User Centered Ecommerce Design – A Complete Guide To Get Your UI/UX For Ecommerce Right.

As I sat down sipping my coffee, my mind was still on the book I had read about, earlier in the day. The book was all over the internet. Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk. For a minute, I thought of ordering it online, only to stop myself and think, let me experiment today. Why shop with the same applications?

I quickly picked up my phone, skipped all my regular shopping apps, from Amazon to Flipkart (I knew I could get the book there) and visited to a new website, you know just to try out.

Have you ever felt like somebody picked you up and slammed you right to the ground, like how Hulk slams Loki in The Avengers movie? Well, that is exactly how I felt. It was as if the site was mocking me for skipping those e-commerce apps on my phone. This site was more like someone had thrown in a few items, a contact form and a credit card form and said “Voila! Here is your website!”

It is a known fact that nowadays to sell products, one doesn’t need a brick and mortar store, and instead needs a good online store. But for an e-commerce store to survive among the plethora of others, the store needs to impress its customers. But how do you do that?

Jeff Bezos says, “Build a great experience, customers will tell each other about it.”

As we delve deeper into the experience of shopping online, we realize that with the leap of innovation in technology and its role in the everyday life of shoppers, a solid user-centered design for an online store is one of the major factors for its success.

There are numerous factors on which the success of an e-commerce store depends on. As a part of the success story, UI/UX plays an important role by directly influencing customer decisions. On this ground, let us learn a little more about UI/UX for e-commerce and how people see it.

Why is it so Important?

“Is design so important for an online store’s success?” I’m pretty sure this is the first thought that comes into your mind when you think of UI/UX. However, you should know that several other factors like load time, ease of use on mobile, easy navigation and more, that vouch for a great UI/UX.

With so many elements making an impact on what a customer thinks of your store, it is quite evident

that a bad user experience will most likely result in you loosing out on a potential buyer. To make things hard, there are thousands of other options for shoppers and this will certainly be a driving force for a visitor to leave your website.

A recent report estimates that
– 35% of shoppers abandoned cart because they found a better store with better prices.
– Close to 25% of the shoppers decided against buying because the website navigation was too complicated.
– 20% of the shoppers decided to move on to another site because the process was taking too long.

So what are ecommerce stores doing wrong? Let us delve a little deeper into this.

Forcing to create an account

I don’t understand why e-commerce stores do this! Why do you need customer information even before they have ordered your products? Asking the customer to sign up mandatorily before moving further just adds unwanted hassle to the shopping experience. Why create such issues which can prompt your shoppers to drop off? Instead, you can ask for the required information after they place an order, and let them know that they can use it to track their orders.

No search box

It is not surprising to see that one in three people decide against a purchase because they did not find what they were looking for. Just think of it this way. Of all the people coming to your online store, who do you think will use a search bar? Those who are more likely to convert! An optimized search bar with the right filter options, ability to handle long tail keywords and auto complete feature can give you insights on what your customers are looking for on your e-commerce store.

Lack Of product details

How often have you visited an online store and felt like sitting in a car with no engine? In other words, too much emphasis on products and price and not much on the actual data required. Online shopping

has one huge disadvantage in the form of lack of interaction with the shoppers. To overcome this, e-commerce stores need to be spot on in providing the best in-store shopping experience.

Product information is an important factor that determines a shopping experience for people. As shoppers take extra measures to ensure that they make an informed purchase when buying online, rich product information (with some great images) can play a huge role in influencing their purchase decisions.

Clumsy Menu and Navigation

Imagine an online store with absolutely no categories for products, navigation elements and just

a common menu with your cart and customer service links. There is nothing worse for an ecommerce store than this. No matter where a customer lands on, it is the navigation bar and the menu that play a huge role in providing all the necessary information. With a cluttered navigation, you are not helping yourself as it results in more people just dropping out from your store.

Checkout

I’m sure you would have come across this point everywhere in the ecommerce space. DO NOT complicate your checkout. The entire process should be smooth and easy for the customers as they definitely don’t want to end up facing a tedious task. It is important that you keep your checkout page short and straightforward with minimal and necessary fields only.

