[This article was written by Kelsey McKeon.]
When it comes to e-commerce, providing website visitors with a good user experience, or UX, can be the difference between winning a customer or losing a sale.
UX is the overall experience of a person using a product. Succeeding with good UX means providing customers with pages that are easy to use, have a clear interface, and have an appealing design. To find a good example, one does not need to look much further than one of the most successful of all e-commerce sites—Amazon.
In a recent Clutch survey of a diverse group 612 website users from around the country, Amazon topped the list of websites offering the best UX, named by 21 percent of respondents, compared to other popular websites, including Facebook at 16 percent, YouTube with 15 percent, and Gmail with 9 percent.
When people go online to make a purchase, 10 percent will visit Amazon, making it the most popular e-commerce site. It leads other large e-commerce outlets such as Ebay and Craigslist, according to the survey, and user experience plays a substantial role in Amazon’s success.
The Amazon Model
Amazon offers important lessons smaller business websites can emulate in providing good UX. The e-commerce giant takes a complex array of content and makes it simple for the user, even though its functionality is different from social media other types of websites. The intuitive process reflects a company that has taken care to understand the user journey.
What do online shoppers like about Amazon’s usability and design? It’s fast, reliable and non-disruptive. Equally important is what Amazon doesn’t do: waste people’s time. Users are not hassled by pop-ups or other distractions.
Use these tips to create a roadmap for your next meeting with a UX design company.
- Avoid Disrupting the Buyer’s Journey with Bad UX
Amazon wants customers to access the products and services they want as quickly as possible. The website rarely lets bad UX get in the way of the buyer’s journey.
Data shows that two UX problems threaten to drive away customers—websites that are unreliable, and pages that are slow to load. According to the survey, 54 percent of web users who find a site unreliable and 53 percent who experience slow loading will stay away from the webpage in the future.
Signs of unreliability—including error messages, broken links, or finicky forms – act as flashing lights warning customers to stay away. Certainly, they can quickly shatter confidence that your company knows what it’s doing.
“When it comes to unreliability, it’s really a matter of expectations,” said Dennis Lenard, managing partner at Creative Navy, a design agency based in London that focuses on UX and UI (user interface). “It’s one thing when you expect something to be easy, but it turns out to be not quite so easy. If you expect a page to be there, but it’s not there, that’s just frustrating.”
Waiting for a page to load is much the same. A slow load time can prompt 52 percent of users to permanently abandon a website, according to the survey. Mobile search overtook desktop search in 2015, and slow-loading pages could cause e-commerce companies to lose potential customers.
Working with proven user experience designers can help bridge the gap between intuitive design and technical aspects of building a website on both mobile and desktop.
When was the last time you saw a pop-up ad on Amazon? Pop-ups are unpopular among website browsers. The company’s intense focus on the customer experience – and its subsequent success – means minimal pop-ups on the website.
Use disdain for pop-ups is apparent in the survey – over half people will leave a website for good if they encounter a pop-up.
Even if a pop-up succeeds in engaging a user, it may not be worth the harm it can do to building a relationship with the potential customer. “What you don’t measure is the frustration you’ve caused,” said Lenard. “There’s not even a unit of measurement for that. You can’t measure it in clicks, in seconds, or pounds.”
Pop-ups may be a tempting way to grow an email subscription list, but unless your pop-ups offer express benefit
- Create Value with Your Content
Content brings people back to Amazon. Products are quick and easy to access online, and Prime membership offers guaranteed two-day delivery that puts Amazon ahead of its competitors.
Amazon’s UX strength is the focus on its content without overwhelming visitors. Despite its seemingly infinite and complex offerings, Amazon’s design makes it simple for the user to digest. Amazon’s website isn’t design-heavy. It’s all about the product.
Ultimately, it is useful content, more than user experience, that keeps customers returning to a website. Almost half of website users– 48 percent—named useful content as the top reason that they return to a website. User experience designers work to design with the content, as opposed to designing around it.
When designing your e-commerce website, or working with a design team, remember that content is the primary reason for visiting. You can keep the design minimal, as long as it is functional and helps people access your products quickly and easily.
- Establish Trust with Customers
Amazon is one of the most popular websites in the United States. Because so many people visit Amazon every day, Amazon’s website forms peoples’ expectations for other e-commerce websites’ structure and design.
Emulating the structure and basic design patterns of Amazon can establish trust with customers, and means they are less likely to have a frustrating experience with your website.
Having a design similar to Amazon’s can be helpful because visitors will be more comfortable navigating your site. The familiar design and navigation will make your site more intuitive because people won’t need to re-learn how to use your e-commerce features.
Someone browsing Amazon can count on getting good visuals and descriptions of the products offered. Amazon also includes reviews of the item as well as similar available products further down the page, offering the user the opportunity to compare items they are considering. These are common e-commerce elements that are worth adding to your site. They establish trust and credibility with users and ultimately will result in increased traffic and sales beyond the initial visit.
That doesn’t mean a carbon copy—don’t be afraid to add features or flourishes that might appeal to your target audience. Make your website your own, modeled after the success of a giant like Amazon.
Follow Amazon, the E-Commerce UX Leader
- Don’t compromise on UX basics such as speed and reliability. Asking users to wait while a page loads is the kiss of death. Make sure your pages and forms are reliable.
- Avoid using pop-up forms. They can distract and alienate your customers.
- Create value with your content, because content will bring people back to your website after their initial browsing session or purchase.
- Establish trust with potential customers by making your website intuitive, and providing accurate and valuable descriptions of products and reviews.
Following these best-practices, or using them as a roadmap to start a conversation with your web or UX designers, will jumpstart your e-commerce company’s success.
Kelsey McKeon is a Content Writer and Marketer at Clutch, a leading B2B ratings and reviews firm in Washington D.C. She covers web design, user experience, and online advertising research topics.