E-commerce Usability: 8 Guidelines

Ecommerce User Experience (UX)

The main goal of any online store is to attract more potential buyers and increase sales with minimum expenses on advertising. ?

The most important task is not to grow traffic but to improve the conversion of visitors into buyers. And better e-commerce usability is essential to increase sales. Read the articles below for examples of bad usability on the homepage, mobile checkout, category pages, the ‘add to cart’ button, and other elements of an e-commerce website. These are the web design approaches to avoid. What you should do we will cover below ?.

This post covers the main usability guidelines that should help you design a convenient mobile site or e-commerce store. Use this ultimate guide to offer the best shopping experience to your website’s visitors.

E-commerce usability has become a trigger of sellers’ success.

With the constantly evolving e-commerce space, UX research and implementing new trends is the smart move that your business needs to boost. Your e-business platform should be attractive to users, appeal to their needs, emphasize your selling offer’s uniqueness, and evoke trust and understanding. So here are some trendy tips and best practices to make your electronic commerce platform user-friendly:

  • Focus on humanity, communicate emotions, evoke feelings. Try to make the overall user experience as personalized as possible by sending unique messages and guiding them throughout the site and the whole process of buying. There are many people with motor, auditory, visual, speech, or cognitive disorders whose specific needs should be considered when building an e-tail platform. So ensure the ease with which a visitor faces no obstacles or delays.
  • Study your target audience carefully since you need to set the right expectations. Consider usability changes tailored to your main user group for the best experience.
  • Visualize the data collected from your users to run test tasks and apply other usability testing methods Clearly written test tasks must provide the best insight into what works on your website and what doesn’t.
  • Fill the site with so-called delighters, that is, animations that make an online shop more engaging.
  • Enable dual-screen versions of your sites that do not limit your customers to using a specific device.
  • Do not make users go either right or left. Enable freedom of navigation with multidirectional grid layouts. Also, focus on the navigation menu instead of hiding it.
  • Integrate the best-selling products to the design of your e-tail site, for instance, by using the same color scheme or a one-click add to cart button
  • Embed a comprehensive set of features in your e-commerce platform to simplify the search.
  • Prefer light, neutral, pastel background colors that will keep the users’ attention on essential visuals of the products you offer instead of distracting them.
  • Try adding freshness to the aesthetic look of your electronic commerce site, for instance, by replacing traditional circles with ovals.
  • Minimize steps in the checkout process, requesting only the details you need for payment and delivery. Also, make sure users can find out the shipping cost before confirming the order.
  • Add detailed product information but make it concise and easy-to-read for users. Keep the type of product in mind to determine what details about the product they are looking for.
  • Start evaluating different usability testing examples while designing a website to pick the most suitable testing method. It may be a heatmap, session recordings, A/B test, or any other method to analyze the results of usability changes.

This article will take a closer look at the notion of “e-commerce usability,” its impact on conversion, and other indicators. Also, you will learn what principles of usability are critical to making your online store more convenient for visitors.

While creating e-commerce platforms for our customers, we have developed an optimum solution for small businesses, which addresses the main website usability issues to reach the above-average conversion. If your website was built by another agency, you should do analytics to understand what can be improved. This is especially true for e-commerce sites, which are constantly developing. As with the growth of traffic, you have to consider many indicators, such as:

  • The bounce rate for entering pages and traffic channels;
  • The bounce rate for browsers;
  • Percentage of abandoned shopping carts;
  • Setting events for pages and buttons in Analytics;
  • And several other important things.

These metrics will help you understand and measure different aspects of your website. You will see how underlying usability affects sales and find ways to improve the user experience.

What Is E-commerce Usability and Why Is It Important?

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What does usability mean? Talking about “e-commerce usability,” we mean the extent to which a particular interface is comfortable and straightforward for users. Therefore, if your online store is difficult to use or visitors cannot understand how to interact with it, potential customers will leave your website without a purchase, and you, in turn, will have a lower income. This way, we can come to a simple but correct conclusion: Better quality of e-commerce usability = More sales

Of course, there are some logical limitations, and the majority of electronic commerce platforms can reach only a specific conversion rate, depending on their target audience and other factors. Yet it would help if you always tried to do your best. Even 0.5-1% growth in conversion rate can lead to a substantial increase in income for big sellers. A comfortable, understandable, interactive online store attracts the attention of potential buyers and holds it.

