What constitutes usability best practice for e-commerce? In fact, what makes something/anything 'best practice'?
I’m the first one to say that I regularly refer to ‘usability best practice’ and best practice is certainly a phrase used often enough by Econsultancy. I thought it would be worth starting a discussion on what you think when they hear this term, and what you feel justifies having the label ‘best practice’.
Or perhaps you feel it should just be banished from our industry!
No matter how many times I am involved in user testing sessions, I never stop learning about people's browsing habits and the different aspects of a company’s proposition that affect how people respond to a given website.
Recently we have carried out two days of user testing for a high street retailer, and although these aren’t groundbreaking, what follows are nine key online shopping insights that all nine women (there should have been 10 but we had a late no-show) who took part provided during the test sessions.
Shopping baskets (or shopping carts) are a key part of the customer
journey when shopping online. They are a gateway for visitors into your
Retailers can choose to provide visitors with a wide
range of information, links and other potential distractions, or
alternatively they can keep their shopping basket minimal to focus
purely on checking out.
Based upon my experience of working with a range of blue chip retailers
over the last 10 years, there are a variety of best practice techniques and
types of information to display in order to encourage visitors to proceed from the shopping basket to
the checkout process.
In addition, retailers should look at answering as
many customer questions as possible before they enter the checkout
process, paving the way for a simple checkout that is a formality for
In an ideal world most, if not all, retailers would like their new customers to register when they place their first order, thus opening up the potential of a building a more meaningful long-term relationship with the customer.
Unfortunately most new customers want to avoid registering and just checkout as quickly as possible, so how can retailers encourage more registrations without deterring customers?
You may be focused on improving the conversion rate for your website, or simply wanting to ensure that your visitors can quickly get an idea of what you do and offer.
Whatever your goals, having a clear proposition and call to action are two areas that can have a positive impact on your business performance.
In this post I will be talking about a web application that you can use to help you and your business gain invaluable insights from end users.
OK so the idea of segmenting your customers and prospects isn't breaking news. What would make for some interesting headlines would be the percentage of businesses using segmentation effectively.
With this in mind, and with the continued increase in knowledge based content around social media and the importance to businesses being published online, I've taken a step back.
With the continued growth of online shopping, and with new pureplay
retailers entering the market looking for new opportunities, I would
expect that the biggest players would be leading the way in terms of
With the upcoming Online Fashion 100 event in London that I'll be
attending, I have taken a look at some of the biggest players in the
fashion industry, both pureplay retailers and high street retailers.
was particularly interested to look at key areas of their online
customer experience to find out:
1) how well some of these brands are
are delivering intelligent and meaningful cross-sell and up-sells to
drive higher average order values, and...
2) which retailers are potentially
losing sales due to a lack of focus on the full customer experience,
right through to the end of the checkout process.
If ever a retailer could get away with having exceptional cross-selling
and up-selling functionality, yet provide a new visitor checkout
process and web forms that break many usability rules, Amazon is certainly one of them. On the other hand one of Amazon's competitors, The Book
Depository, certainly appears to focus more on providing better
usability throughout the buying journey, especially for new customers.
Following the recent e-commerce training course I delivered for
Econsultancy, the usability benchmarking that is part of the course
threw up some really interesting market insights. Although many
retailers are featured in the course, providing examples of good and
bad e-tail usability and best practice, I purposely refrained from
Now with our economy firmly in a recession, most retailers no longer have the types of budgets available to replatform. Instead, 2009 will be a year for improving their existing platforms, trying to increase conversion rates, average order values and returning visitor numbers.
So with this primary drive to improve performance, are retailers doing all that they can? Are retailers following best practice to help more visitors complete the buying process, and are retailers removing usability barriers to ensure that in such competitive times visitors aren’t encouraged to find reasons why they shouldn’t complete their purchase?
Usability as a criteria for judging internal software solutions is not only overlooked but often undervalued when compared to one of its big sisters, so called ‘cost reducing features’.
With the penetration of enterprise software throughout businesses all over the world, will we as end users ever experience user friendly internal software, to the levels to which we are accustomed with the latest ‘user centered’ web applications?