Improving e-commerce conversions using UX research data

Published on: February 25, 2020

In 2019, the average e-commerce conversion rate is a meager 1.8% (Source: Wolfgang Digital KPI Report 2020).

Sure, it’s not like every person who goes to an e-commerce site actually intends to make a purchase anyway. Some visitors may simply be looking around, curious about the product or the company behind. Others still may be researching for more information, but ultimately planning to buy in a physical store.

But given that the average global shopping cart abandonment rate in 2019 is at 69.57%, we have to consider that a significant number of those non-converters (98.2%!) were maybe planning to purchase after all, but ended up abandoning the site for one reason or another.

A likely culprit: poor user experience

70% of customers say they have abandoned their shopping carts because of bad user experience. Alarming, but not at all surprising.

Unless you’re catering to a very specific niche or offering a legitimately one-of-a-kind product, customers won’t stick around in your e-commerce site if there’s a competitor that sells more or less the same goods, but offers a better online shopping experience.

What is user experience (UX) optimization?

UX optimization is the art of designing and developing your e-commerce website with a user-oriented mindset. It’s the best balance between aesthetics (users still want a sleek and visually appealing interface, after all) and a seamless shopping experience.

Different users come to your webshop with different intent and at different stages of the customer journey—therefore, it's important to make it easy for hesitant users to decide on a purchase, and not make it hard for decided customers to complete a checkout.

How does UX optimization help with increasing conversions?

1. UX optimization removes friction that keeps users from converting.

Friction can be found anywhere in an e-commerce site: slow loading speed that makes users exit the page before they even get a glimpse of what you offer, confusing user interface that only lead to frustration, or clunky navigation that makes it hard for visitors to get to wherever they want to go.

UX optimization is taking a long, hard look at these nuances and redesigning, restructuring, or doing whatever needs to be done to eliminate the friction and provide a smoother experience for users.

Most people who come to your site are already interested in what you have to offer, so again, it’s about not making it hard for them to complete the purchase that they’re already intending to make.

2. A good UX leaves a good brand impression.

A number of your visitors may still end up leaving your site because they're not ready to buy (and not because they had a bad user experience). When you leave a good impression through a seamless, intuitive UX, it's you that they remember when they reach the buying stage.

3. Optimized UX indirectly helps SEO, which in turn draws more customers to your site.

Poor UX makes users abandon your site, resulting to a high bounce rate that can lower your ranking in organic search results.

On the other hand, optimizing your webshop UX makes people stay and browse more pages around your webshop—lowering the bounce rate, improving your chances of ranking higher, increasing your organic traffic, and finally leading to more potential customers.

Utilizing UX research data to optimize your e-commerce site

UX optimization is an art, not an exact science, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all guesswork and gut feeling.

Actual research into user behavior is an important aspect of a good UX optimization strategy, but it can also be a time-intensive task, especially if you have to juggle it along with product development and e-commerce marketing.

Fortunately, there are companies who make it their full-time job to conduct e-commerce UX research, expose common usability issues, and gather enough data to benchmark e-commerce sites against established best practices.

At 1902 Software, we utilize the research and findings of Baymard Institute, a Denmark-based e-commerce UX research firm that conducts large-scale testing on the whole range of the e-commerce user experience—home page, product pages, mobile shopping, cart and check-out, form fields, etc.

You’d think that there’s only so much you can optimize within these aspects of a webshop, but Baymard Institute has over 700 guidelines that discuss common UX pitfalls and actionable tips on how to avoid or fix them.

Our own team of web designers and QA testers go through Baymard Institute’s E-commerce UX Professional Certification course to make sure that: 1) UX best practices are designed and built into our e-commerce projects by default; and 2) existing e-commerce sites that we take over for development and support can be reviewed, tested, and optimized in a user experience-oriented light.

Is your e-commerce site guilty of these common UX pitfalls?

Baymard Institute’s full research catalog is available to premium subscribers only, but there are plenty of publicly available articles that can lend you some ideas in optimizing your webshop.

Here’s a sample of actionable insights from Baymard Institute’s public blog:

1. In Scale images – Shopping online is tricky because it doesn’t provide the same assurance that physically inspecting a product in a store does.

An in scale image is a way for users to get some of that assurance by being able to determine a product size through other objects of known size included in product images. (Source: “The Current State of E-Commerce Product Page UX Performance (19 Common Pitfalls)” by Baymard Institute.)

2. Autorotating home page image carousels. Home page carousels are harmless on desktop sites, where there’s more space for content and mouse hover can be used as a signal for the carousel to play the next slide.

But on mobile sites, autorotating carousels can be largely distracting to users. Baymard Institute discusses some suggested implementations of mobile carousels in their blog “9 UX Requirements for Designing a User-Friendly Homepage Carousel (If You Need One)”.

3. Accidental taps on mobile devices. With the web increasingly going mobile-first, e-commerce sites that still prioritize desktop UX face the danger of falling behind. One UX aspect unique to mobile sites is handling tap behaviors.

On desktop, hover, scroll, and click are distinct behaviors; on mobile, there is only the tap behavior. A site's response to accidental taps can prove disruptive to the user experience, so Baymard Institute has three suggested strategies on how to handle accidental taps on mobile e-commerce sites: “3 Strategies for Handling Accidental ‘Taps’ on Touch Devices”.

E-commerce UX optimization at 1902 Software

UX optimization is at a top priority in every website, webshop, and mobile app we design and develop for customers.

E-commerce conversions start with a well-built webshop, but we’re well-aware that in this day and age, quality code alone is not enough for an e-commerce site to drive conversions—in the same way that a nice, modern design is not enough to get your customers to make a purchase.

Our e-commerce project managers and developers are not only well-versed in the technologies that keep your webshop running on its optimal condition; they’ve also been trained to adapt a UX and conversion-optimization mindset so that our development is intentional and always geared toward helping you achieve more conversions.

This, in addition to the knowledge and expertise of our designers and QA testers from their studies and the e-commerce UX course they're trained in Baymard Institute, and a company culture that values common sense and initiative, makes us capable e-commerce partners that help you with both the technical stuff and e-commerce strategy.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help optimize your e-commerce UX and increase webshop conversions.

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