Holidays are a busy time for eCommerce companies. In an increasingly crowded online retail field with consumers spending more of their money online, it’s more important than ever for companies to distinguish themselves as a unique site for their targeted clients.

User experience, or UX, is the overall experience of a person using a product, including ease of navigation, interface, and design. Good UX translates to the difference between an irritating online shopping experience and a smooth, no-hassle one that will bring visitors back for future purchasing needs.

A new consumer survey on website UX of 612 website users in the United States examined website browsing habits and collected user opinions about their experience on top websites.

Among the takeaways are two particularly important lessons:

  1. UX makes a massive difference in whether users will return to a website and use it again. Nearly a quarter of respondents – 24% point ease of navigation as their main motivation to return to a site and use it again.
  2. If the website lack of the useful content, forget about lesson one. It doesn’t matter if the user experience is pleasant, if the website is vacuous glitz, browsers will abandon ship and not return. Useful content is the other reason people will return to a website, named by 48% of respondents as their main motivation.

With that in mind, here is a deeper dive into the Clutch data and what it says about what eCommerce businesses can learn from the UX provided by top websites.

Top Websites Establish Usability Patterns

Amazon is the most popular eCommerce website, named by 10% of users who were asked which website they visited most in the past month. While this trails well behind social media giants such as Facebook or Instagram, this reflects the fact that the highest percentage of users – 29% – say that the main reason to use Internet pages is to communicate with other people.

Conversely, making a purchase was named as the main reason people go online by a relatively modest 12% of respondents. But when web browsers do go online to shop, 43% of them visit Amazon.

If you model your site based on Amazon’s usability and basic functions, most users will know from the start how to navigate your site. They will immediately recognize the layout, and intuitively understand how to maneuver through your content.

Amazon topped the survey’s ranking of websites offering the best user experience, named by 21% of respondents. It ranked far above other e-commerce sites, including 4% for eBay and 1% for Craigslist.

According to the survey, 78% of respondents say that among websites they visit monthly, Amazon offers exceptional user experience, providing customers with pages that are easy to use, has a clear interface, and an appealing design. By contrast, 42% of respondents say that about eBay, and 29% say that about Craigslist.

Here are a few ways you can follow Amazon’s lead on your eCommerce website:

Put Content Front and Center

The survey finds that almost half of website users- 48% – say useful content is their main motivation to return to a website. Website design should exist to support text and images representing a company’s offerings.

Businesses should avoid flashy, trendy web design features. They may distract potential customers from products they’re looking to purchase.

Rahul Kondi, a senior UX designer, agrees that user experience design teams at top websites prioritize content now more than ever before.

Smaller eCommerce shops should work with web designers to make sure content is the focus of their site.

Keep Design Simple

The goods for sale on Amazon are generally available on many eCommerce sites. Amazon’s greatest user experience strength is taking a large amount of content and making it simple, while still presenting it in a way that appeals to people browsing the site.

Amazon doesn’t have many trendy design features like chatbots or pop-ups. The design is uncomplicated and keeps the focus on content, so visitors don’t get distracted by challenging navigation.

Craigslist is famously void of design, focusing instead on presenting as many products or services as possible to the people browsing the site.

By keeping it simple, you avoid distracting your audience with design and lead them to the content they’re looking for.

Limit Your Imitations

Modeling your UX on popular eCommerce sites like Amazon should by no means stifle innovation within your own design or development team. Do not be afraid to try out well-reasoned design changes. Just be sure to keep user expectations in mind when testing a new design.

If you are changing your website’s UX, ground your proposed changes in research that shows benefits for users and the business.

A winning plan of action could involve blending the basic elements of Amazon’s functionality with your unique flair and design elements. Presenting the content in a unique and easily usable way is how businesses can stand out.

Work Quickly to Fix UX Mistakes – or Avoid Them Altogether

Bells and whistles may get attention, but it may be negative attention, mainly if they distract users or slow down your site.

