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May, 2 2016How to Improve Your E-Commerce Store Usability

Is your e-commerce store easy to use? If your answer is “it seems easy enough to me,” then ease of use wasn’t factored into its design — at least from the point of view of your visitors. An e-commerce store that scores high on usability allows your visitors to conduct their shopping easily, efficiently, and quickly. This applies to all parts of their experience, from browsing and finding what they want to the final purchase. When your visitors do this with minimal effort, they are more inclined to become repeat customers.

The designer’s familiarity and natural bias for his own creation means he is not in the best position to judge his site design. More important are the experiences of first time users of the site. Does this mean you should poll them? Polling is a good practice for identifying problems specific to your site. However, usability is a well-studied subject with many guidelines you can follow to get most of your design done correctly to start with. Here are three of them:

Make E-Commerce Store Navigation Easy to Use

Ease of use means your navigation mostly follows convention. Most websites have navigation bars at the top and/or along the side of the page. Sometimes sub-menus are also used. An unconventional navigation scheme is a learning barrier that prevents free and unencumbered exploration of your site.

Keep the structure of your e-commerce site logical and simple. One approach is structuring the site according to product categories. However you choose to do it, the main idea is using an easily understood hierarchical structure. When your site’s structure makes sense, so will its navigation. A hierarchical site structure with breadcrumbs is a highly effective combination because it allows the visitor to easily keep track of where they are.

Don’t forget to include a search bar. People use search when they are looking for something specific. Whether it’s a product or product category, the search bar gets them there fast because it bypasses the need for navigating your menu system.

Use More White Space and Reduce Clutter

With e-commerce design, more is not better. Excessive use of images, colors, technical effects, buttons, and icons only serve to camouflage the products you are trying to sell. Even the products themselves become clutter if the page has too many of them. Understand that white space isn’t just a blank void. It makes page elements such as your products more prominent. When there is nothing but white space surrounding an important product, the eye is naturally drawn to it. It’s a more professional way of drawing attention to something than using arrows or animation which only add to the clutter.

White space is also effective at structuring your page. Product grouping is achieved by bordering the group with more white space than is present between the individual items. Back in the early days of the web, tables with explicit borders were used for this. However, effective white space usage has rendered this practice obsolete.

Make the Add to Cart Button Prominent

The ‘add to cart’ button is a call to action that should stand out from other page elements such as wish lists, share buttons, product detail views, and shipping information. Place the ‘add to cart’ button above the fold in an obvious and prominent location. Use a distinctive color that’s reserved for this button only. Avoid unnecessary verbiage on the button and consider placing a second button on the bottom of the page.

These three usability guidelines will eliminate unnecessary barriers that prevent your visitors from finding and purchasing what they want. Great visitor experience means more repeat customers. For more information about improving customer sales at your e-commerce store, contact us today.

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