One of the cornerstones of a successful webshop is user-friendliness. In web terms, we call this user experience, or UX. In this article we explain in short what user experience means and how you can improve it for your webshop.
What is user experience?
Your webshop, website, app, or even your online store, is user-friendly if visitors don’t have to ask themselves any questions when they navigate through it. In this respect, a good user experience is one that you do not notice. But UX is not only about user-friendliness, it is also about the emotion or experience you manage to create for your visitor. Compare it to shifting gears of a luxury car or shifting gears of a small city car: the experience is totally different.
This does not mean every online shopping experience should feel like driving a luxury car. Driving a small city car can be perceived just as amiable, but probably by a different audience with other expectations. It’s all about creating the ideal user experience for your specific target audience, either by creating a luxury experience, or by giving people the feeling they buy a qualitative product for a decent price.
How can I improve the user experience on my webshop?
Focus on your target audience
Crucial when starting your online business is to define your target audience as specifically as possible. Secondly, you should think about how you address that audience in an appealing way. Make sure your content and story speak the language of your target group: young people in their twenties communicate in a different way than elderly people.
Make a clear categorisation
A clear and neat categorisation of your products makes sure that potential customers can quickly navigate to their goal. If visitors get confused because they do not know where to search for the product they need, you risk that they will buy it on a competitor’s webshop. Take into account that, as an expert in your field, you might look differently at your product range than consumers who do not have that expert knowledge. Do you doubt whether your categorisation is user-friendly? Then certainly test it with a group of users belonging to your target audience. Find more tips for a good categorisation in this research article by Baymard Institute.
Choose relevant filters
Categories and filters often get mixed up:
- A category is a specific product group.
- With a filter visitors can select products within a category that are relevant for their specific situation.
Assume that you are the owner of an online electronic goods store with a broad range of coffee machines. You might be tempted to categorise your coffee machines by type: espresso machines, filter coffee machines, pod coffee machines, … A visitor who searches for a specific type of machine will easily navigate to his goal, but a visitor who has not yet made up his mind, will have to open all categories one by one. He will not be able to compare products in multiple categories. This is where a lot of visitors drop out, because they can not navigate and compare easily. And we did not even take into account the visitors who do not know what a pod coffee machine is…
Instead of making them separate categories, you can turn those subtypes into filters. This way, you serve all types of customers well:
- Visitors still in doubt between a filter coffee machine and a pod coffee machine can compare those easily in one view.
- Visitors look for a pod coffee machine can go straight to their goal.
- Visitors who like to weigh all options, can do so easily.
Do also bear in mind that the filters you use should be relevant for that specific category page. They should quickly show the products that fit the visitor’s specific situation. The quicker visitors can make the selection relevant for them, the bigger the chance that they will make a purchase.
Tell home page visitors what your site is about
The home page is the main starting point for your webshop visitors. Therefore, the content on your home page is crucial in informing your visitors on what you have to offer. For mobile visitors, the home page of your shop is even more important than for desktop visitors. Research proves that 70% of mobile visitors scroll through the entire homepage.
Let’s go back to the electronic goods store. When a visitor on the lookout for a coffee machine sees only washing machine promotions on your homepage, there is a big chance that he will end his visit there. In the mobile version of a webshop, the navigation menu is hidden, so the product categories are not immediately visible. Therefore the content on your home page should give enough relevant information in the exploratory phase of the visit. It should, in other words, be a short summary of your shop:
- What do you sell?
- What can the visitor expect?
- Will the visitor find what he’s looking for?
Make good use of visual hierarchy
Not all information on a webpage is equally important, so not every element of a page should receive equal focus. Visitors should be guided to the main goal of a specific page, and the rest of the information should be made subordinate. A good example is the order button on the product page. The goal is to guide the visitors to clicking the button and making a purchase, so this button should contrast clearly with the rest of the content.
Remove all distracting elements from your webshops check-out
Once your visitor is on the cart page or check-out page, he or she should be guided through the purchasing process without any distraction. Do not make your customer doubt with cross-selling products, do not offer extra products or services and remove all unnecessary links. When the visitor has finally made up his mind to buy, you do not want him to doubt, just pay and go 😉