Web users have clear dislikes when it comes to browsing, and at the top of the list is unreliability. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) say that unreliability, including broken links, 404 errors and crashes – would make them stop using the site permanently.

Not far behind in causing frustration – and potentially lost sales – is slow page load time. More than half of users – 52% say they would abandon a site permanently if it loads too slowly.

This is particularly important on checkout pages, which are more involved than homepages and are critical for conversion. Losing a transaction at the last minute because of a glitch on the page is more than lost revenue – it is potentially a customer lost for good because of the wasted time and aggravation.
Avoid slow load times by having your designers and developers work together. Keep the web design as simple as possible, and avoid stacking up elements that increase the time it takes to load a page.

Often, a simple fix in the interface can make a big difference in keeping users happy. You don’t need a major redesign to ensure a good experience on your website. Make the small changes you need to keep the site fast and reliable.

Down with Pop-Ups

In the same vein, don’t bombard users with pop-ups. A majority of respondents (51%) say pop-up forms would cause them to stop using a site permanently. Pop-ups are also notably absent on sites like Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist.

A pop-up that smacks users in the face as soon as they land on a page can be particularly off-putting and may lead a new user to make a hasty exit.

Forcing a user to deal with a pop-up as they try to leave a site is not much better. Exit-intent pop-ups create a barrier to peoples’ intent – which leads to frustration.

A more efficient and less irritating way to make use of pop-ups is to offer them as an option to showcase additional information, such as the biography of a staff member or further details and specifications about a product.

Even when pop-ups succeed in gathering customer information, however, they risk alienating a visitor for good. It’s not much of a win to pick up email addresses from customers who already had a frustrating experience with your website.

Avoid causing your visitors to distress. Most of them don’t enjoy pop-ups, and they aren’t worth the risk of damage to your brand.

Making Your Site Fast and Reliable on Mobile

Mobile version needs to be a top priority for eCommerce sites looking to grow their business. According to the survey, almost all website users browse primarily on a mobile device. More stages of the buyer’s journey take place on mobile, so it’s critical for eCommerce businesses to have a high-quality, intuitive version of a site on mobile.

This is particularly true for eCommerce sites hoping to make inroads in emerging markets where reliable internet access is not guaranteed. Because you don’t know if a user will have the connectivity or device to support downloading a mobile app, it’s important to optimize your website for mobile to reach this wider audience.

To gain users’ attention, it is critical to design your site to work simply, intuitively and efficiently on the market. It’s not enough to try to include all of your content in a small space. Start by recognizing the nuances between user intent on mobile and desktop browsers, and you’ll be on your way to a good mobile web UX.

Summary

As the survey results make clear, a good website UX matters to potential customers.

In many cases, significantly improving your UX is not a hard reach. Keep these points in mind both for the holiday season and into the New Year:

  • Amazon is the top dog in eCommerce for good reasons. The survey respondents say the two things that keep them coming back to a site are content and good UX, and Amazon offers them both in a symbiotic way, by taking an enormous amount of content and laying it out for customers in a way that is simple, easy to digest and not distracting.
  • Following the example of Amazon and other top sites not only allows you to incorporate best practices, but this also provides you with a website where first-time users will feel comfortable and intuitively understand how to navigate.
  • Stay away from design features that will slow down your load times without offering much in the way of improved content.
  • Test your site regularly to make sure your pages are reliable and don’t lead to broken links, error messages and crashes. If they do, people will leave your site in droves.
  • Don’t slap visitors in the face with pop-ups. They slow down the number of time users must spend on your site, inevitably irritating your target customers. It’s usually not worth the benefits, given half your visitors may not come back.
  • Don’t be afraid to break out your own ideas on ways to improve your UX in ways your customers will appreciate.
  • Make the site your own, with touches that reflect your ethos and target audience – make sure they don’t slow down your visitors or page load times.
  • Ignore mobile web at your peril. It’s where you will find new users.
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