Anybody can build an e-commerce store, right? But not everybody has a store that actually produces the highest amount of sales, lead generation, and the retention of customers as possible.
This guide provides you with actionable guidelines to increase the conversion rate and revenue of your e-commerce store. These conversion rate guidelines include;
- Product Page Best Practices
- Cart / Checkout Page Optimization Checklist
- Product Category Page Guidelines
- Homepage Design Best Practices
We hope, by the end of this ecommerce optimization checklist, you’ll be able to review your store to know what should be optimized and how to do it.
Product Page Best Practices
Optimize Product titles
It is imperative that you have descriptive titles for your products and not just bare minimum references to the items displayed for sale. The reasons for this are straightforward.
Customers often need help navigating the website they are on, and also require aid to reach the specific thing that they are looking for.
If a title is detailed and throws light on the exact nature of the product, customer retention is encouraged. It also directly increases chances of a purchase being made.
Keep in mind that your title should not be very long, as the user’s attention span cannot be assumed to be very extensive.
Amazon is a great example of suitable product titles.
This picture shows how to display the perfect amount of information about a product. It tells you the name of the brand (1), the model number (1), and the type of headphones (1) that are being sold. Finally, they mention the color of the variant (2). This is important because it encourages the viewer to click and explore whether other color variants are available as well.
On eBay, you can see good use of product title. It mentions Brand name (1), model number (1), the main feature of the device specs ‘24 MP’ (1) and the format (1) as well as the product’s condition (2).
Go with Standard Product Page Layout
You must use standard layout for product page. Usually, the illustrative pictures of the product are placed on the left side, and the other allied information about the product is listed to the right. This kind of layout is so common among e-commerce stores that it is almost intuitive for customers to access the website in such a way.
If the layout is changed, the customer will have to expend time and energy on trying to decipher the new layout and also to get familiar with it. All of this can serve as a discouraging sign for the customer and they may not opt to come back to the store for their next online purchase. Therefore, stick to this structure and do not experiment.
This product page uses the standard layout of e-commerce store product pages, and additionally does a good job of keeping the layout simple.
Pilgrim shows the requisite details of their products on the product page (1), and supplements it with an aesthetic picture (2). It also mentions the price in a different font (4), and provides a decent number of CTA buttons (3).
Optimize Main Product / Hero Image
It must be kept in mind at all times that the visual and aesthetic representation of the product is the primary selling point on e-commerce websites. Thus, the main hero image of the product should not only be accurately representative of the actual product, but must also be appealing to the eye of the customer, which can spark an interest in the product and eventually result in a sale.
The image must be:
- Clicked in good lighting
- Of professional quality
- The product must be visible in full, not half or in part
- Product must be the focal point of the image, and not the background.
EverLane is a great illustration of aesthetically pleasing hero images of their main products. It provides images that are close-up for a good look, as well as a picture with a model. This enables the user to have different perspectives of the same product.
Heap uses images that best showcase their services, and use great analytical and statistic representations to show what they have to offer. It is a good example to follow for online stores that have a niche.
Have Product Image Gallery with Thumbnails
In an extension of the visual appeal of the product, it should also be ensured that the visitor does not only view the main image and stop. There should be other images in the product gallery to further indulge the visitor and keep them interested in purchasing the product.
The pictures must be used to full effect in selling products.
Make sure that:
- The images have a uniform background and do not differ.
- They are also of the same quality as the main image.
- All angles are covered.
- Viewers can zoom in to the image or magnify it in order to ascertain specific features of the product.
The idea is to provide the visitor an opportunity to be intimate with the product and aid their decision of purchasing it subsequently.
The gallery should show thumbnails of other images. It is not sufficient to only have a main image accompanied by the availability of other images of the product.
When the visitor clicks on the product or the main image, they must be able to see snapshots or thumbnails of other product images. In other words, should know that there are other available images of the product for them to examine and make a decision.
The idea is to enhance engagement with the visitor which will, in turn, increase chances of a purchase being made by the visitor.
It is not even necessary to place thumbnails together explicitly. Some online stores use grey dots at the bottom of one image to indicate that there are other images available to browse.
However, a visual depiction of the other images is always ideal and the usage of grey dots and similar tools should be avoided for optimal results.
A variety of options makes the visitor feel more confident about their decision to purchase a particular product.
In order to further encourage engagement with the product, add actionable elements. While thumbnails and their importance cannot be understated, an equally significant component of product browsing is the presence of actionable elements, most commonly an arrow, to help users toggle between different images of the product.
Even if not initially interested, the visitor will be intrigued by the arrow and click to browse pictures out of curiosity. It is a good motivational factor for visitors to buy a product.
The only major thing to be kept in mind while adding such a cue is that the arrows must be prominent and easily spottable by the naked eye, in order to fulfil its purpose.
As can be seen, Amazon shows the customer different variants of their product (1) and also allows them the option of toggling between them at the click of a button (1). This makes the overall browsing and shopping experience extremely convenient for the user.
The product gallery must support swipe actions for Mobile devices. A lot of visitors will be browsing the store on their handheld devices, including mobile phones and tablets.
It is thus non-negotiable that the swipe functionality is supported by the store so that such users can easily see through images of the product.
If swipe is not supported, then most users will be discouraged, because physically clicking on the left or right arrow is a lot more cumbersome and degrades the overall UX.
Ideally, not just images, but even swiping through screens must be a functionality made available to the user.
Display Product Variants / Options
Different product variants must be visually represented. Given that more than one variant of one single product will be available for purchase on the online store, it is ideal to have images of all the available variants. This again enables easier decision-making on part of the visitor and increases the chances of a purchase being made.
If your product is being sold in different colours, materials or attributes, every such product must be represented in the form of an image.
For example, if a shoe is available in different sizes or colors, each distinct variant of the product must be clicked and included in the sequence of images.
Product variant selection must be integrated with the product gallery and the image of the chosen variant must be shown. When users engage with a specific variant of the product, they should be able to simultaneously see how the variant looks when they click on it.
Odds of a user making a purchase are much higher if they are shown precisely what they will be receiving. Thus, it is integral to ensure that there is integration and coordination between what is being selected and what is being displayed as the product image.
If one size is chosen, but another is displayed, the user will naturally be discouraged and remain unsure about the exact look and description of what they are purchasing. So they would start reconsidering their decision to buy the product. This can be avoided by the simple task of integration between the displayed image and selected product variant.
Use selectors, not drop-down lists, for product variants. The online shopping process should be made as easy as possible for the user. The better the UX is, the higher the chances of a successful purchase.
In this respect, it must be kept in mind that the product variants should be available as pre-selected options and not drop-down lists, because that makes the entire process unnecessarily cumbersome.
A good place to start from while determining when to and when not to use drop-down menus, the number of variants must be considered. If there are fewer than 5, don’t use drop-downs. The same goes for cases where there are more than 10.
Multiple problems are related to scrolling large drop-downs, seen here at Crate & Barrel. If the mouse cursor is outside of the drop-down, users will most likely scroll down the page instead of the drop-down, hiding the drop-down options from the screen. In some browsers, however, the drop-down will actually scroll as long as it has focus, likely leaving users with erroneous data.
On the other hand, if there’s just a handful of options for a particular input, a drop-down will similarly nearly always be a poor interface choice. This is because the space savings are small compared to the amount of friction created by not providing users with sufficient information scent — users must click the drop-down to see the 1–4 values it contains.
Therefore, drop-downs with many options, and drop-downs with only a handful, are both suboptimal interface choices. They are intimidating and hard to navigate or introduce unnecessary friction into the checkout process by hiding information that could simply have been exposed.
Haus shows us a good example of when and how to appropriately use a drop-down menu for product variants (1). The colors it offers are similar, and also five in number, meaning it is the perfect place to use a drop-down menu.
Optimize CTA Button to Drive Sales
When a user has zeroed down a product to purchase, the natural next step for them would be to add said product in their cart and then proceed to buy it. But, in order to ensure that this transition is completed smoothly, the add-to-cart button design should make it the most prominently visible element on display.
Without it, the user will hit a cul-de-sac and may not end up following through on their decision to buy the product. Therefore, the add-to-cart/ CTA / Call-to-Action button should not be relegated to the bottom or fringes of the screen, but be placed centrally instead.
Make sure to follow the CTA design best practices:
- It must color-contrast the background
- It must be a large button, making it naturally more visible
- As mentioned above, must be centrally placed
- The button should be of a different font than the rest of the page, although this is not essential.