A recent study examined that among the top 100 ecommerce sites in the world, a near perfect checkout process includes an average of 5.08 number of steps, and 19 number of fields in an order or payment form.

Mobile Optimization – Crucial, Yet Overlooked

When in 2016, mobile search surpassed the desktop numbers for the first time ever, mobile apps turned into a mainstream in the ecommerce industry. Though the term “Mobile Commerce” was first coined two decades ago, it is the technological advancements in the recent years that has enabled shoppers to search, explore, review and buy goods on a pocket-size hand held device. It is not surprising to see that in 2016, there was a 44% increase in spending on mobile devices when compared to the previous year. And by 2020, mobile commerce is expected to grow by 45%.

Despite the great numbers, users are still concerned over the entire shopping experience on a mobile device. But what exactly is a good experience on a mobile device?

Minimal Load Time

A recent report says that mobile users in general are five times more likely to abandon an ecommerce store if it takes quite a time load. Lesser the customers have to wait, better it is for your store.

Security

One of the major concerns for buyers is the lack of security for their financial information when using a mobile device. As an owner of the ecommerce store, you should clearly communicate on the page that it is secure by emphasizing on the same visually.

Forms

Mobile forms can be a disaster if they are not well placed on the site. Improved form labels, ease of use, good readability, and appropriate text inputs are some of the factors that needs to be taken care of while optimizing a mobile form.

There are numerous factors which you can take advantage of to improve the experience on your site.

After having discussed the big guns, here are a couple of other “overlooked” aspects of an e-commerce design that needs to be taken care of for a better engagement with the customers.

Images – Bigger the Better

Over the years, e-commerce stores have embraced large product images with more details visible.With a picture worth a thousand words, an e-commerce site with enticing product images can certainly have a positive impact on the buyers. Large images can show much detail, multiple views and other information that can answer some of the questions in a buyer’s mind.

One of the best e-commerce sites that make good use of gigantic product images is Mulberry. With its huge images and easy navigation, buyers find it very easy and pleasing to use.

mulberry

Product Videos – They Talk a Lot

It is high time you consider your “loyal” product pages again. How well are they doing in retaining the buyers? Are they good enough to bring them again? What makes them interesting? Videos I suppose?
Videos play an important role in prompting buyers to spend more time on the page. A critical feature of your content marketing strategy, videos help in drawing the attention to a particular product.

But that doesn’t mean that you just use some video with no details. What matters is the right approach and the e-commerce site of ‘Bellroy” is the best example. For each of their products, they have a set of images and a short video that explains all the features of that product.

bellroy

Let them Know

Your design might be inspiring for an e-commerce site, but the efficiency of your store depends on the number of purchases you complete by the end of the day. There are several factors that come into the picture to influence the buyers on a site.

One such crucial factor is the navigation on your site. With intuitive navigation, you can let your buyers know what brand they are dealing with, their products and a clear step by step interaction irrespective of their intent to buy or just to explore your site.

Graze does a great job with its menu with clear-cut navigation and information on what the company is and what it does.

graze

Conclusion

Best practices, important points, guides and errors to rectify are beautiful, informative, wonderful and all that. But they can take you only up to a certain point. Every ecommerce store with its own set of target audience is different which means that it has its own set of UI/UX problems. Do your research, observe your customers, learn their behavior, see what they want and put yourself in their shoes to check if your store is providing the same. It is all about making your customers’ decisions easier with your innovative ideas.

Author Bio:

Ganesh is a marketer and blogger at Specbee, a leading ecommerce and CMS solution provider. When he is not busy in exploring new technologies and writing about them, you can find him in a football ground going gaga over the game. You can follow Specbee’s blog for more of his articles.

Automation 360: How 4th Industrial Revolution changes marketing

In contrast to the three previous industrial revolutions when people interacted within quite narrow communities of their families and friends, the current 4th Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) exposes the huge global society to everyone connected to the internet. Now it is paradoxically possible to communicate in any mode be that one-to-one (or peer-to-peer), one-to-many, and even many-to-many via social media. What challenges do the contemporary marketers face in such a multi-channel communication?