I think in E-commerce it is harder to convince sometimes the clients that success isn’t only defined with what they want to see. With user test minor insights can have directly impact on a bigger target audience. Focus less on the KPI’s more on the experience of the user.

Esther Meijers
Esther Meijers
UX designer | Strategist at Positive NL

Currently, many e-tail websites are unable to keep customers just because their pages and product categories are inconvenient. If a home page or any other page visited by users does not meet their needs or they cannot complete specific tasks, they leave it. If some information is incomprehensible, they don’t read it. If visitors get lost on your e-tail website, again, they go somewhere else.

It’s important to understand that the indicator of e-commerce usability is in many respects dependent on the topic of a website. It may greatly vary from an online store of devices to selling clothes. Therefore, visitors’ attention is focused:

  • on a price the website offers
  • on the photo of a product,
  • on ratings and reviews
  • and advantages of the online selling platform. Filters in a catalog also have some impact and so on.

For that reason, in the current market conditions, the quality of e-commerce usability becomes a vital factor for the survival of a business. No matter how much you spend on advertising, don’t even hope for sales if your site is inconvenient to use.

Bounce Rate and Conversion Rate

Many owners of online stores already know that to increase sales, they must work on conversion rate optimization. They also need to monitor the engagement rate using Google Analytics 4 or another tool that tracks it. The engagement rate shows the percentage of sessions considered as not engaged sessions (a bounce). If a user visits your homepage, stays for several seconds, and leaves without triggering any events, it’s a bounce or not engaged session. If they stay for over 10 seconds and have several conversion events or screen views, it’s an engaged session. And the more engaged sessions, the better.

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But still, not all website owners understand that conversion, engagement, and bounce rate directly depends on the quality of e-commerce usability. This is the first point you should consider if you want to keep your buyers. View a few examples of the actual bounce rate of websites of different topics in the screenshot below. For example, an online store of clothes has the lowest percentage.

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Consult professional web analysts who will conduct a thorough analysis of your site, its web usability, and users’ behavior. This will allow you to detect your weaknesses and develop an action plan to improve the situation with your official website. For this purpose, you can also contact the agency as certified Google Analytics experts with many years of experience work.

In e-commerce, usability improvement usually has a significant impact on the level of conversion. Users are more likely to convert when their experience is smooth. Maybe, you will be forced to implement a whole set of changes, both on visual and structural levels of your website. In some cases, you may have to redo old landing pages or create new ones to focus users’ attention on the essential elements of the e-tail platform. Cooperation with designers, layout specialists, and developers will allow the implementation of any complexity quickly and timely.

Why is Good E-commerce Usability Better For You?

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Many studies carried out by experts have proven that better usability reduces the costs needed to maintain an online store’s website, makes its users more satisfied with their experience, and increases benefits from higher targeted traffic.

By testing and further implementing usability changes on a site, its owner gets a whole set of advantages. With the help of dedicated specialists, you will be able to conduct the required tests of your e-tail platform and make necessary adjustments based on their results.

Competitive market analysis. In many niches, most buyers compare the same product in different online stores before purchasing. In such cases, when they have poor usability on one site, this also forms a negative perception of its brand. And vice versa – with all else being equal – if your site is more comfortable and has better credibility, most probably you will be the one buyers choose.

Increased efficiency of a new website design. When everything works seamlessly, the cost of technical support goes down, users have fewer issues, the maintenance of a site becomes cheaper, and its operation gives more profit.

More satisfied customers. A website designed to be as comfortable for users as possible and meets their needs turns visitors into happy customers. At the same time, a satisfied customer = a loyal customer, which generates repeat sales. Hence, customers in general trust your site more. Such buyers will stay with you and will never go to your competitors.

No unnecessary losses. This category comprises interrupted transactions, so-called “abandoned shopping carts,” a high bounce rate, and a lost profit. It’s almost impossible to return a dissatisfied customer who left the e-tail website. Whereas high-quality work on website usability can prevent this situation.

Before you start implementing any changes, consult experts about them. Professional web analytics has a significant advantage: such analysis allows tracking users’ behavior on electronic commerce sites. This is more reliable than just some verbal comments because, as you know, people often have difficulties formulating what they want. When you observe the behavior of users, it’s much easier to understand their goals and motives.