- There must be a sizeable white space surrounding the button.
The CTA button must be crystal clear in its functionality. It almost goes without saying that the CTA button’s purpose is only served if the user knows exactly what will happen upon clicking it, which makes CTA button text extremely important in conversion.
Merely showing that there is a button without spelling out what it will lead to would defeat the purpose, since the user would not instinctively click on it. They might even completely abandon the exercise due to uncertainty about the process.
You can either have an “Add to Cart” text for multiple products or go the other way and additionally include a “Buy Now” button text as a secondary CTA element when the user only wants to buy a single product.
Such a button would directly take them to the checkout process and make the whole process much simpler and convenient.
Include relevant interaction and engagement when users hit “Add to Cart”. You must ensure that the process post clicking on “Add to Cart” is as streamlined and simple for the user as possible. They must be informed about what has happened after clicking the button, at every stage of the process.
Depending on how vast your product inventory and how diverse the products in your store are, you should decide whether to redirect the shopper to the payment step or to let them continue shopping after adding one item.
This must all be clear to the shopper throughout, because any confusion would cause unnecessary anxiety, especially for novice online shoppers. Generally, if you are a niche store with a limited number of products, you can let them directly pay for the order, and the role of a cart/ basket is minimized.
But, if you have an extensive collection of products and the shopper is interested in exploring or shopping further, they should be allowed to browse with their chosen product safely tucked away to be paid for and ordered as and when they are ready.
Remember the more seamless the process and the transition, the higher your conversion rate!
Getting a customer to do something usually understood to be risky, like Netflix seeks to do, is nicely helped by an affirmative, encouraging CTA button that says “Join Free for a Month”(1). It gives the user a sense of optimism, and is a good example to follow.
This is another great example of placing not only a good CTA button, but also information on what’s in the checkout (1)!
Show Price of Product
The price of the product must be adequately visible. As any online shopper would tell you, price can either be a deal-breaker or a deal-maker for a prospective customer.
Either way, the price of a product is the major determinant of whether the user will end up buying the product. Therefore, the price should always be displayed prominently, relative to the other elements on the page.
- A different color can be used to contrast it from the rest of the page.
- The font can be different to distinguish it from the surrounding contents of the display.
Price of the product must be placed close to the CTA button. When a user is ready to move to the next stage of the process i.e., Adding to Cart, they must be clear about the price of the product. It, therefore, makes sense to place the price element very close to, and ideally right next to, the CTA button.
The importance of this tip is even higher when considering that most users would be accessing the store on mobile or handheld devices, where the display is much smaller than that of a PC. So, the closer the price tag to the CTA button, the better it is for the UX.
Any and all additional charges should be placed next to the price element. A lot of times, as explained above, the price of products online is the major determining factor for whether the visitor is going to be purchasing the product at all.
Therefore, the last thing that any user will want after having made their decision to buy, would be to find out that there is an additional charge on top of the displayed price. This can serve as an unwelcome disincentive for the visitor, and also endangers the sale.
Thus, avoid any rude shocks and be sure to add all additional charges near the price button itself. For clarity, it should be known that such charges may include:
- Country-specific charge
- Other forms of tax
- Region-specific charge
- Delivery charges
- Service charges
However, this list is not exhaustive and the general rule should be treated as sacrosanct.
Let the user know how much they are saving by purchasing products on sale. This is a simple psychological reassurance which is mutually beneficial for you as well as the user.
They must have as much information as they can obtain to make a choice about buying their products online. It is, therefore, logical to make sure they know about any savings that will be achieved by purchasing an item currently on sale at your store.
Remember, the experience for the user has to be as simple and convenient as possible.
By displaying exactly how much they will be saving in terms of percentage as well as absolute money value, the user will save effort and hence you will eliminate any discouragement on their part.
This is closely related to the concept of positive enforcement. If the user knows exactly what is in the transaction for them, and that there is seemingly nothing they would lose, at least in relative terms, they will be much more likely to buy products from your store.
But there are efficient ways to do this. You must not only show the original as well as the reduced price but go a step further and show the difference in prices, as well as percentages and other comparative parameters, as discussed above.
On Amazon, the product’s price as well as the customer’s potential savings are displayed first (1). This encourages the user to go through with the purchase.
Display Shipping Information on Product Page
It is important to show all information related to the product, such as shipping costs, delivery time, etc. on the main product page itself. Most users want to know if the product will be delivered to them, at what cost, and what else they need to keep in mind when ordering anything off the online store.
Although this list is not all-inclusive, the page must display the following:
- The location (as detailed as possible- city, country, and even the region) of the shopper. This is imperative in order to let the user know if the product will be delivered to their location.
- Delivery charges, if any
- The estimated time in which the product will be delivered.
However, this isn’t absolute. These things should be avoided if they are not positive or favorable to your store’s reputation. That is to say, if the shipping time is painfully long, don’t mention it.
Lastly, do not place the shipping information just about anywhere. Be sure to place it near the checkout or CT element, to minimize the possibility of the user missing it inadvertently.
Here too, all possible shipping-related information is displayed for the customer to see (1). It mentions that the delivery is free of cost, and also says how long delivery would take.
Increase Conversions with Returns, Refunds and Money Back Guarantee
The user must always know that their purchase is not very risky. Most online shoppers, and shoppers in general, are risk-averse. They would be significantly discouraged from engaging in online shopping, if the purchase might turn out faulty without any guarantees or options for exchange, refund and the like.
Assuming that your store offers options such as the aforementioned in the first place, all of these reassuring tools for the customer must be displayed compulsorily on the product page, preferably in a prominent and clearly visible position.
eBay prominently mentions their personalised guarantee (1), helping the customer feel more confident about purchasing their items, leading to a better conversion rate. If your store has any restrictions on policies like these, they can also be mentioned, but are not essential as long as they are mentioned at some stage before final checkout.
All the available policies such as Replacement guarantee, warranty etc are displayed for the customer to spot very easily (1). This is a good practice to follow for all e-commerce stores to follow.
Integrate Popular Payment Options
Express payment options such as Paypal, Google Pay and other e-wallets should be mentioned in the product page. This pointer is noteworthy because it is beneficial not just for first-time users, but also regular customers of the store. Let us look at a few examples of express payment platforms and e-wallets:
- Amazon Pay
- Google Pay (for international customers, especially in the West)
- Apple Pay
Now, as for first-time users, the inclusion of such e-wallets and reputed online payment options lends a significant degree of credence to the online store, making it easier for the visitors to repose faith in the store and being able to shop without worrying about safety.
But, depending on where you are situated and running the store from, be sure not to add too many payment options, running the risk of confusing the visitor and making them second-guess their choice to use the store for a purchase. This can be avoided quite easily.
eBay allows the use of PayPal, while most successful e-commerce stores offer the option of using Google Pay.
Finally, as with most other guidelines, here too, it is ideal if the express payment option is placed as close as possible to the CTA button.
Include options for payment through instalments, wherever possible. Given that you are going to be seeing traffic from various different demographics, the prudent thing to do is to make your product affordable to as many people as possible.
The option of permitting instalments as a way to make payments has become particularly popular in recent years, and for good reason. It, of course, gives people the option to purchase luxurious and high-end products without blowing an immediate hole in their pockets.
Depending on where you are situated and the socio-economic conditions of the place, anywhere between 30-50% of your visitors can end up using the instalments option as a means to pay for high-priced items.
You can tie up with different platforms to enable an instalment, or even avail facilities offered by some banks. The bottom-line is that if you are going to be selling expensive items and want to minimize chances of your inventory remaining relatively untouched, offering instalment options might be a good place to start.
When you are selling a high-value, expensive product, showing users the option of small monthly payments (1) makes the purchase seem more affordable and attractive to them, as can be seen in this example. Right before adding to bag, the user can see that they have the option to pay monthly instalments.
Display Customer Reviews and Ratings
Customer reviews are the Holy Grail of e-commerce, and have been for as long as online stores have been around. The point to remember, though, is that any reviews you host on your platform must always be authentic, and no bots/ fake accounts should be allowed to display their reviews of any products, even if the reviews are favorable for you.
Again, it lends a considerable amount of credibility to the product as well as the seller/platform and provides confidence to the purchaser.
In fact, other than price, studies have shown that customer reviews are the biggest determining factor in whether a new visitor will end up making a purchase.
