Ecommerce Usability: Getting It Right

June 23, 2015In Usability5 Minutes

E-commerce has become a required piece of many businesses, whether brick-and-mortar or solely web-based. Online sales worldwide have reached an all-time high in the trillions, and it’s clear that the majority of consumers do much of their shopping, if not all, online. This trend is only on the upswing, and consumers have become increasingly discerning in the sites they purchase from.

To increase traffic and conversions, a business must focus on every detail, with specific attention to the site’s usability in order to create the user experience that has become a prerequisite of doing business in the digital environment.

First Impression

Nowhere is usability more important than on the landing page, particularly of an eCommerce site. The user has been driven to the site either looking specifically for an item or is curious to find out more about the brand, product or services being offered. Either way, their first impression will be the one that will make or break the conversion. Ensuring that the front page is as intuitive as possible is key, providing calls to action and informing – yet not overwhelming. The user should be able to find what they are looking for almost immediately while simultaneously understanding your brand. In this case, large images with a sliding feature are ideal for conveying brand vision, product features and special offers without overwhelming the user.

Product Organization

Defining a product organization strategy for eCommerce can be a challenging digital task. If working with hundreds or even thousands of products or SKUs, can mean an entire rework of the product’s traditional structure. The key is to simplify and remain consistent. Pare each category to the basics and provide overarching ‘umbrella’ categories. Create a navigation structure that will remain for enough time that users will become comfortable and intuitively know where to go next time they come to the site. Use strategic and somewhat pared-down judgment when creating product categories that result in the minimum number of clicks for the user to get to their desired destination.

Item Details

Providing as much information about the products offered at a granular level is paramount to the success of the site, customer satisfaction and conversion levels. Basic product information should be easily available without user prompting with additional product information available at the user prompt (either via rollover or drop-down) – don’t make the user click through to additional information, which can result in a lost sale. Ensure product photography is up to date, in the right resolution and accurate to the item description. Consider hiring a copywriter for product details.

Building Trust

Increasingly, customers simply will not become engaged with a business that will not extend a level of commitment to them. Building rapport with users through defined attention to their true identity through powerful digital strategies such as heightened customer service, secure site verification, community building, live chat, special offers and transparent business practices will ensure a lasting and profitable union.


While it’s important to focus on the overall design of the site relative to the eCommerce platform, and how the typographic elements intermix with their visual counterparts – it’s critical to remember that the purpose of the content is to help the user solve a problem and accomplish a goal-oriented task – in this case, make a purchase. Taking into consideration the importance of fonts in influencing users – the right implementation of this sometimes overlooked aspect makes the difference in delivering a better user experience and heightened conversions.

Focusing on usability and user experience will promote the qualities needed to sustain an eCommerce business. Starting smart with a platform and team that aligns with the business vision (and budget) will set the tone for the project ahead, increasing the chance of longevity and a steady financial stream.

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