On the one hand, the consumer audience is transcending borders and nations to become global. That’s why marketers should be able to cover thousands, oftentimes hundreds of thousands of the international customers almost simultaneously. On the other hand, the ample supply of goods in the market generates a fierce competition among brands when every single customer matters. That’s why marketers should establish personal relations with literally each client.

Is there a way out from a tense confrontation among such mutually exclusive factors? Who can help marketers respond to the challenge of IR4.0? And which technology can save marketers from a split personality caused by synchronically desirable globalization and customization? The answers follow.

Too big to be ignored

The very purpose of the 4th Industrial revolution comes to the total digitization of every process where it is ever possible. The most apparent implication of such a principle takes place in the information technologies. According to stats, more than 3.8 billion email boxes are available in 2018. More than a half of email users enter their inboxes via mobile gadgets. Email keeps primacy in terms of ROI brought to brands in consequence of their digital marketing campaigns. Thus, the contemporary marketers have to dive headfirst into the digitized customer relations. An average statistics dedicated to the email contact lists starts calculating subscribers in thousands. It is clear that manual processing of all emails in every marketing campaign is the Herculean task any marketer can hardly cope with. However, the bulk sending procedures have long been known to both legal marketers and spammers. That’s why the real challenge for the marketers implies making their bulk sendings meaningful and relevant to the huge subscriber audiences.

Personalization takes effort

How to take care of every subscriber? This question is not idle for the marketers whose contact lists contain thousands of emails. The common logic suggests dividing a subscriber audience into several groups basing on their interests, shopping histories, as well as on any other relevant indicator. In such a case, the simplest approach comes to making huge tables where all data retrieved from the communication with subscribers could be manually amended. Will the Microsoft Excel be of any help then? Probably it will, but the more reasonable method is to create a special software capable of providing an automatic segmentation of the subscribers. However, a proprietary software will require many thousand dollars of investment along with many months of programme development. Such a solution is unfortunately far from being feasible in every particular case. There has to be another way to provide marketers with an effective personalization of their campaigns.

SaaS to the rescue

Even though the notorious digital revolution made marketers face many challenges in terms of both the size of customer audiences and customization of marketing campaigns, some revolutionary new methods of doing business appeared thanks to IR4.0 in fact. One of the most viable and trendy approaches in the contemporary business environment is defined with such a specific word expression as (something)-as-a-Service. Many various terms can be put into the expression instead of “something”: Business Process-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and even Product-as-a-Service which determines the very essence of the approach. In brief, it implies a transformation of an object into a process. Taxi is the oldest example of such an approach when a car becomes a transportation service on the basis of rent. Now it is possible to use the capabilities of some specific software without having to either purchase or install it on your computer. Google Docs, for example, makes the MS Word software redundant, especially when your OS is not Windows.

Marketing Automation-as-a-Service

Here we are achieving the reasonable solution capable of meeting the contemporary marketing challenges. In addition to the SaaS approach, the solution follows another fundamental trend of the present moment in terms of the so-called sharing economy. The latter implies sharing some facilities or products among many users. The apartment owners share their housing with the other people via AirBnB application. And that is how the majority of services are to be arranged in the future. Nevertheless, even today every digital marketer can join the trend since the other professional marketers offer their web-based marketing platforms for sharing. Look at the universal bulk sending system from SendPulse, for example. As a team of professional digital marketers, SendPulse offers everyone to benefit from their rich practical experience reflected in their advanced marketing software. This is Marketing Automation-as-a-Service. And this is for sharing.

