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The 4 Most Common Mistakes in Retail Site Design

 
 

Business | Satchell Drakes |
17 January 2023

First impressions are (almost) everything in marketing, and an e-commerce business’s website is its shopfront. This means that your brand needs to think hard about the experience your site offers new visitors.

If site users are abandoning their carts, your website’s design might be letting you down. Let’s go through some of the most common mistakes in User Experience (UX) design that might be costing you sales.

1. Underestimating the importance of the Homepage

Researchers tested user interactions on the 73 top-grossing US and European e-commerce websites. They found that issues with general UX homepage and navigation items were the most common motivators for people to abandon their carts.

This is because the homepage and navigation are vital waypoints in the buyer’s journey. In the testing of 10,900 UX elements, new users aged 21-56 identified the homepage and navigation as their critical resource for learning about a brand and its product offerings. They were also users’ top resources for learning about what makes a brand or product unique and different.

Your on-page strategy should also depend on the size of your business. In a combination of large aggregate and direct-to-consumer (DTC) websites, nearly all users on DTC websites explored the whole homepage to obtain the best understanding of a brand's offerings and backstory. Amongst large B2C websites, users mainly focused on the content above the fold.

During testing, most users confidently assumed that a homepage would briefly showcase everything significant about a brand and its products. This spanned the gamut from identifying best-selling items to showcasing a differentiating company backstory.

2. Not Leading with What Makes You Different

One common source of a poor first impression is a lack of upfront differentiators on your site. If users scanning the homepage are unsure what makes your brand and product unique, they are likely to abandon the site.

For a more detailed insight into how to develop your e-commerce value proposition, listen in to this conversation with a former Managing Director for Amazon UK.

3. Looking like you’re marking your own homework

Customers are often skeptical of on-site product reviews. While plug-ins offer webmasters the option to solicit and present reviews on their own sites, this creates trust issues among actual users.

Put simply, people doubt that the reviews they see aren’t just written by the company themselves.

User testing shows that most visitors prefer to conduct their own searches via Google, Instagram, YouTube, or Reddit.

Customers tend to doubt that a review system fully moderated and audited by the brand they were purchasing from could be fully trustworthy.

Social media posts are seen as the best source for honest assessments of businesses. This is because they appear the most independent and authentic. One user stated, "Instagram is almost another way to look at reviews."

All this means that your brand needs to consider its off-site presence and perception. Users’ cursory searches will determine their perception of your value and credibility.

In this light, many brands have chosen to embed third-party reviews on their website. This keeps users within the brand's experience and away from potential detractors.

This is not a full safeguard from customers’ exploration, and they may still find negative reviews elsewhere. Nonetheless, people will trust external content hosted on a brand's website over a first-party review system.

Only 3 in 10 DTC websites currently integrate social media into their homepage. This presents a significant opportunity for you to differentiate yourself, while encouraging engagement.

4. Neglecting your best-sellers

UX elements studies show that Category Taxonomy is a frequent weak spot in the retail site experience. Over 25% of top e-commerce websites are marked for having a broken experience, while 50% are rated as mediocre. The culprit is most often over-categorization.

When a retail website fails to present a clear path to relevant products, a user may become overwhelmed. This is doubly true amongst brands that are smaller or lesser known for their offerings.

Testing revealed two solutions that that minimize confusion.

a. Elevating a Best-Sellers section or category

Highlighting your best-performing products helps customers quickly find what they’re looking for. This can be a small-to-medium sized brand’s primary means of showing a new customer the products and services they're best at providing.

23% of users testing an e-commerce site with a Best-Sellers category used it, with the majority of those users making it their first destination.

b. Keeping your catalogue free of product variations

DTC sites should keep product catalogues as simple as possible.

Many sites inflate their brand catalogue by splitting out minor product variations. This is often done by showing different colours of the same product as separate items.
In testing, users reacted very negatively towards e-commerce websites that "padded" their product lists in this way. Customers felt that it obscures the true quantity of offerings available.

It also put users in a challenging position where they could never quite be sure what products they'd already checked out.  People had to spend more time scrolling for unique items. This makes customers feel punished for diving deeper into a brand's offerings.

Simply avoiding this temptation will go a long way in lifting your site’s UX above your competitors’.

Digital, done smarter

At Endava, we bring value to our clients by understanding their needs, growth edges, and complexities. Our teams build bespoke technological solutions that maximise retailers’ market success.

New technologies can change your business’s prospects for good, but it’s important not to fly blind. Download our recent whitepaper to introduce yourself to a new gameplan for growing your tech stack.

Satchell Drakes

UX Lead

Satchell is a lead Product Designer and Video Producer with 12+ years experience in UX & UI. He joined Endava in 2011 as a junior designer and followed the tech industry from the early days of skeuomorphic app design, through its formative years of user experience development. Since joining, he has been working on providing human-centered solutions for products across all industries. Satchell believes in advocating for the user by building products that respect their agency.

 

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