As we approach the final quarter and preparation for the holiday season, we decided to seek Dan’s User Experience perspective on the best and worst of ecommerce.
- What is the biggest misconception that companies brand new to ecommerce face?
Many companies think that the best way to enter an ecommerce market is to “just copy Amazon”. Amazon quickly comes to mind when people think of ecommerce, so they figure that Amazon must have it all figured out and that they might as well make it easy and just copy them. Surprisingly enough, Amazon’s UX actually isn’t so great. Although strong back in the 90s, they have since fallen way behind. Amazon does not make drastic changes in fear of confusing users and reducing their conversion rates, even knowing that these drops would often be very short-term.You also need to keep in mind that your personal goals for ecommerce are probably very different from Amazon’s. Amazon wants to build loyalty and become your place for everything from socks to new TVs. You likely have a much more focused product offering, and therefore should create a UX that works best with how people shop for your particular type of product.
- What is something new that a lot of ecommerce sites are now utilizing or starting to utilize? What are your thoughts on the new strategy/feature?
Better product media has become huge in the form of high-resolution photos, interactive product tours, 360-degree models, and videos. These are great because they bring the experience a little closer to the customer without being in-store and being able to physically interact with products. When shopping for clothes, it’s nice to be able to zoom in and see the texture of the fabric. Product tours are a good way to highlight features instead of a simple bulleted list of features. 360-degree models emulate holding a product in your hands. Videos are similar to hearing a little sales pitch from a store employee. People are notorious for skimming text online, so any media that can take the place of text is beneficial for UX and conversion rates. Also, these features make websites more impressive and professional looking. I personally would hesitate to buy something from a store that can only manage to display a single picture of a product.
- What is one “simple” thing that makes an ecommerce site surprisingly easier to use?
Don’t list each product variant as a separate product. If you have a shirt that comes in red, green, and blue, the item should be one product in the listing with the various colors as options. Listing each color separately make the search results much longer. It is not only annoying because users can unknowingly find the same product multiple times, but these repeats actually make it difficult to view all the color options if dispersed across separate pages.
- Is there such a thing as too many filtering options?
Too many filtering options do exist, but I’d say better safe than sorry. If you can come up with a use case or a persona that would use a filter, then you should offer it. Too many filters can definitely be overwhelming and might make it look like a lot of effort to find something, however, if you’re smart about how you design the page and keep the most relevant and useful filters at the top, this should not be of concern. It might even make sense to have basic filter options as well as an advanced search option that provides more specific filters. That could be useful for a site with specialized products; for example, a company that sells a wide variety of high-tech cutting tools. One thing to keep in mind is that if a filter option will only elicit 1 or 2 products, you are probably getting too specific. It is also helpful to show users how many products match each filter option in parenthesis within the filter list, so users know what to expect upon searching.