Here are a few tips in this regard:
- Always display all available information about a reviewer below the review. This can include their picture, when they purchased the product, if they are a verified buyer, and the like.
- Place reviews strategically. They are usually below the product description section.
- Place ratings (averaged out) at the very beginning of the product description, even if this means including it next to the product title.
- Individual ratings by reviewers can be placed right before the review.
- Incentivize purchasers to offer reviews. For every bad review, chances are the product will receive multiple good reviews, if the seller is reputable and the product is delivered as promised.
Depending on the niche your store falls in, remember to show reviewer information accordingly. If your store sells skincare products, relevant information about the reviewer should be displayed. Similarly, if it is an electronics store, show the information available about the reviewer’s current brand loyalty.
Place ratings collected in a prime position. After collecting reviews and ratings of the product from different purchasers, you must place the collected data, in terms of averages preferably, at the top of the page.
Ideally, it should be near the CTA button, because that way the customer cannot miss the experiences other people have had with the same product, and it dramatically increases the chances of the visitor buying the product.
The product title is also a good place near which the reviews and ratings can be placed. Most large e-commerce stores do this, and it works.
Right next to the title of the product, Etsy displays the average rating of the product (1), which makes the user more confident about its quality.
After scrolling down, you can see different purchasers reviewing the items and their credentials. This is the perfect example to follow, especially if you have a niche store.
Display Order Quantity
Use selectors for the quantity feature instead of a drop-down list. With the same reasoning as the previous guideline, the process should be made as less complicated for the user as possible. This can be done by again avoiding drop-down lists and limiting the number of actions the user has to indulge in before making a purchase.
Another reason is the inconsistency in UIs for different users. The UI of drop-downs differs from browser to browser and OS to OS, and the drop-down will not only look different but will also work differently.
For example, on a Mac, Safari and Chrome force users to hover on an arrow to scroll up and down, whereas Firefox provides a traditional scrollbar. Some sites also use custom-designed drop-down UIs, which are also frequently observed to cause issues. Here, American Eagle Outfitters offers a custom state drop-down.
Note how the length of the drop-down interface is suboptimal as it’s too short compared to the available space.
Amazon shows the order quantity on the product page itself (1). This is generally a safe way to go, and the customer gets encouraged seeing that the quantity is not above or below what they had desired all along.
Display Size Chart Guidelines
Always provide a size-chart to users when you offer a product in different sizes.
Measurements are complicated, and users do not want to be burdened with an additional task on top of the already difficult decision of whether or not to purchase the product at all. For this reason, it is imperative that the users are aided by a size chart to serve as a guide to them in the process of purchasing the size that fits them best.
At this guideline, it is important to keep in mind the primary difference between online and offline stores.
The main cause for online stores taking longer to sell clothing items as compared to other items was that it is more difficult for the users to trust that what they see on the Internet is the correct size for them since there is no way to physically check the product before purchasing it.
Therefore, it is doubly important for online stores to supplement other details about the product with a size chart to make comparisons between different units of measurement possible for the users.
More than anything else, there is also the fact that most of the store’s returns, refunds, and related post-sale complaints can be reduced by including a simple, easy-to-understand size chart. Thus, it makes sense logistically speaking as well, to incorporate this guideline’s instruction.
Show relevant units wherever information about dimensions is important (for example- length, weight, size, etc.)
If the size is a decisive factor in the sale of the product you are aiming to sell, the shoppers might want to see for themselves the dimensions of the product before finalizing their decision to buy it.
Now, depending on the geographical area the user is in, alter the units you are using to express these dimensions in order to make it easier for them to comprehend the precise size and type of product they are viewing. This will help them make a more informed decision. This is especially and particularly important in the case of items like shoes and furniture.
The goal is to avoid alienating the user for a completely avoidable reason.
Zappos provides a drop-down menu to check sizes (1), which specific sizes are available and also individual size differences between each foot, therefore catering to all sorts of feet sizes. Since it is comprehensive yet neat, it is a good example to keep in mind.
Shein displays all available sizes on the screen itself (1). They are placed together, with no need to scroll, drop-down a menu or to swipe on a handheld device. In addition, the store also provides a size guide to make sure that the customer always gets the fight fit for themselves.
Optimize Product Page Font Size, Readability and Typography
This might sound boring and basic, but it is one of the most commonly ignored aspects of building a successful e-commerce store.
The user/visitor must be able to understand what the written text means without too much difficulty. It would be a shame if the user gets discouraged from making a purchase for a reason as silly as the font being too small or another related factor.
As mentioned before, a large part of your audience will be on not just desktops/laptops, but other smaller devices such as mobile phones and tablets. So, before finalizing the store, make sure to check the font size and type of relevant details from different devices and avoid any unnecessary inconveniences to the user.
Of course, one more reason for why this is important to keep in mind is that the audience will grow, and older people and people with poor eyesight will not be able to access products if your font is too small or unreadable. Similarly, the color of the font and its contrast with the background must always be considered while deciding the final look of the page.
If the background and font are both light or are too dark, nothing will be properly visible to the user. Avoid such mistakes and you should be good to go in this department.
Relevant information about the product must always be easily readable and be simple to scan/skim through. Other than font, there are also other factors to consider.
The way you structure sentences, the kinds of words you use, the blank space between paragraphs, and similar things are all very important in determining whether the user ends up making a purchase.
Points to keep in mind:
- Make different types of information accessible under different, but relevant headers.
- Use subtitles.
- As a thumb rule, always highlight relatively important words and phrases. Write them in bold text, or underline them.
- Don’t just throw together different bits of information about the product all in one place because this can be counterproductive. The user may end up getting confused. Be sure about what detail goes where, so that the user does not get distracted unnecessarily.
- Use external indicators to pull the user’s attention to more important information.
According to Baymard,  having the right amount of characters on each line is key to the readability of your text. It shouldn’t merely be your design that dictates the width of your text, it should also be a matter of legibility.
The optimal line length for your body text is considered to be 50-60 characters per line, including spaces (“Typographie”, E. Ruder). Other sources suggest that up to 75 characters is acceptable. So what’re the downsides of violating this range?
- Too wide – if a line of text is too long the reader’s eyes will have a hard time focusing on the text. This is because the line length makes it difficult to gauge where the line starts and ends. Furthermore it can be difficult to continue onto the correct line in large blocks of text.
- Too narrow – if a line is too short the eye will have to travel back too often, breaking the reader’s rhythm. Too short lines also tend to stress readers, making them begin on the next line before finishing the current one (hence skipping potentially important words).
Amazon always displays the Free Delivery option (1), if and when it’s available, below the main product image and close to the price element, in order to catch the eye of the user. It is a successful tactic that should be incorporated by most online stores.
Use Social Proof to Sell Your Product
According to research, reviews are not the only way to boost the social credibility of your store.
- Use UGC on Your Product Pages
You’re moments away from clicking the big Buy button on a website, but
you hesitate. You aren’t quite convinced of the product’s worth yet.
You think to yourself:
I want proof that this thing works the way it says it does.
So, which would be more convincing to you – a photo of a smiling model
holding the product, or a photo of a real person using it successfully
to accomplish exactly what the product is meant for?
I think you know the answer.
According to eMarketer:
“Every day, user-generated content (UGC) is part of the online experience of millions of US Internet users. From entertainment to communications to eCommerce, consumers are taking charge of the creation, distribution, and consumption of digital content.”
- Use influencer marketing
When an eCommerce business uses influencer marketing, it means they pay someone influential online to endorse their brand.
For example, if you own an activewear shop, you might pay a popular Instagram fitness guru to post a photo of themselves wearing the clothes you sell.
By doing so, you’d expose your product to lots of your target customers. And they’d be influenced to buy that product after seeing someone they know and like wearing it.
If you or your venture have won any awards, be sure to mention them. It lends social credibility to the store.
Finally, of course, do not forget to add all these things to your page.
The above example shows how testimonials can be used as a great example of displaying social proof to the visitors on your page, which gives your online store a good reputable image in their eyes.
Here again, social proof in the form of mentioning how many units have been sold by them to other customers (1). This gives new visitors the idea that the store is a trustworthy market place and is a good lead to follow.
