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Understanding user experience (UX), part 2: Five ways to create a better design

In part 1 of the user experience (UX) design series, we discussed the importance of UX design and how e-commence websites can benefit from a UX audit. In the following article, we share five tips on how e-commerce websites can improve their UX design.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

These words couldn’t be more relevant than in the context of user experience (UX) design, defined as the process of improving the usability and accessibility of a product or website for online users.

A host of recent studies and consumer surveys have shown that UX changes aimed at improving the functionality and usability of a website, such as an online form with fewer fields or inline validations, can lead to an increase in engagement and conversions for e-commerce websites. A case study mentioned in Luke Wroblewski’s ‘Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks‘ demonstrated a $300 million increase in revenue by simply enabling a guest checkout option so it didn’t alienate two out of every five customers who had forgotten their password.

“A fantastic example of customer-friendly UX design is Zappos.com, which reflects the company’s customer-centric approach in its design,” says Luke Chambers, user experience lead at Experia Digital, and co-founder of UX Mastery.

“The website features intuitive product category taxonomy, product information and sales process – all quite important when shopping for something that you can’t physically try on. And, to make it easy to contact Zappos’ customer care, the contact information and Live Help widget are right at the top of the website where customers can see them easily,” he adds.

But while big brands such as Zappos and Amazon have improved their UX game, small and medium businesses have a long way to go in perfecting the user experience for their website users.

“UX is a process, not a checklist of features that every website can implement because the goals of each business are different. However, there are a few common UX features that all e-commerce sites can benefit from,” says Chambers.

Here Chambers shares five tips to help you create a better UX design.

1. Include personality and emotion in the design of your website. Your website visitors are humans, so a meaningful or delightful interaction will have an important effect on their confidence, loyalty and resilience. Some of the ways to do this by using high quality images over stock images and using a personal tone of voice in all your website content.

2. Make careful use of social media. A well-designed social media experience with prominent sharing buttons and widgets can help your customers connect with your staff and other customers through social media. Include and encourage honest customer reviews, as well as candid product videos, and make it easy for your brand’s fans to shout from the rooftops (share and engage) online.

3. Choose flexible software solution. If you’re using an off-the-shelf software solution, be aware that some software options will heavily constrain your ability to do the tweaking necessary for a good customer experience, especially around shopping carts and checkouts. You want something that is powerful and reliable, but also something that is flexible enough to grow with you as you learn.

4. Use data to analyse design improvements. Use a heat-mapping add-on or check the page flow using Google Analytics to ensure you have a good understanding of how people move around your website. For example, measuring conversion rates before and after a design change will give you objective results.

5. Be accessible. Put your customer service contact details in a prominent place and make people feel welcome to contact you. You’d be surprised at how much that adds to their level of trust, as well as keep you in the loop with their thinking.

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