The Fundamentals of Ecommerce User Interface Design


By Joe Dawson

If you run an e-commerce website, you might think that producing the best product possible is all that matters. This is true to some extent, but it ignores a universal truth. When it comes to impressing consumers, user experience (UX) is essential. John Norman, psychologist and ergonomics consultant, is considered to be the first to invent the term “user experience” and refers to the feeling that users get when they use a product, application, system or service.

User interface, or UI, is a topic that is often discussed, but just as often misunderstood. The needs and expectations of an ecommerce website differ from those of a traditional data resource. This guide will explain how the interface of your e-commerce site can delight any customer.

7 Fundamentals of Ecommerce User Interface Design

1. Know your audience

Perhaps the most critical part of the user experience is giving customers what they want. To incorporate these expectations into your website UI, you need to know your target audience inside and out.

E-commerce customers appreciate being understood by a supplier. If you can demonstrate this empathy, you’re more likely to attract initial conversions and repeat business. Perform in-depth market research of your typical customers. Things to consider include:

  • What is the average age of your audience?
  • What do your consumers value most about an online provider?
  • What experience Are users looking for a transaction (including delivery packaging and seller communication)?
  • What would make people shop more frequently online?

Compare these results with your site’s analytics and you’ll get a useful picture of the people using your website. Adapt the UX to these responses and you will find that customers will be happy to come back.

2. Use a consistent branding image

Never neglect your company’s branding when developing the UI design for your e-commerce website. In fact, this should be one of the first things you consider.

Build every page of your website around your corporate identity, ensuring consistency in color scheme, logo placement, and layout. By keeping your branding front and center in the minds of users, any product purchased from your site will be intrinsically linked to your business.

3. Combine images with text

A big part of the user interface when designing an ecommerce site is finding the perfect balance between images and text. A popular saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, and well-placed and optimized pictures will undoubtedly capture a user’s attention. Images, however, should be paired with detailed descriptions of what your product or service has to offer.

When it comes to text, make it as interesting and imaginative as your images. Use a distinctive font (albeit readable) and take a close look at your word count. You’ll want to provide enough data to answer any questions a user may have before committing to a purchase, but not too much information that might intimidate browsers.

4. Be unique and grab the attention of your users

A simple but essential rule here: make sure that the design of your e-commerce user interface is unique. If you want consumers to come back to your site after making a purchase, you need to make sure that your site is memorable. Branding will help, but you can always add other personalized flourishes. Something as simple as UX microcopy can do the trick: a pop-up that says “good choice!” When someone adds something to their basket. Whatever you do, you need to distinguish between eye-catching and intrusive. Do it right, however, and you’ll reap several rewards.

5. Keep it simple for consumers

The power of simplicity is often overlooked when designing an ecommerce website. While it’s important to stand out from your competition, too many bells and whistles in your interface can backfire. Convenience is perhaps the most important selling point of online shopping, and 97% of users abandon a cart if they find a purchase too inconvenient to close.

Keep this number in mind when designing the user interface for your eCommerce website. Build in a search function for busy users and make sure the navigation links on your site are clearly labeled. For example, if you sell unisex clothing, make it easy for a user to locate clothing for men or women, and then further subdivide your categories.

There’s a rule of thumb here: the faster a user can find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to make an impulse purchase. Keep online shopping simple by making it easy for users to locate merchandise and providing minimal obstacles on their way to the checkout.

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6. Offer payment to guests

A Baymard Institute study found that 24% of people abandoned their cart because the site wanted them to create an account. You can improve sales on your site by providing a guest checkout feature. Many ecommerce sites that have adopted this and have seen cart abandonment rates improve dramatically as a result. Used correctly, guest payment can be a must-have part of any UI design.

The benefits of paying as a guest for users are clear. It encourages the immediate conclusion of a transaction and ensures that consumers do not need to share personal data. A McKinsey study found that 87% of consumers refuse to do business with an ecommerce site if they have concerns about its security credentials.

One flaw of paying as a guest for an e-commerce site is that it prevents you from collecting first-party data. However, you are trading a potential lead for a guaranteed sale. While it’s important to look to the future, don’t sacrifice present-day income to do so.

7. Sell carefully

Finally, think about how you are upselling on your ecommerce site. A well-placed and timely CTA (call to action) can boost your results. Likewise, however, appearing to be too pushy can deter consumers and lead to an abandoned transaction.

Save your upselling for the time a customer is at checkout – and even then, only try this technique if it is seen as strictly beneficial. If you are selling a lamp, it makes sense to remind customers that they would benefit from replacement bulbs.

You can even get away with a clothing site by suggesting a pair of shoes that would match a dress or suit perfectly. However, do not continually bombard the user with offers. This will alienate your audience because they will quickly think that you only see them as a walking, talking credit card.

RELATED: How to start an ecommerce business from scratch

About the Author

Posted by: Joe dawson

Joe Dawson is Director of UK-based strategic growth agency It can be found on Twitter @jdwn.

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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