Highlight Benefits of the Product to Increase Conversions
Not just features, but also the benefits of the product must be provided. An elementary difference between the features and benefits of products must be paid attention to. The fact that there are features of products provided by pretty much all e-commerce stores, you must go a step further to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
Giving your visitors only a glimpse of the features only serves half the purpose. They want to know what the product can do for them, not just what its specifications are.
So if you shed light on how the said product is going to be a boon for the user, and how it’s going to make their life easier, they will be intrigued and will want to spend money on the product.
Although closely linked, these two concepts are completely different animals, and if you don’t consider user intent from the outset, even the most innovative, revolutionary products will fail to hit the mark. Although it might seem counterintuitive, consumers rarely want to buy things for the sake of buying them – they want to solve their problems.
The main objective behind such an exercise is to express the features and specifications of the product in terms that are directly comprehensible to the user and enhance their experience. They would give them a better view of why the product is going to be a good buy for them.
For example, if Amazon only advertised its Kindle devices by saying that they provide 1 GB of storage space, fewer people will buy them (most of whom would be familiar with technical terms and units of space measurement). However, Amazon makes it a point to mention that that much storage space can hold thousands of books. This opens up new areas of the market for the product.
Thus, when you put a product for sale, it is crucial to remember and reflect on this subtle distinction, which can make all the difference when it comes to sales.
The way Amazon markets its Kindle devices is a good illustration for this guideline. They tell you what benefits the device being waterproof provides, along with exactly how many books you can read and store with their available storage on all their device variants (1).
In addition, they also mention what benefit users will get through the glare-free display (1). This way, you are not only displaying but also promoting your products on the online store.
Write Product Descriptions
As with the previous pointer, the key is to attract all sorts of people to the product on your store. There are going to be huge amounts of people who will not bother to read through excessively detailed product descriptions, features, specifications and all the other mumbo-jumbo, especially when it comes to technological devices and the like.
Therefore, to cover all your bases, it is always better to have not just details of the product later on down, but also to add short and sweet, to-the-point paragraphs/ bullets displaying the key benefits of the product for the user. Being brief, crisp and to the point is essential!
Of course, since you want to attract as many people as possible, it makes sense to have more details available for whoever wants it. Therefore, do not forget to include a “Read More” or a similar button for these people. This is a logical and fool-proof method to follow. It will undoubtedly lead to better sales overall.
Dollar Shave Club makes use of pointers instead of paragraphs (1). This way, customers are encouraged to read and get all the information that they need to know about the product. Note that the pointers are very brief, but still very comprehensive. They cover all the major features of the product being sold by the store.
Shopify, again, shows a great example of keeping product descriptions to a brief minimum (1), while also conveying all information that is essential for the visitor to know.
Cross-sell and Pitch Related Products
Cross-selling and pitching related products is an effective way to increase sales that can be used by e-commerce ventures.
Cross-selling is a sales tactic to increase sales by suggesting additional, related or complementary items to a customer.
If you’re ever on a product page or about to check out and see something like “Frequently bought together” with a list of additional items for you to consider purchasing, this is a perfect example of cross-selling. You can use similar ways of adopting this highly useful tactic.
What kind of products to cross-sell?
When suggesting additional items for a customer to purchase, it’s important to suggest only relevant items, such as the following:
- Related products: These are items related to the one that a customer is already purchasing. For example, if a buyer has added a cat tree to their cart, Amazon suggests also purchasing cat toys. While the toys aren’t an additional part of the cat tree and can’t be used in conjunction with it, they’re related because a cat owner may also be interested in buying additional cat products.
- Services: Another way to cross-sell is by offering services that customers can add to their purchase. While not every business has a service to cross-sell, services are popular options for ecommerce stores that offer warranties and protection plans, such as Best Buy.
But, in order to avoid having the user spend more time window-shopping than actually shopping, try and place the suggested products somewhere below, so that it is not immediately visible but also not completely out of view. It is another sort of balancing act.
This is a good image showing “Frequently Bought Together” section (1). This way, the customer would be encouraged to view other items.
Another example would be Amazon’s use of the “Sponsored Products” section (1), through which it can pick and choose which items to promote on its own. This is a great and effective way of capitalizing on the customer’s limited attention span.
Finally, Amazon also has a more general section to nudge customers to explore other items that they might like, according to the product they are currently viewing, or based on their general browsing history.
Use Urgency and Scarcity Triggers
You must not give your customers a chance to hesitate or stall their purchase for too long. This way, you risk lowering your conversion rate.
Anytime a customer thinks “maybe later”, you open the window to a sale-killing distraction – an offer from a competitor, a phone notification, or even a change of heart.
There is one way to get shoppers to take action immediately: urgency.
How do you create urgency without being pushy or turning people off?
- Offer free delivery for a “Limited period”
Customers are still accustomed to shopping offline rather than online.
When they decide to buy an item online, they don’t want to be ‘shocked’ with an unexpected cost (such as shipping) during checkout. One way to work around this problem is to state your shipping fees upfront. This prevents “sticker shock” and helps reduce cart abandonment.
But what if you could use shipping as an urgency tactic?
Try this: offer free delivery, but only for a limited time. State this offer prominently on your site and set a very tight deadline (say, 4 hours).
- Offer free shipping for a “Limited number of buyers”
Instead of binding free shipping to time, link it to quantity.
For example, you may decide to limit free shipping on all purchases during your sale campaign to only the first 1,000 customers. This ensures that customers who want to shop do so immediately.
Using scarcity triggers is a thin line to tread, but it is effective nonetheless. Giving users a sense of scarcity, just like the above urgency trigger, makes them act quicker and gives them less time to change their mind. The opportunity cost of not doing this is just too high.
To want what you can’t have is a principle based in decades of psychological research.
Booking.com is a good example of this tactic being used really well. A simple look at any search results on their website shows that they always have “x number of rooms available, hurry!”
This is a great way to ensure that people will think they need to cash in before it’s too late for them to even consider purchasing the service or product. Therefore, is used in the appropriate way, the scarcity tactic is one of the best in the book.
Kit Out My Office uses this tactic fairly well, and most stores would do well to similarly create a sense of urgency to nudge users into buying products as quickly as possible, without allowing them too much time to think and/or change their decision (1).
Meowpick uses a good strategy of giving customers a sense of scarcity (1), so that they will know that if they do not order soon, the store will run out of stock.
Cart / Checkout Page Optimization Checklist
Always save customer’s information for their next visit
This is mostly useful for customers’ convenience. If the customer is busy doing other things, or just chooses to delay their final decision on whether to go through with the purchase for later, the shopping cart must always save their progress. This way, the customer’s efforts aren’t rendered useless and they do not have to start all over again the next time they come to your store.
It is also a good way to retain and attract customers because they have flexibility on your store to shop as and when they please. More than 70 percent of online retail shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a staggering potential loss of sales.
A persistent shopping cart keeps track of the items the shopper has left in the cart and saves that data for a length of time. Amazon, for example, saves shopping carts for logged-in customers seemingly forever unless the items become unavailable.
This is 3dcart’s saved cart display. Every online store must aim to save customers’ progress in order to make their online shopping experience more enjoyable and relatively stress-free (1).
If there are different carts being formed on different visits, they must all be saved separately/ individually.
Add all relevant information about the product in the shopping cart
It is usually a good idea to add all possible information about the product added to the cart, so long as it is reasonably relevant.
If your shopping cart is designed badly, it will lead to lower conversion rates, which is obviously not desirable.
One of the main purposes of the cart page is to allow the user to review their order before completing their purchase. In order to help them do so, a detailed summary is required to clearly display all relevant information which would help build confidence and increase conversion rates.
Some of the key pieces of information to include are;
- Product Image
- Shipping Cost
- Option to check estimated date of delivery
This is a good example of the use of informative shopping carts. It has displayed all the relevant information that is required for a customer to review their choice of product (1), either immediately after adding or after having come back to the cart after some time has passed (1).
This cart page is a bad example. It does not display enough information about the products in the cart and requires the shopper to click on the product to properly view its details (1), as well as the details of the proposed order (1). This kind of mistake should ideally be avoided.
Always display the correct picture for the selected product variant
Accuracy is vital for the customer to repose their faith in your store. So, when you are offering a product which has variants available on the store, always display the one that has chosen by the customer, in the shopping cart.
As pointed out before, this helps ease and avoid any confusion with respect to what they customer is going to be receiving.
Just try and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you click on one particular variant (say a specific colour or a size or shape), but when you visit your shopping cart, the thumbnail is showing you a different variant, you are bound to get frustrated and not want to follow through on your proposed purchase.
