There are many reports that contain ecommerce best practice guidelines.
Some reports have nearly 1000 individual guidelines in fact and in some cases these best practices conflict. For example, one such recommendation says keep it as simple as possible and breakdown the shopping cart in to steps in order not to confuse the customer. A conflicting recommendation says you should give the customer all the information they need on one page.
Of course each of these have dependencies and will affect the decisions you ultimately make when designing the experience.
Navigating through all the recommendations can be tricky and time consuming so I have collated some of the repeated best practice guidelines that do not conflict with each other. For each item I have included a link to the most relevant article on that subject so you can read more if you have the time.
These best practices augment those already established UX best practices for general UI design. These can be read about in Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things and on the Nielsen Norman group website. Those are just 2 of many useful resources for designers.
The only certainty in best practice guidelines is that they will evolve. And rapidly. This is why testing should always be at the top of the list. The rest are in no particular order.
Test different versions of your pages. A-B testing, MVT testing, any testing is better than no testing.
This one is a universal accepted best practice and is essential to ensure we are always looking at the improving the experience for users, building customer loyalty and revenue for our clients.
Deliver exactly what works best to the user. Increased sales and customer loyalty.
Not ‘submit’ but ‘Go to payment options’. Imagine road signs that direct you off the road in the correct direction (left, right or straight on) but do not tell you where you are going. It doesn’t work. Make sure your button labels relate to the action the user is about to do.
Giving user sense of system control, where they are and error prevention. Studies have shown marked increase in people clickthroughs when using this technique.
Customers who do not shop online with you can be put off by the perception of long and dull registration forms. Allowing people to checkout as ‘Guest’ reduces shopping cart abandonment.
Reduces shopping cart abandonment therefore increase in conversion.
Many studies have revealed an increase in conversion where shopping carts have removed distractions from the process on the assumption that a user is already committed to buy so you should not give them an easy way to get distracted away from the shopping cart experience.
Reduces shopping cart abandonment therefore increase in conversion. Beatiful design.
Security reassurance is not simply displaying a padlock symbol. It can be any number of things to give the user confidence in the store they are using from phone numbers to online assistance. So think brand awareness and clear contact information as well.
Brand trust and loyalty. Increased conversion and revenue.
Rich images are not only great from a design point of view but also tell a story. A picture says 1000 words. Large images that show detail have been shown to increase conversion.
Users glean information from large product images that may not be apparent from the product description.
If someone is browsing for cheese, perhaps they would like chutney to go with it. Or if a customer has bought a series of fishing related products, are they likely to be interested in the latest fishing reel? Amazon are famous for their product suggestion algorithm.
This enhances the experience by suggesting sensible additions to the cart so is useful as well as good for revenue.
This may sound like an obvious one. If a user can not find a product then how can they buy it? This incorporates clear and clickable categories, searchable products, duplicate categories if required and recently viewed.
Customer experience enhanced and therefore revenue.
This list represents the majority of guidelines that are currently available. They all count towards the ultimate goal for customers – improving the experience and increasing revenue for clients. Having taken all these in to account we must continually test, improve and build on the collective knowledge our industry is building up.