How Automation 360 meets IR4.0 challenges

Automation 360 is a synergetic web-based software system allowing marketers to re-arrange their routines in the efficient automatic manner. As a subsection of the holistic SendPulse bulk sending platform, Automation 360 is created by marketers for marketers. In response to the personalization challenge of large subscriber audiences, Automation 360 makes some predetermined software algorithms automatically perform many tasks that marketers had to do manually in the past. The core idea of Automation 360 implies using various behaviors of customers as the triggering events generating one or another marketing campaign. Hence, however massive is a subscriber database, a marketer can figure out and set up a personal approach to every particular recipient. What makes the system unprecedentedly effective is a combination of such basic communication channels as email, SMS, and web push notifications. In addition, Automation 360 helps marketers enforce their reputation via an SMTP service allowing messages to pass successfully through various spam filters. And the most important is that Automation 360 is accessible via any browser whatever devices and operating systems marketers use.

IFTTT in marketing

Specific programming principles and algorithms are occupying the discourse of modern marketing. And this is for a reason. The basic formula of any programming language IFTTT (If This, Then That) works well at the level of marketing software in terms of arranging automatic workflows. Automation 360 allows marketers to specify various variables reflecting the conditions at which the customer’s behavior triggers a particular reaction from the marketing system. This stage corresponds to the “If This” section of the IFTTT formula. The “Condition” logical block reflects such a stage in Automation 360. After that, a particular flow of the system in the form of a certain marketing campaign starts working automatically until a predefined marketing goal is achieved. This is equal to the “Then That” part of the formula as well as to the “Action + Goal” blocks in Automation 360. Thus, the marketers can act as just operators whose task is to figure out what they want to get from the subscribers. The rest will be done automatically by Automation 360.

Conclusion

Quite a specific modus operandi is expected from the marketers in the days of the 4th industrial revolution. Huge international customer audiences – in tens and hundreds of thousands – require meaningful and relevant marketing campaigns. Moreover, every particular customer matters when brands fiercely compete in the ample contemporary markets. Hence, both the global outreach and personalized communication make the marketers look for the automated but flexible approaches to their workflows. Only advanced marketing software platforms can act likewise. The Automation 360 system from the universal bulk sending platform of SendPulse meets the two progressive trends of nowadays: to be software-as-a-service (SaaS) and to belong to the sharing economy. Thus, a relevant response to the challenges of IR4.0 is possible only through the automated system created by marketers for marketers within the same digital paradigm.

How Sharing Economy Can Be Used by Small Business Owners

The sharing economy is relatively recent, but it’s been rapidly well received. In a world where everyone is trying to save a little money, people found a way to help each other be successful. Small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs all regularly use the sharing economy to accomplish as much as they can for as little as possible. Whenever and however you need help, there’s always an expert waiting for you.

For Office Space

If you aren’t yet at the point where you’re looking to get your very own office (ahem, budget concerns), you probably feel trapped running your small business from your kitchen table. Coworking spaces may not provide you with the environment that you need, and traditional rent can be quite steep. When you find yourself in this situation, you can use sites like Spacer to rent office space from someone who has the extra room. You’ll feel a little more legitimate, and you won’t wind up running yourself into debt while you’re trying to get the ball rolling.

For Deliveries

If your small business makes occasional local deliveries, you’ve probably encountered a few snags. You can’t always leave to make the deliveries yourself, and it’s expensive to hire someone whose sole job is to make those deliveries. A lot of smartphone app driven ride sharing services offer their drivers as couriers. When something comes up, you can call to arrange a pickup and a delivery. It will all be done the same day, and no one has to interrupt anything they’re doing in order to perform a task that might be outside of their job description.

Temps and Freelance Work

If you only need 20 or so hours’ worth of work done a week and putting someone permanently on the payroll isn’t an option for you, you don’t necessarily need to learn to do that work by yourself. Outsourcing specific jobs to freelancers, such as blog writing or social media management, gives you some room to negotiate. You can pay them per task completed, and since they’re freelance, they can work from anywhere.

The same goes for temps. If you experience a busy season during your business (i.e. florists around Valentine’s day, toy stores in the winter), you can hire a seasonal temp to help you juggle everything you’re dealing with.

