Our Guide to Improving Website UX
How to Improve User Experience on Your eCommerce Website
User experience (UX) is one of the most important aspects of any website. Taking users’ emotions, beliefs, and perceptions all into account, it refers to how enjoyable and easy it is for users to navigate your site and make purchases. A poor UX design will frustrate users, a good UX design will engage them.
UX is a concept that is closely related to user interface (UI), a term that alludes to the aesthetic elements of your website. Whilst UX focuses on overall usability, UI focuses on the visual interface itself.
Clearly, how the website looks and feels will affect people’s experience of it. Therefore, although these two terms should not be used interchangeably, they are certainly intertwined.
Before you can think about UI, you will need to think about identifying and solving user problems, and that is where UX comes in.
This blog is divided into three sections. In them, we will discuss:
- Why all eCommerce businesses MUST pay attention to their site’s UX.
- How to conduct a UX audit.
- What the most important things to look for are when analysing your site’s user experience.
The Importance of UX for eCommerce Brands
In today’s landscape, your eCommerce site should be at the centre of your digital marketing efforts. UX has been proven to impact both your site’s ranking and conversion rate.
Through conversions and retention, in turn, good UX increases sales and revenue.
How Does UX Affect Page Ranking?
Given that Google’s Search Algorithm has become increasingly user-centric, there is now an undeniable overlap between UX and SEO best practices.
Google pays very close attention to user experience, so much so that certain UX factors have become direct ranking factors, such as page speed and mobile-friendliness.
The introduction of Core Web Vitals (CWV) in 2021 exemplifies the continued overlap between UX and SEO. These are “a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web”. Google offers a small ranking boost for sites that pass the CWV test.
How Does UX Increase Conversion Rate?
So, good UX will help get users on the page and keep them there, but what about converting this traffic into sales?
User experience and conversion rate are intimately connected. In fact, a report by Forrester found that good UX can lead to a 400% uplift in conversions.
This is because the quality of someone’s experience on your site has a significant impact on their decision to carry out a transaction. A site that is enjoyable to use will naturally also convert.
In that same report, Forrester claimed, on average, that every $1 that is invested in UX returns $100, equating to an ROI of 9,900%! Such research makes it hard to believe that the business value of UX design is constantly overlooked by the eCommerce world.
Luckily for those who start investing in UX now, this oversight means creating a site with good UX is a surefire way to gain a serious competitive advantage.
The Importance of Mobile UX
Last year, SISTRIX found that 64% of all searches were carried out on mobile, a figure only looks like it is going to increase. Being mobile-friendly, therefore, has never been so crucial.
According to a study conducted by Sterling Research and SmithGeiger for Google, 67% of mobile users are more likely to make a purchase from a site that is easy-to-use.
If your site has NOT been optimised for mobile, this means that you will be alienating a lot of traffic. In turn, you will be missing out on many sales.
How to Conduct a UX Audit
The first step to improving your website’s user experience is a thorough, in-depth UX audit. A good UX audit will…
- Highlight the usability problems that are frustrating your users, and thus damaging your site’s conversion rate.
- Provide conversion-focused design solutions that remedy these issues.
Put simply, therefore, a UX audit has two key stages: identifying the problems and then solving them. The former is done through UX (or user) research and the latter is achieved through UX design.
UX research is the process of learning what end users want and/or need from your website, whilst UX design is the process of applying that knowledge to design a site that is enjoyable and easy to use.
If the end goal of a UX audit is to create design solutions that will satisfy your users and encourage them to make purchases, how else can you do that other than by getting to know them first?
In other words, you need to gain insight into the wants, needs, and expectations of your real-life users before you can start adapting your site to them. That’s where UX research comes in.
There are various ways that you can conduct user research, including:
- Screen recording qualitative data: analysing session recordings will allow you to see exactly how users interact with your site and identify behavioural patterns. Where do they tend to scroll? Do they struggle with navigation?
- User interviews and customer calls qualitative data: there’s no better way to understand your customers’ pain points than hearing first-hand what they think about their online shopping experience with you.
- Surveys and questionnaires quantitative data: once you have a good idea of some of the problems, a well-thought-out set of questions will garner some very helpful information. It also requires less effort than interviews and calls, so people may be more willing to partake in it.
Alongside UX research, web analytics will help you identify high-traffic pages (your homepage, category pages, best-selling product pages) that require particular attention.
After your research has helped you understand what frustrates and engages your users, you can then start making data-informed suggestions about what will solve these issues For example:
- Problem: analytics shows that your shopping cart abandonment rate is high and – by looking at screen recordings – you can see that users are often adding items to their cart and clicking straight off after seeing a load of form fields.
- Solution: your checkout process is too complicated and longwinded. You need to condense the checkout flow and make it more digestible to your users. You can find out how to do so in our guide to checkout UX.
These research-backed recommendations are essential to improving your site’s UX. In the following section, we will talk about a few important considerations for when you are (re-)designing your online store.
Tips for Improving the UX of Your eCommerce Site
Most of the ways that we will now discuss to help you improve your UX applies to all websites; however, we make sure to explain them in the context of eCommerce. Other tips we provide are specific to eCommerce sites. In either case, this information will help you create a successful online store.