Usability of an Online Store: Main Principles

When it comes to e-commerce, even supposedly tiny details play a crucial role. A product description, blocks with indicated advantages, photos, or size and color of a Buy button – there are many ways to optimize pages to increase traffic and improve conversion. Professionals of our agency have already launched hundreds of online stores, and we have tips for you on how to improve e-commerce usability, which will help you start earning more right now.

Navigation and Structure

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Complicated and unclear navigation is one of the greatest mistakes you can often encounter in online stores. Websites need a structure that would allow users to find necessary information with a minimum number of clicks. The ease of navigation stimulates visitors to spend more time on the site, reading its pages. Moreover, a well-thought-out structure of the electronic commerce platform is also critical for search engine optimization (SEO) and top search results

Readability of Text

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Have you ever tried to read green text on a black background? Or have you dealt with a font size that needs a magnifying glass to be deciphered? But this happens. Properly structured text, the right typography, and a good combination of colors will guarantee visitors won’t have problems while reading a description of goods or other important information.

The convenience of a Product Catalog

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The more products you have in your catalog, the more critical it is. Provide your users with a possibility to sort goods by various parameters, such as price, date of receipt, popularity, etc. Design and implement product filters to let potential buyers use different options to find a product and allow them to compare different types of goods.

Description and Photo of a Product

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The more information a buyer can get on your website, the better customer experience is. That’s why you should view the photo and description of a product as an essential element of e-commerce usability. All necessary components must be located on one page: a detailed product description, high-quality images, technical specifications, price, stock availability, shipping costs, payment options, etc. The quality of photos should be good, whereas making a certain number of images from different angles depends on what you sell.

Similar Products

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For almost all goods, there is a possibility to offer an alternative or related product. It’s not difficult to show them in a separate block on a product page. This will allow a user to view additional offers and increase the likelihood of a purchase, helping to choose.

Responsive Version of an E-commerce Website

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Despite mobile devices and the higher display resolution of smartphones and tablets, their size remains small. Hence, if an online store doesn’t have a design with a responsive layout, it will be uncomfortable to browse and use it on such gadgets. Moreover, considering that mobile traffic continues to grow, the absence of a responsive version for mobile shopping experience will significantly harm traffic and potential profit.

E-commerce Usability Testing

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E-commerce usability testing is research during which you go through a list of items, identify mistakes, fix them, increase conversion rate, and make your website more appealing to users. The Plerdy team has worked out such a complete checklist of issues significant to pay attention to while performing e-commerce usability testing. About 200+ factors that influence conversion are included in the list. They all are divided into 15 categories: general recommendations, product, product segmentation, registration, purchase, sales, feedback, structure, design, call-to-action, content, technical, cart, search box, backlinks. The process of testing includes both UI and UX design.

After such a complex evaluation of a site regarding the ease of use and the efficiency of its elements, you can significantly increase e-commerce usability and enhance sales.

Plerdy has developed a comprehensive guide on usability testing with helpful tips to achieve maximum benefit. It will assist you in turning a poorly thought-out site on which users often get lost into a user-friendly one on which users want to stay and perform some target actions.

You can either follow it and access the e-commerce usability of your site by yourself or entrust the auditing to specialists.

Contact Information and Terms of Service

All necessary contact information should be readily noticeable for proper usability of your e-commerce website. For example, if a potential buyer comes up with some questions, one should contact your representative right away and have several options (telephone, email, live support functionality) to do that. Some web resources integrate a website and social media to connect through messaging. The choice of contact channels is essential, as people may have various preferences.

Also, pages about delivery and payment, return policy, and others should be accessed from any page. This increases the level of trust of your potential buyers in your business. People more often buy from those they trust, not those who sell cheaper.

Generally, we can talk a lot about improving e-commerce usability; and in the nearest future, we will undoubtedly devote a separate article to this topic. Working on this factor, you will achieve steady profit growth, as SEO and other Internet marketing tools will become more effective. This is an opportunity to make your electronic commerce site a place where users will be happy to return.


Usability has an enormous impact on the success and sales of any e-commerce store. Buyers prefer intuitive websites that take minimum time to place an order and complete the payment. Some best practices described in this article can help you design a convenient online store, but you must also connect analytics tools. Only UX and behavior analytics software can show users’ actions on website pages. You see the obstacles they face and why they bounce to enhance their experience. Quality UX leads to increased conversions and profit.

Andrew Chornyy - 001
Article by:
CEO Andrew Chornyy

CEO Plerdy — expert in SEO&CRO with over 11 years of experience.

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