E-commerce has exploded in the past two years as most people remained home and had to shop online. With many people saying that they will not be going back to a physical shop any time soon, mainly due to the convenience afforded by online shopping, brands started e-commerce websites by the dozen. Many of these businesses will make the mistake of forgetting about usability.
Usability is crucial for e-commerce websites, especially when people have numerous options. If you do not want customers leaving your website for your competitor, you need to ensure it is user-friendly. Here are the must-have features that will make it so.
Mobile Compatibility and Responsiveness
The number of people shopping on their mobile devices has been increasing over the years, and research suggests that this number surpassed that of those shopping on their desktops about two years ago. Those shopping on a website expect a good experience regardless of the e-commerce shop. If not, they are likely to leave and be very reluctant to return. The loss of revenue due to this cannot be ignored.
To ensure your website is mobile responsive, check if it uses any of the tens of tools available. Google has a great tool that also fits how fast your website is. If your website is not responsive, it may be time to have it redesigned.
It is important to remember that the days of designing two website versions, one for computers and one for mobile, are long gone. Now, you can hire a software & Web development company to develop a responsive website across all devices and screen sizes. This web design and development company will also check to ensure that the website is usable on mobile.
This will include checking the button sizes, link clickability, and contrasts for mobile users on screens with low brightness.
A Logo and The Right Brand Colours
People who have never visited your website might wonder if they have landed on the right one. To remove this confusion, do add a logo to your website. As with other elements and assets on your website, ensure it is mobile responsive.
Do not forget to use your actual brand colors on the website. You want people to recognize the website easily by looking at the logo. Using your brand colors for borders, shadows, and button backgrounds should help.
Doing the above will go a long way in helping cement your brand identity in the minds of all those who come across your website, thereby increasing your brand awareness.
It is easy for web developers to forget that their websites need to be user-friendly to the blind, hard of hearing, and the elderly. Although these users may make up a tiny percentage of your website visitors, you still need their business. Many of them use screen readers to access online content, and thus your website should be designed for ease of use with a screen reader.
The good news is that there are already rules and guidelines that can help web developers make e-commerce websites more accessible. Do ask your developer to make your website accessible as they build it. Doing it from the beginning is the best option because it will be much harder to do so once the website is finished and already online.
Making your website accessible also has a positive benefit on your bottom line. If you sell niche products and services, those who have a hard time using your competitors’ websites will come to you. You will become the defacto accessible website for these products and services and a more extensive user base.
Browser Compatibility and Consistency
Different browsers display some aspects of the website differently. For example, some effects will not work on some browsers. The blur effect on images is of note because it works on Chrome-based browsers and not Firefox.
It is essential to go through the website using the most common browsers to ensure things are working as expected. Chrome (on which numerous browsers are based), Firefox, Safari, and Opera should be your primary targets. Remember, Internet Explorer was replaced by Edge (a Chrome derivative) and has a low user base that is not worth testing.
Easy to Find Information and Simple Navigation
Visitors will get frustrated very quickly if they cannot find the products they came for on your website. They are making information easy to find, starting with your navigation. Ensure your navigation is well-thought-out and that you do not have any navigation more than three levels deep. More stories than this might work for larger e-commerce websites like Amazon, but it is always best to keep things simple with small to medium-sized businesses.
Next, use terms that are easy to understand and follow for your categories. Your navigation links will often lead to product categories, and you want people to know what they will find once they follow these links. One or two words will help a lot and will also be great for your SEO as they make the site easier to navigate for search engine spiders.
The various sections and categories on your website should also be organized logically. This way, users can move from one area or type to another without too much hassle. Also, make it easier for users to drill down to the exact products they are looking for. For example, a gentleman should be able to move from men’s wear to accessories, belts, and finally to leather belts without that flow breaking.
Fast Load Times
A website that takes too long to load is very annoying. Most people who encounter a website that takes longer than 6 seconds to load will leave your website (although they start going after about 2 seconds). Ensuring your website loads fast is excellent for user-friendliness and usability, but it also affects your ranking on Google.
Try various tools to find out how fast your website is, and then use their suggestion to make it faster. Some of the things you want to look into are the web host and the third-party plugins and widgets you are using on your website.
Well-formatted Product Pages
The average website visitor will skim your product pages without reading each line. Your page formatting should help them go through the page and understand the product or find the additional information they need without too much hassle.
Use headings of different sizes to emphasize the importance of specific sections, add paragraphs for descriptions, and use bullet points for scannable details. Breaking up text this way is great for your users, but it is also great for SEO. In some instances, you will find a bullet list of product features on search engine result pages if the search term is specific enough.
Unless you have a blog on your e-commerce website, some aspects of readability will not apply. For example, there will be no need to ensure your paragraphs are just a few lines because product descriptions already are. The two things to keep in mind here are colors and fonts.
When talking about colors, we are talking specifically about contrast. There should be a significant enough difference between the color of the font and the background so the text is readable. For example, it is terrible to use grey text on a white background. Some people might be able to read this text, but you will be excluding numerous people for whom this is not enough contrast.
There are online tools to help you measure our page and text contrasts so you can make the necessary adjustments.
If not tens of thousands, there are thousands of fonts you can use on your e-commerce website. The thing is, not all fonts can be used on such a website. Some finds are much harder to read because of the letter shapes, spacing, and thickness, while some look too casual for e-commerce websites.
Go through a few guides online to find fonts that complement each other, are readable, and work well with your brand and e-commerce niche. If you cannot find good fonts, those on your logo and other rebranding material will also work.
On-screen Error Handling
It is annoying for something to happen on an e-commerce website, a page not loading or a form not being sent, for example, and not knowing what has happened. On-screen error messages can help alert the visitor and improve the user experience.
It is always better to test the website thoroughly to eliminate bugs and give our users a great experience. However, you could miss some errors and bugs, and you need to catch them and let users know that something has gone wrong.
Customer and user expectations have changed over the years, and they expect a lot more when they visit an e-commerce website. There are also many e-commerce websites where people no longer hesitate to take their business elsewhere if they have a terrible experience with yours. Work on improving user-friendliness and knowledge to avoid these issues.