To avoid these situations and ensure a steady conversion rate, always display correctly corresponding product variants on the cart page.
Tilly’s cart page shows the customer exactly which colour and size has been selected by the customer from among the available product variants (1). This is particularly important for niche stores like online stores that sell clothing items, furniture etc.
Automatically alter the shopping cart when the customer changes the quantity of an item
The idea, as seen before as well, is to avoid making the online shopping experience unnecessarily complex for the shopper. They should not have to manually update their own cart every time they make a small change in quantity or texture or variant. The changes they make must always be updated in the cart page, in real-time.
It’s common to allow the user to edit the quantity of a product but ASOS goes the extra mile by also making the colour and size editable within the shopping cart page. The product image and details will also be updated to reflect any changes made to further enforce the feedback loop and prevent any confusion.
Casper is a good example of a store that allows users to automatically have their carts updated as soon as they pick a different quantity of the items that they wish to order.
Display selectors for the quantity feature
In what can be considered a continuation of the previous point, the key is to minimize unnecessary actions on part of the shopper. You must ensure that you have placed selectors in the cart page and that the cart updates automatically, because otherwise, the number of actions that the shopper has to take increases multiple times.
By inserting a selector, the shopper can change the quantity to their desired level, or manually type in the quantity they want to purchase. In addition, if the cart update is automated, the UX remains seamless and the outcome in terms of conversion rate is also going to be better.
CTA must be the prominent button on the page
The same reasoning that applied for this guideline in the section on Product Page applies here as well. Since the checkout button is going to be the most important button for the shopper, be sure to make it clearly visible and robust, even making it larger than the other buttons on the screen. This is particularly important for smaller screens found on mobile and handheld devices.
As before, points to keep in mind:
- Sufficiently large font
- Colour contrast
- Blank space around the button
- And of course, the button must be significantly big.
Here is an example of making their CTA button stand out (1). It is nearly impossible for any customer to not notice the “Checkout” button, since it has a prominently different background colour, Font type, font colour and size.
Disney Store is a mixed example for this guideline. While one of its CTA buttons (Add to Bag) is very prominent, the Checkout button is not. Avoid such half-hearted efforts, and instead make every CTA button distinctive and easily noticeable.
CTA button must explain lucidly what it is meant for
The shopper must know at all times the consequence of clicking the button. This keeps risk-averse shoppers engaged and is a cardinal rule to be followed.
The button may be:
- Proceed to checkout
- Safe checkout
- Direct checkout
A great example of this is Amazon, like in most other categories. Amazon states clearly that you will be led to the payment step once you click on checkout (1) and once your purchase is finalized.
As can be seen here, the customer knows exactly what clicking on the CTA button will do for them. If they want to view their cart after having added an item to it, they can click on the “Cart” button.
If they want to simply proceed to buy and check out, they can click the adjacent CTA button (“Proceed to Buy”). These buttons clearly and simply indicate what they are meant for, without any unnecessary complications or difficulties.
Let the shopper know about alternate payment methods, right under the CTA button
Many popular e-commerce platforms contain express payment options close to or next to the CTA button, for reasons similar to what have been explained before in this guide. Providing shoppers the option of paying through agents like PayPal, Google Pay, etc relieves and prevents any anxiety that they might have with regard to the purchase.
It attracts both experienced as well as novice users of e-wallets and express payment agents. All popular and successful online stores have such options for their shoppers. But, don’t focus all your energies on this. Make sure that these payment buttons are your secondary concern.
This is how multiple payment methods should look, displayed near or below the CTA button (1).
Visually show all payment options to your shoppers
Having visual aids showing the customer what payment options are available to them (in the form of pictures, ideally) will encourage the shoppers to end their purchasing process and go through with it.
It also serves as good brand recognition, since most people tend to associate popular payment brands with their icons and symbols. Therefore, show the icons of your most frequently used payment options to help the shoppers identify them more easily and make their shopping experience more convenient.
Of course, just like other images and texts, ensure that these are prominent enough to avoid any customers missing the icons.
Also ensure that you use the icons in the same colour as they are known to the shoppers. Don’t use greyscale or black-and-white option. Those will simply defeat the purpose.
Adidas shows all available payment methods to the customer very well (1), and very prominently.
Tell shoppers they can use installments to pay, and explain to them the specifics
Make sure your users know that they can pay through installments, and that they can also inform themselves about the exact amounts of each installment.
So, a good tactic to employ at the checkout stage is to show the shopper the amount in terms of instalment, instead of showing them the total amount, which might seem a little above their budget to them, and will risk them forfeiting the purchase altogether.
Avoid this by using the psychological tactic above. Place the amount button near the CTA button.
Leesa places the installment option button right below the checkout button (1).
Place your subtotal price near the CTA button
Always remember to position your product’s sub-total close to the checkout button. It’s not due to anything else but the fact that that is the most common method followed by online stores and a majority of your visitors would be used to it being that way. So, being a creature of habit, they will welcome your decision to place the price there.
Of course, there is also the fact that they would want to confirm the price one final time to make sure there are no unexpected additional charges, before checking out and finalizing the order.
All charges, and prominently the final total, are displayed by Amazon near the checkout button, to make sure there is no confusion regarding the amount to be paid. Clarity always pays off for all stakeholders!
Amazon’s cart page clearly shows the subtotal right above the CTA button.
Include delivery charges in the Cart / checkout page
Do not ever overlook the importance of displaying all additional charges on the product, the most common being delivery charges. Most users tend to look for such and other charges before even deciding to buy the product.
It is estimated that about 43% of online stores continue not to display shipping costs on the cart page, which is detrimental to their business and conversion rate.
Shoppers strongly dislike unexpected cost increases during the course of their transactions. The surprise of added fees or unexpectedly high delivery rates at the end of the checkout process was often unpleasant enough that users would leave a site altogether. Such additions made users think the site was trying to trick them and derailed purchases.
The key is to make sure that the most favourable option is available to the shopper. So, if you have free delivery, mention it. So too, if you charge for shipping, make sure to display the cheapest possible option.
It is also generally a good idea to remind the customer about the estimated delivery time on the cart page.
Daraz is a good example of delivery charges being displayed for the customer’s benefit on the cart page itself (1). Here, the customer now knows exactly what amount of money they will have to pay, without any surprise additions after making their decision to purchase. This allows customer retention.
Nudge your customers to shop more, so that they can avail free shipping
Using a proven psychological tactic, offer your customers the opportunity to avail discounts on or complete waivers of shipping charges once they add a certain number of items to their cart. This encourages them to shop more, which is obviously better for you, and also ensures a steadily good conversation rate.
In addition, the amount you’ll earn from each order will also increase, which is great for business.
Points to keep in mind are:
- Show how much the customer needs to add in order to avail it.
- Promote your offers on other pages as well.
- As soon as the customer crosses the threshold, make sure to let them know. It reinforces the idea you are promoting, and is a generally a good idea.
- Ensure that the promotions and notifications are prominent enough to catch the user’s eye.
This is a great example of the usage of such a guideline. It invites the customer to add just one or two more products in order to avail some discounts and/or free delivery (1). If this happens for more customers, then the conversion rate as well as total sales would be greatly benefitted.
Let the customers know about any and all refunds, discounts, offers etc.
As discussed before, the customers are usually going to be very risk-averse. What that means is that you need to calm their fears by employing as many tactics as possible. The most common tools used to reduce risk for the shopper are refunds, discounts, and money-back guarantees. Sometimes, stores go a bit further and offer free replacement guarantees.
Understand that this guideline is particularly useful when clothes are the items being sold. Clothing items are most prone to mismatched orders and other mishaps. So, quite reasonably, customers often find themselves being doubtful about placing online orders for them. Therefore, it is important to let them know very openly that their purchases will not be risky.
Of course, don’t make this so prominent that customers get distracted, but make sure to have them know. Colour contrast it and offer some degree of explanation regarding your policies, ideally with a “Read More” button.
Shein is a good example of in-app, same page displays of such policies and guarantees.
LuxyHair does well to point out that they have a solid return and exchange policy in place (1), which in turn makes the customer feel more secure about their purchase.
Show discount field by default
Coupons and other discounts should be easy to apply and shopping carts should clearly display how the total was affected by the promotion. Allow users to interact with discount advertisements to have them automatically applied to their cart.
