Minimizing browsing obstacles for visitors is what you are looking forward achieving for better conversion rates, more clicks often meaning that your users are moving forward in the conversion funnel and are closer to committing the purchase. An improved usability creates more motivated visitors thus we should not underestimate the importance of A/B testing in regard to usability techniques, which are important for improving and optimizing the conversion rate on our websites. Being able to find a product is the key to any ecommerce business, after all, customers that are not able to find a product, simply won’t be able to purchase it.
In this article, we will discuss some tweaks that could be implemented right now in order to not only increase conversion rates but also improve overall site usability and functionality.
Sort items under a “What’s new” category
It is very likely that a lot of your visitors will be regulars and returning users, which is why they might be aware of your shop and your stock. These loyal users that might become or already are your regular customers, are way more likely to commit to a purchase than a new visitor, therefore there’s the need to acustomize to their needs as well, and make it your priority. Their browsing priorities might or might not be known by you, depending on your UX strategy and analysis, but nonetheless, it would only be to your benefit if you were to add a feature that would let your users list through a “What’s new” category. This would benefit both existing customers in the way that would let them see and find your newest items faster, and would be helpful for the new ones in the sense that the navigation would be made easier. You should put an emphasis on this feature therefore try to apply appropriate links and filter were possible.
Do not display “Blank results” pages
Search results do not always get through and sometimes links do not work as well. These happens to anyone, but we have got to make the most of out it. A difficult but effective way to approach this issue would be to display similar items if the original query could not be fulfilled, by that providing the users with the stimuli to continue the shopping. This is a little bit harder to implement on a technical level, that’s why another effective and way easier technique is to provide navigation links upon a failed search result, so that the users would feel the need to browse to another page considering the provided navigation links.
Letting the user know that you are ready to assist them is also important, it’s not very likely that they will necessarily use that help, but simply the acknowledgement of the the fact that there’s always somebody to support them in case of trouble adds up to the level of comfort.
Personalize the site search with 3rd Party tools
It is to be understood that the search system is a part of the navigation. Improving navigation has various approaches and starting with the search form is one to start with. Most of the websites rely on functional but simple search forms, that do not provide many ways to perform an advanced search, mainly relying on simple scripts to perform the search. If you have the possibility to implement and code an advanced search system that would be custom to your site – that would be great, but not everyone can do that, which is why relying on 3rd party plugins and scripts is what we are looking forward. These scripts will show correction suggestions for misspelled words and display thumbnail images if necessary. Such tools as Unbxd is what could interest us.
These changes might take some time to be implemented and it might not be as easy as changing your call-to-action text or color but the conversion boost from these changes will be higher than the usual tweaks you apply during testing.
Website navigation and site search the foundation of a good eCommerce business thus if you plan to try any of the above suggested tweaks, it is important to make an A/B testing first.
Keep Navigation features low
The checkout process is all about making a purchase. This is the reason why all browsing features, from left-hand menus, product category filters to search bars and latest products feeds are redundant. Checkout pages, just like navigation bars, are all about having the tool to achieve the desired result, with the checkout page it being the commitment to purchase and with the navigation bar – browsing the pages.
Once users proceed to checkout, the website should switch from being a showcase to a purchase finalization center. You can always offer a ‘go back to your shopping’ option, but don’t add up clutter on the page by adding unnecessary features.
Instead of distracting users with distracting features, it would be a better idea to offer a simple and distraction-free user interface. Make use of whitespace and create a clear and focused layout. By keeping the browsing features to a minimum, you’ll be able to forward the customer and his attention towards completing the purchase.
Provide a Multi-Step view on Checkout
Checking out is a multi-step process. Make sure that your users are always informed about the status of their order (i.e the step they’re at) and how many steps it takes to complete the process. Clear multi-step numbers and explanatory labels will clear up any possible confusion and prevent users from abandoning the cart when they can’t understand when the process will end.
Also, letting users know that they can modify or cancel the order at any step of the checkout process is also important. It assures them that any mistake made when placing their order can be corrected without restarting the process.
Create Parent Categories for links
If the hierarchy of categories is just labels and headers, it breaks the expectations of users and forces them into narrower sections than they desire, preventing explorative product browsing. This is the reason why creating parent categories on the main navigation bar is an important feature, it displays the logic behind the organization of pages within the site. Grouping subcategory options in drop-down menus and other areas is a vital part of making them both manageable and easy to browse through.
Making parent categories a part of the product hierarchy (not just text labels) is important in supporting the idea of explorative site browsing, so that users who haven’t fully decided what they want or who are looking for inspiration on what to purchase can look further in a different spectrum categories before referring to the usual ones.
Show “Recently Viewed Items.”
Finding a previously visited product might become an issue when the user has to rely on the browser’s native “Back” button or has to navigate through the categories again, or use the search form.
It is common for customers to have the desire of returning to a previously visited item, be that to check whether certain features of the previous item were compatible or some other miscellaneous reason.
Whatever the reason, the customers are looking for usability and when it comes to this feature (which is directly tied to the navigation behaviour a user might have), it is important to realize that given the specifics of your store, the existence of a such feature will provide much benefit (i.e clothing stores would definitely want to take this into consideration).
On ASOS.com we can find a great way of displaying the recently viewed items. They have put around 10 recently viewed items in the bottom of the page, thus making it both uncluttered (not interfering with the current purchases) and detailed (showing many items).
Feature image curtsey of Matt Lawson