Improving Usability: Things to consider when designing your online store
April 5, 2017
Many businesses now have online stores. Their collective decision is hardly a coincidence, as there are countless advantages that come with a solid online presence:
- It increases the visibility of the company and brand
- You can access a worldwide market
- There are no closing hours as the online store runs 24/7
- Keeping up to date with digital technology can boost profits.
Of course, the benefits of moving your business online aren’t just going to fall into your lap. In a space that is populated with online stores, it is necessary to consider the features that are vital for an ecommerce website. Without question, content quality and web design are huge factors that can affect the efficiency of your online store.
However, this sometimes leads to a decreased focus on website functionality – or usability. You could have the best copywriters of the century on your team. It won’t mean much if people can’t navigate your site. That said, when designing your website ease-of-use should never be undermined.
Usability should be Priority
Usability is not concerned with the appearance of the website, but rather how it functions. The design of your website is important as well, but is geared more towards the look and feel of your online store. While designing your website to be visually appealing is a good way to go, you also have to make sure that your ecommerce site works as well as it looks.
The backend of the website is key to improving usability. The site map should be easy to navigate and help customers to go through the purchase journey easily. Some elements to consider might be clear pricing of items, or a link to the “basket” on every page.
Clarity is Key
Ambiguity and incoherence can negatively affect site usability. A website with good usability should clearly indicate the next step to the customer. After selecting the items, the shopper should be guided through the payment and delivery information stages without any confusion. This will increase the conversion rate of your business.
If customers find the website difficult to use or confusing, then it’s highly likely they’ll abandon the site. The customer may then opt to purchase from a company that has a website with better usability.
People (and search engines) should trust you
Loyalty is difficult to build online and that is partly why customers will leave if the site is difficult to use – they need to be able to trust your website.
Usability is also beneficial for search engine placement. Google, Yahoo, and others will look at the site and rank it on their pages based on several bits of criteria. Ease-of-use should be a priority as this is the biggest influencer in the ranking of your website.
A search engine aims to make the information search as easy and safe as possible. This should also be the aim of your ecommerce store. Usability can be improved by providing clear purchase instructions, having a FAQ section, and showing the “basket” or “cart” clearly.
Read more on ways you can better engage your customers/visitors here.
The Needs of Your Users
Remember “users” are the people you want flocking to your website. These are your readers, clients, customers or what have you. I say that to say this — understanding the NEEDS of these users is a huge step towards making your website truly effective. Once you understand what works for your target audience, this knowledge should be implemented on the frontend and backend of your website.
Clear Call to Action
CTAs are super effective, and can contribute a lot to your conversion rates. But there is more to bolstering your website usability than showing off a big blue (or whatever color) CTA to your readers and telling them to ‘click right here’.
Your CTAs must be cleverly placed, and should not impose upon your visitors in any sort of way. This is an important factor in usability because it can cut down bounce rates. It does this in a few different ways.
For one, it can conveniently REMIND users to sign up or purchase something. Sometimes even users who leave a site may be interested in your product. They just need a little push or incentive.
Speaking of ‘incentive’, an effective Call to Action will actually have cleverly written content that let’s people know WHY they should commit, and WHAT your company has to offer them. Keep in mind people are looking for VALUE.
If you are wondering what could be the one most important factor in improving usability — this could be it right here. Not only will clean navigation spare your users a headache (and decrease bounce rates in the process) it can also determine how search engines feel about your website. In other words help with ranking!
Concise Website Design
A ‘good’ website design can be subjective. I guess the point here is that your website should at the very least be uncluttered, and easy to digest for any visitor that may land on your site for any given reason. Notably the visitors you are going to want sticking around (your target audience).
Ideally, your homepage should be SCREAMING what your website is about. Just not in any way that’s going to scare your customers away. ‘Screaming’ can be clever and engaging copy, or video that tells your brand story, or cool graphical elements that heavily appeal to your target audience.
Users shouldn’t need more than five seconds to know what the heck is going on when they land on your homepage.
Memorability (for the sake of repeat traffic)
While memorability isn’t so much a design choice, it can be vital to the usability of your online store.
I mentioned before that sometimes visitors will be super interested in your website but still stray. This isn’t to say your product didn’t have a positive effect on them. Users will leave a site for any number of reasons. But once your website did its job right best believe some of those users will be looking to come back.
Memorability plays an important role in you picking up some repeat traffic. How easily will users find your website a second time? The keyword associated with the search will have to be memorable enough so that they can make their way back instead of giving up halfway through the process.
Repeat traffic is great, as it means people are interested in your product. It’s even better when you consider that it can give you a boost in ranking!