Finding Small Investors

If you’re trying to develop a new product and you’re low on cash, the idea of taking on more venture debt probably feels intimidating. Instead, you can always turn to crowdfunding platforms. These people don’t want to be paid back, and they don’t want any equity in your small business. They just believe in your concept, and they want to preorder for a lower cost. Crowdfunding campaigns are easy to launch and manage. At the end, everyone is happy because they’ve gotten what they wanted.

Networking and Trading

Small businesses and startups trading products and services isn’t new. As long as you aren’t competing with the business you’re networking or trading with, it’s mutually beneficial. It’s important to meet other small business owners or employees. Use your professional social networks to find people who would be willing to trade service for service. Even if a local restaurant needs some supplies that you could provide with your advertisement on them, it all works out at the end.

The sharing economy is changing the way a lot of people buy and sell. The modern consumer has adopted it with open arms, and your small business only stands to gain by following suit.

Emma Lewis is a loving mother, a devoted wife and a part of the team supporting Spacer – a company helping you find storage space whenever you need it. Emma is also a staunch supporter of the sharing economy and often mentions its benefits.

12 Ways to Build Strong SEO Foundations

The secret to building a successful website doesn’t solely rely on wonderful UX and UI. To drive traffic and eventually drive sales to your website, you should apply search engine optimization on your website. However, the concept of SEO is as structural as other strategies could be.

A strong foundation in SEO can reflect your business’ objective goals. If your website’s SEO strategy lacks the foundation to make it “future-proof”, you definitely won’t see any ROI from your investment.

Google’s getting smarter; with its machine learning capabilities, what takes months to accomplish can now happen in real-life. So if you’re website’s not getting any traffic, you should look under the hood and check if you have the necessary components to rank in the search results.

Technical SEO: Building Foundations to Rank Better

Prevent risks by checking out this essential checklist you should work on your website’s SEO strategy:

Robots.txt

These crawlers would communicate with search engines spiders. There are only few who deals with robots.txt, a single overrule could knock you off on search engines. Robots.txt is pretty handy if you want to implement site-wide rules, but it is important that you check this first to see if you’re blocking important pages, especially those target pages that you want to rank in the SERPs.

301 Redirects

Redirects are a fickle thing to implement. While some SEOs prefer redirects because it is direct, sometimes that’s not the case that you want to implement. Generally, we recommend assessing pages that you want to redirect. Perform a redirect if the two pages are identical, for example, www to non-www pages. Beware of implementing 301 redirects as it may create an infinite loop if you’re not careful.

3. Canonical Tags

Joost de Valk of Yoast defined canonical URLs as a way that allows you to tell search engines that certain similar URLs are actually one and the same.

Canonical tags may be confusing for some, but let’s see this way. For example:

You have two pages, http://example.com/canonical and http://example.com/canonicalization.

Use 301 if: there are no technical reasons hindering you from doing so, then by all means implement that 301!

Use canonical tags: if redirecting will disrupt the user experience or it doesn’t make sense to redirect it because it’s just another version of the page, use canonicals.

Rand Fishkin of Moz has explained the best practices of using canonical tags in a Whiteboard Friday session.

4. Relative vs absolute links

This is a debatable topic for SEOs and web developers. While it may be convenient for developers to use relative links in a site, it doesn’t work the same way as for SEOs.

Relative links are coded as <a href = /page>, while absolute links are coded as <a href = http://example.com/page>.

Relative links are prone to scraping, duplicate content, and costing Google real money. Ruth Burr Reedy discussed this in a Whiteboard Friday presentation at Moz, and this is where it gets technical: Google has an allocated crawl budget that costs them real money. If a site doesn’t have their architecture in line, chances are Google wouldn’t bother crawling the rest of your site. Absolute links and a better architecture can make it easier for the spiders to crawl your site and get it indexed.

5. Search-engine friendly URLs

To give you a clearer picture, let’s say your page gives out:

https://www.example.com/good-url

instead of:

https://www.example.com/asdfgh123456

Ensure your URLs are easy to understand by users and search engines. Aside from giving reliability and assurance that your site is not just another hacked or spammy page, it simply abides the golden rule of not placing your business at stake as one of the poor and unusual URLs.

