Usability matters the most when you design an ecommerce website. If you design a par excellence attractive site, but don't help your customers buy the products, your online sales will slow down. Every good ecommerce website gives highest priority to ecommerce website usability, abide search engine rules and constantly try to provide better shopping experience.
Whether you already have an ecommerce website or planning to design a new one, here are some ecommerce web design usability guidelines for you. Remember, sometimes even the smallest modifications and enhancements in your website design can increase your online store's performance including your revenue too.
Ecommerce Website Usability Guideline:
1. Use Headings, Sub Headings and Breadcrumbs
Page headings, sub heading and breadcrumbs help the customers understand there location inside a large ecommerce website. While the heading and sub heading show the user's current location, breadcrumbs show the navigation path he has followed so far. You should use these elements in your ecommerce website design to help the customers in their shopping process.
For instance, if you sell electronics products and your customer is visiting the "television" page, you can show the breadcrumb as Home>Electronics>Television and the page heading should show "TELEVISION" in bold fonts.
2. Contact Information Must Always Remain Visible
Trust is a crucial factor for the success of an ecommerce website. You should always show your contact information on top of every web page to maintain transparency and win your customers' trust. If your customers call or email you to know more about your business, you must reply them as soon as possible.
3. Keep the Site Search Function above the Fold
When you buy the shopping cart solution; make sure that it comes with a site search tool. Some ecommerce solutions providers sell cheap shopping carts that don't have this feature. Place the search tool near the header area and let the customers find any product instantly.
4. Add Category Refinement to Your Search Tool
A large website, do have some same name products in store. For instance, if you sell DVD and computer games, then you may sell both Tomb Raider film and game DVD. Therefore, if your customers search for "tomb Raider" they may get confused and buy the wrong DVD. To solve this problem, you should give a "category" field beside your search tool and let the customers select the product category to get a more specific result.
5. Give Product Search Result Refinement Option
In the search result page, you should give search result refinement options. Allow your customers to sort the search results using "price", "popularity", "most discounted" options. Some of your customers may only like to buy premium products and the "price" sorting option will help them to find the costly products.
6. Give Show per Page Option
Generally, your customers can see 10 or 20 products per "product result" page. However, you can give a "products per page" option and allow your customers see more products per page.
7. Don't Ask Your Customers to Register First
Some ecommerce websites don't allow customers to add any product to the shopping cart, until they sign up. You may want to increase your customer account, but that does not mean you can compel your buyers to register first. Let your customers add as many products to the shopping cart as they wish to and only ask them to "sign up" or "sign in" during checkout process. This technique reduces bounce rate and makes your site user friendly.
8. Make Sure That Shopping Cart Content Can Easily Be Modified
Show the shopping cart information all the time to help your customers understand number of products they have added and their total bill amount. Apart from that, you should also allow your customers to modify the shopping cart data. If a customer thinks that he has added too many products to the shopping cart, then he should have the freedom to delete any product from the shopping cart immediately.
9. Design a Proper "Call-to-Action" Button
You have to encourage your customers to take an action and buy a product from your site. Therefore, design a large call-to-action button using bright colors and bold fonts. Place the button beside every product. Try to avoid "buy now" kind of call-to-action message because your customers may feel pressurized if they see such a command on the call-to-action button. You can write "add to cart", "add to bag", "proceed to checkout" etc. to direct your customers towards the checkout page without scaring them.
10. Show "Add to Wishlist" Option
Sometimes a customer may like a product in your store, but don't have enough money to buy it instantly. Act like an ideal storekeeper and show the "add to wishlist" link just below the "add to cart" button. Your customer can click on this link and add that product to his custom wishlist. Whenever he has enough money, he can revisit the "wishlist" and buy his dream product.
11. Show Price and Availability
You must show the price of each product clearly and display product availability. Don't take any hidden charges and inform your customers how many days you will take to deliver the product. Nobody wants to add an out of stock product to his shopping cart.
12. Keep the Forms Short
Do not design a lengthy checkout page. Use short forms and ask only the mandatory questions to your customers. Help them during form fill up process and show error message in case they key in any wrong information.
13. Show Security Symbols in Your Shopping Cart
Web users won't share their credit card details with you, if they feel that your shopping cart software is not secure. Therefore, you must always show some of security logos and symbols to prove your security levels. For instance, you can place the VeriSign logo in your shopping cart and show a statement like "xyz is a VeriSign secure site."
14. Offer a Variety of Payment Options
For better usability, you should offer multiple payment options to your customers. Offer credit card, debit card, net banking, PayPal and cash on delivery payment options, so that even if a customer doesn't have a credit card, he can buy from your website.
When people buy from an online store, they can't see the seller. Therefore, they evaluate your legitimacy from your website design and usability. If you provide a hassle free shopping experience to your customers and maintain customer relation, people start buying from your site regularly. Follow the aforementioned 14 guidelines to make your ecommerce web design user friendly.