Several users in different studies clicked on banners for discounts, attempting to apply the code to their orders (often unsuccessfully). For example, the shopping cart on Famous Footwear showed a promotional banner that looked like a button. Several users attempted to click it, unsuccessfully.
Adding discounts in this convoluted way takes longer and can result in an incomplete or lost sale if users decide to spend their valued time elsewhere. Instead of sending users on a quest to find, memorize, and apply coupon codes, apply the codes and discounts for them, and ensure that the process remains smooth and convenient.
Famous Footwear has a nicely visible “Add Promo Code” button (1) right next to the “Proceed to Checkout” button, meaning that the offers are within reach of the customer. This is a great lead to follow for all e-commerce stores.
Utilise urgency triggers
As explained before as well, urgency creates a sense of “FOMO” among the shoppers, making them decide whether they want to purchase an item a lot quicker and helping conversion rate in the process.
- Set a deadline for all your discounts
Amazon uses a real-time countdown below their deals to create a sense of urgency for each one of them.
- Run daily deals
- Create custom offers based on customer actions
This is where user data comes in. Cater to their specific tastes and preferences by showing them tempting offers which are times and have tight deadlines. This way, you almost eliminate any opportunity cost that would have otherwise been associated with hesitation and procrastination on part of the shopper.
Here, Lakeside Collection mentions that their offer (available through promo code) is only going to be valid for a limited period of time. Not taking any chances, the customer will, more often than not, end up purchasing the item that they are even mildly interested in.
Here, The Next Web uses “Last Call” to illustrate their point that their offer is only existing for a limited period of time (1). This way, customers will definitely browse for longer but at the same time, buy more and increase your store’s conversion rate.
Use scarcity triggers
Scarcity doesn’t always have to necessarily be artificially created in order to be successful, but there is no doubt that the more it is emphasised, the more effective it will end up being.
There is a human tendency to want stuff that is harder to get. If you’ve ever heard of the “beer goggle effect” (the theory that “all the girls get prettier at closing time”), you may be surprised to know that Australian scientists actually studied this and found that the effect has nothing to do with alcohol at all… it is actually the scarcity principle at work.
Another study conducted by Stephen Worchel offered subject two nearly identical jars of cookies. The only difference was that one jar had ten cookies, while the other jar only had two cookies. It showed that participants actually yearned for the jar with two cookies.
It is but natural for human beings to desire things that are more difficult to obtain, even if they aren’t inherently superior. Therefore, make full use of this tactic and be sure to let your creativity fly high!
MindZai provides a great example of efficient use of Scarcity triggers. By pointing out that there are only a few units of the product left (1), the user is encouraged to make the decision to buy the product, and they well also end up buying it quickly, with no time to change their mind.
Here, Brothers Leather Supply also points out to the user that the product is a Limited Edition one and that only a few of its units are remaining for purchase (1). This is an illustration of how to add good triggers.
Use cross-sell and up-sell sections wisely
Upselling is a strategy to sell a superior, more expensive version of a product that the customer already owns (or is buying). A superior version is: a higher, better model of the product or same product with value-add features that raises the perceived value of the offering.
Cross-selling is a strategy to sell related products to the one a customer already owns (or is buying). Such products generally belong to different product categories, but will be complementary in nature.
- Ensure that the suggested products are sufficiently relevant and related to the product on display.
Do not be too “in your face”, because otherwise, you risk annoying a shopper and losing their business.
Gilt City uses their posts to show that if a customer does a particular amount of shopping with them, they can avail discounts on another service (1). This is a good way to ensure interest in your products an brand is preserved.
Add a “Continue Shopping” button to your Cart page
This is particularly important for you if you are running a store with diverse sets of products, and where you have complementary products.
Of course, this is not an essential function, strictly secondary. So like the previous guideline, do not shove the button in the shoppers’ faces. Let them find it if they see it, and that should be enough.
This is a good example from Hauser Store. The button must be near or immediately below the Checkout button (1).
Show contact information for customer support
Often times, shoppers have pertinent questions, which are do-or-die for the purposes of rhe sale. Here, it is always appreciated by the shopper to be able to interact with someone authorised in order to clear doubts, inhibitions or even general questions.
It adds significant value to the overall customer experience, and you must have different kinds of customer care/ support available and accessible to the users.
- Give them your phone number
- Email ID
- Live chat ID
- Postal address
Other than this, if you have additional contact details available to provide, you can exercise your own discretion.
This is a great example of being on call for your customers (1), as seen on the Leesa cart page.
Show the shoppers taxes being levied
If you are charging taxes on your products (which will be the case very often), consider showing those throughout the process, and the cart page is no exception.
Customers want to see the same total amount, without any significant changes at the final checkout stage (except of course delivery charges), so try and avoid disrupting the user experience at all costs.
Take their postal code into consideration and show them the estimated, if not exact, amount of tax that they will be charged.
At the very least, let the shopper know that their taxes will be added at some stage, so that the final total does not come as a rude shock to them.
Here, Apple’s cart page not only shows the user how much tax they have to pay, but also displays the total amount to be paid for the product (1). This is easy and clean. It should be seen as a great example.
Have a clean, clutter-free page design
The more useless details you add to your cart page, the more turning off it will be for the UX.
It is a recognised fact that if you have information being thrown at you from all angles, you will have a harder time concentrating on one thing and will instead defer the decision or just go a different way.
To avoid this, keep the following things in mind:
- Make the checkout button most easily visible
- Don’t make the background very bright
- Don’t use too many random or flashy font types and sizes
- Prices and totals should be easily visible, but not the biggest elements on screen.
This is a good example taken from Amazon, of a relatively clean and easy to navigate cart page. There aren’t too many elements or distractions for the customer.
Product Category Page Guidelines
Keep in Mind Best Practices to Name Your Category
Have clear category names. Don’t engage your shoppers in cognitive exercises that demand a large portion of their attention spans. This is discouraging, because online shopping is supposed to be stress-free and an easier alternative to traditional shopping.
Therefore, devise discernible category names that are simple to comprehend.
- Don’t make the titles/ categories too long
- Don’t use difficult words
- Lastly, restrict yourself majorly to nouns.
Over the last five to 10 years, significant research on category labels has shown the opposite to be true. This research finds that a company’s labeling strategy can have important performance implications for products in nascent markets.
Design your Product Category Page With UX in Mind
Use relevant product category designs. This is a page, particularly, that requires consideration before it is actually reached – primarily in the way the content is split and then represented in the site’s navigational design.
When creating the structure for your main and subcategories consider the following:
- Your most important and broadest categories should form the primary headings of your menu- those that will be visible at all times as your customer navigates your website. However, it is worth noting that while it may feel at odds with the other categories you have created, if you have a product that outsells everything else on your site then consider allocating some of this prime navigation space to it.
Levi’s have a broad range of items but also recognize that 501 and 511 jeans are their iconic pieces and so give these prominence in their navigation.
Importantly, if you are selling mainly visually appealing products, it’s a good idea to stick to a grid view. But if you are selling things that require deeper scrutiny and features to be examined, then the list view is the way to go.
Effectively Use Product Images on Category Pages
Maintain a consistent style of images for your products. According to Grib, truly successful brands prioritize consistency in their visuals. The Nielson Norman group also supports this statement by saying that consistency is the most vital part of any online shopping experience for a consumer.
Since the images on your website represent your brand, constructing a certain identity, it is crucial that the company invests in its product photography. Professional pictures can drive the entire business game, enabling you to achieve the desired results. In addition, brand consistency can increase your sales.
LucidPress states that the average revenue increases by 23% when brands present consistency.
Harvard Business Review states that 64% of buyers cited shared values as their primary reason for purchasing products from a specific brand. Moreover, your brand needs to establish visual consistency from the very beginning, since starting with a theme you’re unhappy with can lead to a number of issues later on.
Use the same photography style, use similar angels, and don’t experiment too much with the colour contrast and the background of the photos.
When it comes to Product Image Sizes, maintain consistency. When using grid view, be sure to keep the size of your images consistent. Avoid deviation, because it loses aesthetic value, and the page looks unruly.
Research has time and again shown that revenue increases when images remain roughly the same size.
The logic is naturally tied to the fact that the shoppers do not want to expend too much brain power and try to decipher why certain images are bigger than others.
It is obvious that people will feel more comfortable with a consistent pattern of things, and pictures are no exception to this.
