Usability Best Practices For E-Commerce Websites

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It is critical for modern marketers to have a firm understanding of the word usability. After all, putting usability to work for you can have an extremely big impact on the success of any website. E-commerce sites can implement many of the best usability practices from standard websites, but they also need to take advantage of additional practices that apply to pages such as the shopping cart, shipping and billing addresses, payment options, shipping methods and order reviews.

Due to this, there is an extra layer of complexity that marketers need to learn how to utilize in order to create a highly usable online shop. Fortunately, this practical guide for online marketers will help you learn all of the best usability practices that should be applied to every e-commerce site, and it will also include usability tricks that can be used to boost the performance of specific e-commerce elements, including the ordering process and your shopping cart.

What exactly is usability?

Usability is a marketing tool that helps assess how user-friendly a website’s interface is. Additionally, usability is a term that can refer to the development of new design process steps that will improve the overall ease of use of the finished product. There are six main components that play an integral role in defining a website’s usability, and it is critical for designers to ensure that they pay close attention to all of these factors.

SatisfactionThe design of each website needs to be pleasant and easy to use so that it provides visitors with a high level of satisfaction.
Learning CurveEach website design has a different learning curve, especially when new visitors need to be able to determine how to complete basic tasks to accomplish their goals. With this in mind, websites that make each task clearly defined and simple to complete score high in the learning curve portion of the site’s overall usability.
UtilityFunctionality is a very important aspect of every site, and utility refers to providing users with exactly what they need.
MemorabilityCreating a site that visitors can figure out how to use relatively quickly is very important, but you also need to pay attention to how easy it is for people to memorize the tasks that they will need to use while they are on your website. In other words, if you deviate too far from standard website practices, it could become more difficult to turn people into regular visitors.
EfficiencyYou definitely want to strive for a layout that gives visitors the ability to quickly complete tasks regardless of how easy or difficult they are to initially learn and remember. Keep in mind that most people do not have a lot of patience, so efficiency is absolutely vital in order to get people to complete the process of making a purchase.
ErrorsEvery website user will make an error at least occasionally, but you need to determine how frequently these issues are occurring, how severe they are and how easy it is for users to recover when they do make a mistake so that you can minimize these complications.

As you can see, paying close attention to your site’s usability will have a huge impact on each user’s experience. In fact, usability is absolutely a necessity for any website to succeed because people will not waste time trying to figure out how to get the answers or products that they are looking for. Instead, if the site is not usable enough, they will simply leave and go to a competitor’s website instead. Therefore, you should always pay close attention to all of the key factors that impact usability when it is time to create or redesign any website.

Usability best practices for E-Commerce
Although usability is vital for all sites, it has become especially important for e-commerce companies because there is a lot of competition online. Fortunately, you can help your website stand out from the crowd by providing solutions to common issues. For example, some e-commerce sites turn consumers off by logging them out too quickly and purging shopping carts after a relatively short period of time. To avoid these issues, you can expand the usability of your website by letting people opt to stay logged in and preserving shopping carts for a minimum of seven days.

In fact, many popular e-commerce businesses have been able to improve their bottom line by sending reminder emails about the items that consumers have sitting in their shopping cart. Tackling these specific issues will help you improve customer satisfaction, but you also need to focus on several other aspects of the consumer experience.

Additional Shopping Cart Improvements 
It is a good idea to provide a shopping cart that can be easily updated, and enabling people to change quantities within their shopping cart can lead to increased sales. Your shopping cart should also reflect any changes that happened to each product’s availability and price after they were added to the consumer’s cart. This will avoid frustration and confusion when consumers do not move forward with a purchase during their initial visit.
Loading Time
This is critical for every type of website, but statistics indicate that e-commerce sites that do not load quickly are among the hardest hit with dissatisfied visitors. In fact, a mere two second delay in the responsiveness of each e-commerce page has been proven to lead to a 4.3 percent loss in revenue. In other words, making sure that all of your product pages load quickly should be one of your top usability priorities.

Ordering Process
Extremely popular e-commerce sites such as Amazon provide users with features such as one click ordering because this is by far one of the best ways to speed up the entire process. This is beneficial to consumers because it helps them save time, and it also increases profits due to the fact that it takes away the hesitation factor that some people experience when they are given the option to review their shopping cart.

However, it is important to give customers who are not very tech savvy the ability to review their order before they commit to it so that they will feel secure in their decision to make a purchase. Fortunately, you can still speed up this process by having customers enter all of the necessary payment information on one page and then click one button to finalize everything.

Suggested Products
Another thing that many major e-commerce sites do that increases sales and user satisfaction is suggesting complementary items on each product page. For example, a product page for an e-reader should provide easy access to accessories such as cases and screen protectors. Taking this step will make it easier for your consumers to find exactly what they need, and it will also help ensure that they make additional purchases through your business instead of looking elsewhere.

Ultimately, the success or failure of your e-commerce site will be strongly based around how much emphasis you place on usability. In other words, every online business needs to take the time to make sure that each of their website’s basic tasks can be quickly learned, memorized and utilized by each visitor. It is also vital to pay close attention to things that directly impact e-commerce customers such as the ordering process, easy to use shopping carts and appropriate product suggestions.