Simple Website Navigation
Use clear navigation menus, keep the layout tidy and simple, and make sure all the important information is easy to find. For eCommerce sites, this means attractive product presentation and easy payment flow. Your site should be dictated by logic so that the user can intuitively find where they want to go.
Appropriate product classification and choice of top menu categories are also essential to improving website navigation. You want the most important – or maybe even the most popular – product categories to be the ones that are foregrounded.
If you are selling first and second-hand items, these two options need to be available immediately as top menu categories. The same logic applies when you are selling men’s and women’s clothes, for example.
Top menu categories need to reflect the decision that the customer makes early on when deciding what they want to buy. Eye-catching call-to-action (CTA) buttons should also help direct consumers to your site’s main offer(s). Ultimately, your job is to guide users through their journey to finding a product.
Simple additions, such as products filters and search bars, can also be all-important to the user’s decision to stay on or click off your site. In other words, the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity!
Make sure that you use effective typography; poorly designed text can be a real hindrance to a good user experience. Use an appropriate font size and style, whilst taking care with spacing and alignment. Most importantly, make use of clear and concise headings.
Headings, bullet points, and numbered lists will help guide your reader through the website and make your content easy-to-skim. An unformatted block of text that is not broken up in any way is a visual turn-off and may discourage the user.
On your product pages especially, you need to concisely highlight the USPs, benefits, and key features of your products. These formatting techniques allow you to do so.
Although you will carry out these changes on desktop, you will need to remember how your content will look on mobile. Taking a smaller device-width into account, for example, you must ensure that you do not put too much copy above the products on a category page.
If you do, a user will have to do far too much scrolling to get to the products. In turn, you are likely to lose customers who find it difficult to navigate or purchase items on a small screen.
If you want to supply additional copy to target keywords for SEO purposes, it’s as simple as putting added the copy below rather than above the products (e.g. using an accordion-style FAQ section).
You must always make sure that you are not sacrificing SEO for UX – both are important, so you will need to find a happy medium.
Utilise White Space!
Remember, empty white space is essential to your website design. Your website needs to be packed with engaging and unique content, but this content also needs to be allowed space to breathe. According to Crazy Egg, white space around your content increases user attention by 20%!
Personalised Product Recommendations
Good UX is very much connected to giving your customers as personalised an experience as possible; creating a connection between the user and the brand. For eCommerce sites, the use of personalised product recommendations is a great way to do this.
Again, it will help to guide customers to the right products and allow them to discover new ones. You often see this tactic used on eCommerce sites with the tagline “Customers who bought this item also bought…”.
Cross-selling items can be very effective, perhaps at a discounted price so the user knows that the website is tailored to their best interests.
For example, if your eCommerce site sells furniture and a customer adds a wooden item to their basket, why not create an automatic pop-up that asks them if they would like to purchase a specialised cleaning product that will help them maintain it? Subtle techniques like this could help boost your sales.
Back in 2015, Microsoft published a study that claimed that the average attention span of a human has decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds since 2000. This birthed what is known as “the 8-second rule” and became a hotly debated topic in the UX world.
Given that the rise of TikTok and other social media platforms has completely changed the way we consume content, the average human attention span could continue to decline.
Humans are visual creatures, and so this fact has made engaging visuals (and web design) a more important factor than ever to engage users as quickly as possible.
The images that you use should be high-quality and highly specific to what you are selling. Nowadays, a generic stock photo is easy to spot and, more importantly, it does not convey the unique story of your brand.
Responsive Web Design
A responsive site will adapt to the device being used, whether it is a desktop computer or a mobile. Especially since an increasing amount of people are using their mobile devices for online shopping, you need to make sure that your site responsiveness is optimised across all devices
Slow page load speed can be very disruptive and will directly lead to a higher bounce rate and a lower conversion rate. In fact, conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time (0-5 seconds).
Image file size is one factor that hugely contributes to a slow page loading speed, especially on eCommerce sites with a large number of product images on their category pages. Using websites such as Optimizilla to compress the size of your images could make a huge difference!
If you want information on your page loading speed for free, click here.
Customer Feedback Forms
This is a great way to get feedback from your customers about their experience using your site. It can help you identify areas that need improvement but can also help you gather testimonials for use on your website or marketing materials! Consider setting up automated feedback request emails after a customer’s first purchase.
Get an eCommerce UX Audit Today
UX is a vitally important part of any eCommerce site. By following the tips we have listed above, you can make sure that your site is as user-friendly – and thus conversion-focused – as possible.
If you want to explore how to improve your user experience at specific stages in the buying cycle, check out our guides on:
- Product page UX: to find out how to get customers to click “add to cart”.
- Shopping cart UX: to find out how to persuade them to get started on the checkout process.
- Checkout UX: to find out how to get them to hit that all-important “Place Order” button!
Trafiki is a London eCommerce marketing agency that specialises in providing UX audits and ongoing UI & UX design services to businesses looking to grow.
Our eCommerce UX audit is detailed, comprehensive, and utterly tailored to your brand. We will help you to create a website that not only looks great but is optimised for conversions. Click here to get in contact with us today.