Display Complete Product Information
Have similar, and preferably the same, structure regarding information of products. Broadly, the products must have the same heads under which information about them is provided. This way again, patterns are maintained, making it much easier for the user to absorb the information that’s available to them.
Ensure that there is enough space between the different heads of information to keep everything readable and comprehensible.
As with most others, this guideline is important because a lower cognitive load for the shopper leads to better conversion rate for you.
Generally, the heads can be- price, type, name/ title, reviews and other simple-to-understand things.
Show Available Products
Show the number of available products in a category. Of course, it is quite unrealistic to expect one single product page to contain information about how many products are available that are similar to it, but the category page can no doubt display the number of available products.
This gives the user an idea of how much is at stake for them and can help them decide how much they want to buy the product from you.
And of course, the scarcity principle applies here as well.
Conversely, if there are plenty of products available in the category, it reflects very well on your stock and inventory and forms a great impression on the user’s mind, which is better for your store in the long run.
It also will provide them a large number of choices to pick from.
As you can see here, Amazon mentions exactly how many search results it has available with it (1). This allows the user to get a fair idea of the range of products on offer for them to purchase at a particular point of time.
Design Product Search Filters and Sorting UX
Build filters for product search on category pages.
The search results page is at the heart of whether a user clicks or leaves. And with a good site search engine, you can (and should) customize it a great deal, depending on what your target audience is looking for.
For example, as women’s clothing and accessories retailer Caché shows with its site search, you can type in broad phrases like “blue” and get a range of products, which you then can sort by the article of clothing, size, popularity/price, and other features. Shoppers also can refine items based on whether they’re on sale or they’re new arrivals.
People expect their product searches to return filterable options, so allowing them to sort by size/color/style is no longer enough. Look for ways to raise the bar by allowing shoppers to optionally include (or exclude) sale/clearance items, new items, and other popular categories.
Just keep in mind that this guideline is most relevant for those stores that offer multiple different types of products. If you are already operating on a limited scale, you can ignore this.
Only show relevant filters in search categories. You must curate a specific filter based on the category of product you are showing. If a certain filter is irrelevant, it will serve no purpose and will reflect poorly on your store. The shopper will get confused as well.
Thus, it is important to stick to only relevant filters for your products. For example, showing filters relevant for clothing items such as size and length won’t be relevant at all for an electronic item.
Hence, put in the effort for devising filters for each category of products that you are going to sell.
Place the most used filter at the top of all filters. Obviously, when people start using your store and the filter feature, some patterns will emerge and certain filters will be used more frequently than others. Based on this data, you must start placing the most used filter above others, since it will be clicked on more and will result in more sales on your store.
It is also in the shopper’s interest, because the shopper will find it very easy to navigate their way around your store, and of course, they will be able to spot what they are looking for, along with other similar items for a hands-on comparison.
Use Google Analytics, Hotjar or CrazyEgg to track this activity on your store, and make changes and modifications accordingly.
Make the filter section fairly prominent. Just like the case is with other important elements and features, the filter section must be placed visibly and should be quite prominent, relative to other features on the page.
This is noteworthy especially for those stores which are selling a diverse range of products, because shoppers will, more often that not, resort to using filters to make their own experience easier.
Multiple studies have shown that, particularly on PCs, the filters are placed on the left side. So, try and stick to this given that shoppers will be used to this placement.
Also, place the filters button above and away from other less important buttons on the categories page. It should be the first thing users see.
Allow users to select multiple filters at once. If this is not, it becomes very disabling for a user. A shopper should not have to prioritise and choose between filters to determine which one they value most, and which one will guide their search.
Forcing people to do this will only lead to them feeling alienated, and you might easily end up losing a potential customer to a rival store.
Fortunately, this is easily avoidable, by simply permitting users to select more than one filter. This will bring them to exactly the kinds of products they are looking for, thereby dramatically increasing their chances of making a purchase.
Usually, customers will look for things like “colour”, “size” and “price”. Price should ideally always be placed at the top of the hierarchy.
Use relevant design for the filters section. If you have a lot of filters to offer, then you must place it towards the left of the screen.
Of, conversely, you only have a handful of filters to offer, it is much safer to display them horizontally.
IKEA uses a unified horizontal filtering and sorting bar. During testing, this proved very effective, and the subjects who wanted to alter the product list instantly spotted the tool as they scrolled up page – and more importantly, they didn’t mistake the sorting tool for the site’s filtering options.
However, as general advice, as pointed out before as well, since users have mostly grown accustomed to filters on the left, you should keep it that way.
Always auto-update products displayed when a filter is selected. Make sure that the user doesn’t have to indulge in too many unnecessary actions. As soon as they click on a filter to select/ de-select it, the products displayed must accordingly and instantly.
This make for a much more seamless experience for the shopper, and lead to a better conversion rate because they will get what they are looking for much more easily and conveniently.
Also, expecting each user to click on “Apply” is a bit much, and very alienating for those who are technological novices, such as older people.
Use different selectors for different filters. While some stores definitely like to stick to the same selector, you should try and diversify.
- Allow a slider, or a box to manually enter the amount, if the filter is price.
- For colour filter, show the shopper gradients and colour swatches. Some stores even use rainbow structures.
- If your filter is review-based, always highlight star-rating before anything else.
But of course, if you have only a basic filter to offer, check/ ticking options can work just as well.
Shein’s filters are very well planned and executed (1). As can be seen, the website has different selectors for each filter. This serves as a good tool for the customers to sort through them and figure out exactly what they are looking for.
Zappos too is a good example of well-thought-out and well-displayed filters (1).
Build sorting to enhance User Experience on category pages. Some users like to buy products based on price, others prioritise trends, and yet others are more anxious and need to read reviews before clicking the CTA button.
So, it is usually a good idea to allow the customers to sort items according to certain acceptable parameters.
But, keep these fairly limited. Do not add useless or unnecessary features for sorting. This might end up confusing the shoppers.
Show the sorting feature on the top-right corner. Research has consistently shown that most users prefer seeing the sorting feature at the top right corner of the page. This is in part because of the fact that the users have become habituated to a certain type of design when it comes to pages on e-commerce stores, and any deviation, unless proved necessary/ beneficial for business, should be avoided.
Don’t get creative just for the sake of it. Its cons here massively outweigh the pros.
Here too, Zappos does well to place their “Sort By” feature at the top right corner of their page (1). This is in line with the guideline, since most people are used to viewing the feature in the top right on most online stores.
Etsy does a similar thing, and places the Sorting feature at the top right corner of their page, along with providing a drop-down menu (1).
Checklist on How to Display Products on Category Pages
Show prominent product titles. Research has again shown that the product titles are most decisive as far as customer attention and hits are concerned. Therefore, keep the title relevant and catchy, yet fairly descriptive as well:
- Keep them succinct, but do not ignore important details.
- Colour contrast, and bigger, attractive font type.
Know who your target audience is and to whom your product is going to set. Once you are aware of that, you can start creating titles based on what your audience will like and be attracted to. Understanding your buyer personas can help you describe your product better, as you may now be apprised of what they will be looking for.
H&M has great product titles that interest the shoppers.
Show important product information in or near the title. If a user is interested in buying a spec-driven or technical product, it is best practice to show them this information without needing them to constantly switch between different lines, paragraphs or pages.
This will help them arrive at a quicker decision, which they can then stick to.
How to determine what information is important to shoppers? Again, take the help of heat maps and analytical tools, because the cost of showing them unnecessary or useless information is too high. They can easily get discouraged and go elsewhere, especially if the product is popular and currently in demand.
Do not neglect product price. The customer should not have to click on each product to know its price. This would render their exercises on the category page almost completely useless. So, in order to ensure they can compare and contrast different products easily, list their respective prices in the category page itself.
Besides, most stores do this already, so even if you don’t agree with the logic or the principle, you will risk losing business because they can easily go to another store and buy the same type of product.
ALWAYS show the cheapest price if you have differently priced variants of the same product. This is particularly important for electronic items.
Let shoppers know how much they are saving. If you are offering a discount, or if your products are verifiably cheaper than they are on other platforms, please capitalise on this by mentioning it on the category page itself. This will ensure that the shoppers at least click on your product to know more about it, which naturally increases your chances of making a successful sale. Whatever helps conversion rate must always be promoted!
Points to note here are:
- Don’t let customers do any leg-work.
- Show them the difference in absolute numerical terms.
