scramble to clean the mess, you accidentally tap “Buy now with 1–Click®” and order a new tablet.

gecko frustration

In the e-commerce world this may drive conversions up, but at what expense? Amazon did good by eliminating the pain points in the purchase process and removing noise, but may have introduced some other unintended side effects. Can we reduce noise and increase conversion without adding unwanted Juice Box Tablets™? Definitely!

Breaking it down and avoiding cognitive overload
Amazon removed distraction and complexity with 1-Click®. When a user has too many things to focus on, his attention is drawn away from the task at hand and is overwhelmed. This is called selective attention.

When we give users one task, they can usually complete it. When there is too much going on at once, they can easily miss some of the more important details. How can we help focus a user’s attention and minimize distraction?

Try a wizard approach. As users fill out the form, they are given a little more, a little more, a little more, until they are done. In the case of the checkout page, think of segmenting each section or limiting the buy flow. Consumers like to have visibility into the process so they can assess how much time and effort is required, and providing incremental steps addresses this need.

This is also a key point for ensuring conversion on mobile devices. Mobile users have different goals than those on a desktop. It’s OK to offer a streamlined mobile experience vs full featured desktop experience when it helps get users from point A to B faster.

mobile - do this
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Don’t take my word for it though, as with anything in the UX world I encourage you to test it with your own users and see what works better. In our next installment we’ll talk about trust and changing perceptions. See you next time, same bat time same bat channel!

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