Usability is a measure of the quality of a user’s experience when interacting with a website, people have been focusing on website usability since the explosion of the world-wide web in the 1990′s, but it is unfortunate that the usability of eCommerce site design is frequently overlooked.
The increasing availability of shopping cart software has led to an increase in the number of people launching internet stores. Many of these people are inexperience with advanced web design techniques and theories. Furthermore, many of them purchase cheap design work that doesn’t focus on the online store customer’s wants and needs. What the customer ultimately wants from an online store is to be able to find and purchase the products that they want as quick and hassle-free as possible.
When a customer visits your site, it is more than likely that if your marketing has been successful, they would wish to purchase a product from you. As a store owner, you need to remove every possible barrier between them arriving to your site and completing the purchase. The more barriers you make your customers climb over, the more likely they are to run off to your competitors’ stores.
While there are many possible areas of usability that can be considered for eCommerce design, we are going to focus on 4 key areas in this article. These 4 areas are navigation, searches, validation and checkout.
The navigation that you implement on your site is probably the most important aspect of usability, if your visitors can’t find their way around your site, you’re dead in the water.
It is imperative that you make sure your site navigation is clear, simple and in a prominent place on your pages. Although navigation is an area that is normally implement quite well in eCommerce sites, many fall short in their usage of markers to make sure the user knows where in the store they are. If they get lost and can’t find their way out, they are going to get frustrated. There is a number of well-tested web design standard to resolve this issue. Category tabs, dynamic menus and breadcrumb trails all help your customer find their way around your site.
If a customer lands on your front page and cannot immediately find the product, their initial action is to reach for the search box. So, it is important to ensure that your search box is obvious and easily accessible.
The other area of your sites search function that you need to pay attention to is the search results. It is necessary to make sure that your customers are getting the right results from what they searched, the products they are looking for.
It is important to make sure that your site validates against the W3C standards. Also, by making sure your site follows CSS and XHTML/HTML guidelines. It will ensure that your site’s appearance is replicated accurately across different types of web browsers and displays. Non-validated pages have errors that are autocorrected by the browser. How this works varies radically across different browsers and can result in the site being displayed incorrectly.
To minimise shopping cart abandonment, the usability of the checkout component is crucial. There are several important steps to take to make sure your checkout process is as user-friendly as possible.
- Make sure your checkout time is as short as possible.
- Don’t ask for any information that you don’t need, people are weary of giving away personal information.
- Remove all distractions from the checkout process. If they click away from the checkout page, they may never come back. This includes removing any unnecessary internal site navigation.
While there are other areas of usability you will need to consider when looking for shopping cart software, these 4 areas should get you started in the right direction.