6. No-follow links

There are instances that your website is being linked up with something too far from your field. But sometimes you needed to credit a creator if you want their work on your end, in this situation you can add a no-follow tag to the link.

This will help search engine emphasize your website by being notified that the given link is not as important as your website. However, be cautious in applying no-follow tags on your links. While it helps you segment link juice to more important links, we reckon that you shouldn’t over use it. Maintain a healthy balance of do-follow and no-follow links.

7. Sitemap

If your website is ready to be indexed, you would need to take the chance of submitting it to the search engines. You can submit it too even if you’re re-indexing, and if you have several changes on your site.

Remember that we discussed a bit about crawl budget? You can help Google crawl your website better with multiple sitemaps. If you’ve been using a single sitemap, try create multiple sitemaps to get your pages crawled and indexed better. Using a WordPress plugin like Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold can help you create those sitemaps easier. If you own a smaller website, you can use the free version of ScreamingFrog to generate your own XML sitemap.

When you’re done uploading your sitemap/s, you can send it directly to Google via Google Search Console and Bing via Bing Webmaster Tools.

Metadata

The best rule one should think through regarding SEO is having content written specifically for humans and not for the search engine itself.

Metadata has three parts: links, descriptions and the title, of course. Appropriate keywords should be included in meta descriptions and titles but not to the point of placing everything on it to emphasize what your content is all about.

The best meta description one could ever provide is attracting and crave-worthy reasons in just 230 characters on why searcher should click your site.

You can always check your competitor’s code to see what they are aiming for in ranking.

Language tags

Language tags would rely whether you’re using one language on your content or not. But if you prefer having different language on your page, it’s better to use hreflang tag to ensure the searcher would be directed to the same leading page everyone has been guided to. Aside from avoiding a penalty for duplicate content, it will also help you present the same content you wanted to show off.

Search engines are really meticulous in detecting language. Use one language to your site as much as you can especially if you don’t need other languages to optimize your page.

Structured Data Markup

Structured data, also known as schema markup, is another type of code that makes your ranking boost in SEO. It also helps search engines organize, crawl, and display your content easier. Using Structured Markup can help increase your website’s click-through rate or CTR because there is useful information about your website that makes it more relevant or click-worthy for a user.

Working with search engines using structured data helps to communicate on what your data really means. It might be one of the most technical things you can do but placing effort into this is a very wise move.

Live pages

Posting your page live would really attract random people visiting it. So make sure that put your pages live if and only if you’re ready for searchers to check your content out.

If you’re using any kind of CMS, there’s a higher chance of your published page to be added to your sitemap that will ping the search engines. But if you really have to put out a live page and you’re not yet ready to have it scanned by viewers, using a no index tag before putting it live is the best option to rely on just remember to take it off later.

Page speed

Did you know that page speed is one of the ranking factors Google has standardized? They even made it easier to go faster with their Accelerated Mobile Pages project, applicable to almost every continent on the Internet.

SEO experts prefer to lessen page load time, so if you have ways of trimming of some MB packages on your site the better. You can always use page speed tools to see how your website is performing.

Moreover, remove unnecessary code bloat, you can also do file compression to diminish the size of JavaScript files, CSS, and HTML that are larger than the standard 150 bytes. This will ensure your server speed and spot-on ranking. If you want to go in-depth with your page speed optimization, we recommend downloading Lighthouse, a Chrome extensions SEOs can use to do a quick audit on their site.

These focal points are some of the basic but the most important foundation you would need to optimize your website and boost your SEO ranking. If you made some mistakes on your site, this is your chance to have it corrected. SEO encompasses a wide variety of tactics to optimize your site to increase its search engine visibility. A little bit of technical SEO can go a long way for your website; start optimizing your website today!

Sarah McGuire is a Digital Strategist for the Best SEO Company in Canada. She takes an in-depth, hands-on approach to startup social business strategy. She has experience in digital marketing, social media, content strategy, and marketing communications.