How to grow an ecommerce business, using Usability Principles‍

October 1, 2021
 Min Read

Starting an ecommerce business is exciting, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Transforming your physical store digitally means that you have to understand the online behavior of your customers. You should always focus on creating a powerful user experience, and this starts with understanding Usability Principles, and applying them to your website.

Put the best stuff on your homepage

You have to realize that your homepage is the first page that customers will encounter most of the time. Imagine a cafe, where the door and signages are welcoming, the decorations are both beautiful and appropriate, the appetizing food and beverages can be seen from the windows, and the aroma and the buzz generated by customers enjoying inside lures people in. This is what you need on a homepage: your top products and offers can be seen, pages can be navigated easily, social proof like testimonials are present, and it’s obvious how customers can start ordering. You should do all of these things on your homepage elegantly, while making sure everything’s not cluttered but still easy to access. You want quality and simplicity in one comprehensive and powerful package.

Make the online store look and feel familiar

Learnability is an important part of usability. Your ecommerce website’s interface needs to be intuitive: it shouldn’t require instructions for a customer to find a product, add it to the cart, checkout, or get in touch with you. A customer shouldn’t feel like it’s their fault if something in the website goes wrong; it means that you didn’t build a familiar or intuitive website. It’s important to make use of what people already know, and the best way to achieve that is to not stray away from conventional designs of existing online stores.

Start by looking at your favorite online stores, and listing down why you like them. It might be because the featured products are always the latest or top-selling ones, or it only requires a few clicks to get from the homepage to the checkout page. Most ecommerce stores use similar concepts and features, and reusing them for your website is a must so you can meet your visitor’s expectations. People like patterns and recognition, and we handle familiar situations better than unfamiliar ones. By using conventional design patterns, you help customers buy your products quicker and reach their goals faster. 

Use actionable and accessible links

The core of usability is clarity. Every link and button on the website needs to be clear and compelling, while being contextually relevant. The entire purpose of your new user experience is to make the customer take action. Pronounced links and buttons with concise and clear action-driven words, placed right after a sentence, phrase, or product card, communicates clearly to customers to buy into whatever you’re selling. Use “Learn More”, “View Offer”, and “Buy Now” buttons appropriately, as it captures the intent of the customer, and make sure you’re delivering on a button’s promise on the following page it leads to. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you can imagine what will be shown in the next page after a button is clicked, and if what is actually there is close to or exactly what you expected.

Showcase testimonials

A potential customer gains more trust in products that have been tried and tested by others. Showcasing product testimonials adds credibility to your website and what you offer. Even if people find the product they are looking for, if they don’t trust you, all your efforts will be wasted. Make sure to dispel any skepticism by showing actual product photos, happy customers, and thorough reviews.

Create a responsive website

Since people are using lots of different gadgets to go online, it’s very important to have an ecommerce website that’s also responsive. Every responsive website will automatically resize to offer a native user experience, all while retaining features and delivering the best value. It’s important that your site can handle different screen sizes and slow connections. Mobile-optimized websites also get better search results on Google, and since most users are mobile, your store is more likely to convert visitors into customers.

Include security features

Simple things like an SSL badge is crucial in the ecommerce world, because people expect you to protect their data. If that doesn’t happen, then they walk away. Customers trust that online stores are always secure, so make sure you use ecommerce platforms that provide standard security features, like Shopify or WooCommerce, or even directly through Paypal or Stripe. It is also necessary that you have a Privacy Policy page that informs your user how you use their data, as well as additional pages like FAQs, Shipping, and Returns, to put them at ease as they browse and shop on your site. 

Make the checkout process fast and easy

It’s a good idea to have a function that allows you to remember all the content that your customers shared. Having abandoned cart reminders, or prompting them to sign up for an account to save their shopping session helps customers in case they don’t want to purchase at that moment. If anything, it will show that you care for the customer and don’t want them to lose time. 

Again, all cart to checkout pages should use conventional design patterns and features: Most ecommerce stores allow guests to checkout without signing up for an account, only ask for the information you need to ship out a product, payment should be the last step in the checkout process, and a payment acknowledgement via email is always expected by customers.

Include appropriate feedback

Once the purchase is complete people expect to see some result from that. They want to know if the product was added to cart, if a product is not in stock, or if the purchase is completed or not. So you really have to share information every time an action is made. It shows the customer that you understand his or her needs, and at the same time it prevents him from completing the same thing twice.

Usability means frequent testing

Just because you launched your website doesn’t mean your work is done. Frequent but strategic testing and iteration help make your website convert better, and this is best achieved through quick feedback loops. Talk to your customers on a regular basis, and ask them not only about the products they’ve bought, but their overall experience in the website and checkout process, and how it can be improved. The best ecommerce websites have people that are close to their customers, talk to them weekly, and combine customer feedback with data (from website analytics and business metrics) to constantly test, refine, and improve their stores and overall business.

Some final tips

  • Price is the most important part of the product page. Make sure it can be seen right away.
  • Make sure there are no dead links on your site. Tools like Ahrefs and DeadLinkCheck will help find these for you.
  • Add credibility to your online store by having an “About” page, together with your contact details and a physical address.
  • Make sure to be honest and precise about your business. Fix avoidable mistakes, such as incorrect grammar or misspellings.
  • Add relevant content, like product videos, frequent promotions, social media posts about the products, and blog posts about your releases and customers. This makes your store more “alive” and relevant for your visitors.

As you can see, growing an ecommerce website is all about convenience and offering customers a great value for their time and money. Good usability for ecommerce stores means accessibility, clarity, credibility, learnability, and relevance to their customers. Talk to your customers in their language, and show them exactly what they have to do in order to complete the desired task. The faster you do that, the better the results will be. One thing is certain, good website usability will help you go a long way. Try to use these ideas and you will have no problem growing your business the right way.

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