- If possible, supplement this by showing how much they would be saving by buying the discounted product in terms of percentage and proportions. This has a great psychological effect.
Always show product ratings. As with most other guidelines right before this one, the important information on which shoppers base their decision of whether or not to buy a particular product must always be made available to them as soon as possible.
So, do not wait for them to click and reach the product before showing them the ratings (star-ratings, that is) of a product.
That way, you get a better conversion rate as well, because your most prominent products would obviously be the best-rated ones, meaning you’ll sell more of them.
If on the other hand you do not show ratings and do not sort them accordingly, you risk customers clicking on random products which are inferior in quality and which will not lead to sales. Make sure to:
- Show the number of reviews and ratings. It adds more credence and substance to the product.
- Use a different font and color contrast it with the background.
Let the users know about different product variants. If you are offering multiple product variants, make sure to show this information on the category page.
This is especially important for clothing items and others where variants are crucial for a sale.
If the user gets the idea that you only have one variant available, they will obviously go a different way and not explore the possibility of buying from your store. So, show at least the number of available variants and the kinds.
Add badges to product titles. The experience of scrolling through so many different products in a category can be quite overwhelming for the shopper. It is a good idea to add badges such “Best Seller”, “Current Favourite, “(Insert store name) certified” and things such as these.
It will allow you to boost selected products that you think will result in better sales, and of course, vastly improve the user experience for most shoppers.
It has been proven through research that whenever a certain item or service gets formal certification, it instils a certain degree of confidence in the user which helps them make a decision to purchase it. It lends an amount of credibility and legitimacy to your products.
- Choose the products smartly.
- Make the badge attractive and get creative.
- Do not overuse badges, because this can make them lose their value and harm UX.
Amazon is the best and most well-known proponent of this technique.
Etsy does a great job in incorporating all these guidelines. It makes use of “Bestseller” badges (1), shows exactly how much the customer will save if they buy a product (1), and most importantly, displays the average rating of the product as well as the total number of people who rated it (1). The pictures are also well taken and placed.
Best Buy is also a good example of an online store that follows the above guidelines. It is proven to be good for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Category Page Design UX Best Practices
Show the correct number of products per row. This depends majorly on the type of product you are showing. If the product details in the category section need to show more details, then it follows that you should limit the number of products per row. This is generally true for electronic items.
If the goods don’t need to specify too many details, then number of products per row can be higher than otherwise.
Adjust the size of each image accordingly. If the size is unnecessarily large, then it will limit the number of images per row for no good reason.
If you are selling cosmetic products, then also you should feel free to increase the number of images per row.
Show additional product images on mouse hover. This is only relevant for desktop users. When your shopper brings their cursor to the image, more images should be visible to them. The more visual representation they see, the better it is for your conversion rate.
- Use different angles or the “other side”.
- Show zoomed-in angles for in-depth views.
- You can also consider showing different variants of the product in these images.
Always show additional product details that are relevant for your target audience. Feel free to give your shoppers more details related to your product, especially for your target audience. Take a call and try to understand what the user will need to make a decision on their own, and show details accordingly.
However, make sure that you do not give in to the temptation of showing them too many details, which can then become counter-productive.
Use bullet points and be extremely to-the-point. Otherwise, you risk alienating the shopper.
Show trending or best-selling items on top of the category page, by default. Shoppers might drown in the vast ocean of content that is available on your store. To help simplify the process and the experience for them, you should make it a point to show the best-selling items right at the top of the category page, because this will immediately catch the eye of the users.
You can actually get a little cheeky and place those products at the top that you want to sell quickly, or which you know will provide you the biggest profit margins.
Amazon is a seasoned player in this regard. It not only uses “Best Seller” badges for its products, but also places them at the top of the page to help guide the decision-making of the shoppers.
Show top-rated products at the top of the category page. Much like the previous pointer, it is also helpful to place the best-rated products of yours on the top of the category page. This will, again, instil confidence in the user and will help you increase your sales.
It lends legitimacy to your products and is a useful tool to use.
Highlight special offers and discounts. If you are currently offering any special offers or discounts on a product, it is not going to pay as many dividends for you as it can if you don’t communicate this fact to your customers.
The most efficient and effective way to do this is to surround your product title with a badge, but you can also mention the fact in product details, so long as the offers are prominent enough to not get overlooked.
Decathlon’s website does a competent job of highlighting their sale badges that they place on or around the product images.
Use scarcity and urgency triggers. You can artificially spawn more demand for your products by creating an atmosphere of missing out. That is to say, if the user does not act fast on their desire to purchase the product, it will run out either due to scarcity or due an offer being limited by time.
Amazon not only mentions these triggers, but also uses a ticking clock as well as a countdown to represent how time is passing, and how that could lead to the customer missing out on a great deal.
Include special category pages. In order to further entice your visitors, a good strategy to use is one which involves special categories. These include “Best Sellers”, “New”, “Discounted Products” etc.
You can get creative and come up with your own categories and names.
This way, your category page will display only those products that the shopper values, and your conversion rate would stand to increase.
Bestseller pages will instill confidence, while pages containing only discounted products would make the shopper feel more at ease about their purchase because they would have saved money.
Mavi promotes their “Sale” category decently well.
Include a page description section at the bottom of the page. Do not forget to add a very small section at the bottom which describes what the category entails, and the kind of products it includes under its umbrella. Make sure that this isn’t very prominent so that the users do not get distracted, but at the same time, your SEO position is benefitted.
Do this for each category:
As you can see, Best Buy offers different category pages classified as “Top Deals” (1), “Deal of the Day” (2) etc. This serves also to promote certain handpicked products and contribute to your store’s conversion rate.
Once you click on a special category such as “Deal of the Day’, all the relevant product details are displayed for the user. In addition, a Scarcity and Urgency Trigger (1) is also used to push the visitor into making a decision quickly, and ensures a better Conversion Rate. The visitor has fewer chances of not following through with the purchase.
Tattly also offers a separate “Best Sellers” product category (1), which caters to those who want to browse and purchase the highest valued (2) and fastest selling products (3). It stands as a good reminder of quality of these products, which naturally leads to a higher conversion rate.
Homepage Design Best Practices
Homepage should be visually simple, not overloaded
The idea is to keep the shoppers’ cognitive load to a minimum. The more complex and loaded a homepage design is, even if only aesthetically, the more effort it will demand of the visitor in trying to go about their online shopping experience.
Bombard your visitors and they will bounce without making a purchase.
Eighty-four point six percent of people believe crowded web design is the most common mistake that those in their industry make.
It’s best to keep your homepage simple.
Tinker has a simple homepage.
Place the most important elements at the top of the homepage
This might seem like a foregone conclusion, but a lot of online store neglect to place their most important parts at the most important section of the homepage- the top.
If you have a pan-website offer, mention it. If you have a sale going on, mention it. If you have best-sellers that you want to sell even quicker or profit off of, mention them.
The idea is to catch the attention of the visitor as soon as you can.
Follow visual hierarchy on the homepage
Striking the right balance when it comes to visual hierarchy is very important, because it makes your homepage easier to navigate for the shoppers, and also guides them to where they need to go.
If there is something specific that you want attention drawn to, make sure to colour contrast them, and make them bigger than other, surrounding elements.
Show a unique value proposition at the top of your homepage
A value proposition is the value you promise to deliver to your customers’ post-purchase. It’s ultimately what makes your product attractive to your ideal customer. A compelling value proposition meets three criteria:
- It’s specific: What are the specific benefits your target customer will receive?
- It’s pain-focused: How will your product fix the customer’s problem or improve her life?
- It’s exclusive: How is it both desirable and exclusive? How well does it highlight your competitive advantage and set you apart from competitors?
Display this proposition prominently. It is vital to communicate this messaging of yours properly in order to attract more customers and retain existing ones.
One prominent CTA button at the top of your homepage
You must place one CTA button visibly and prominently towards the top part of the homepage of your store. It should be colour-contrasted, be bigger than surrounding elements, and use a good, attractive font.
This serves as the gateway to the further depths of your store, and needs to be a good call-to-action, true to its name.
SalesForce has a great homepage that utilises its given space by displaying prominent and useful CTA buttons, at the top (1) and the bottom (2) – both times catching the eye of the visitor.
Use a relevant version of CTA button
Refrain from using general types of CTA buttons such as “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart”. These will make the shopper feel unnecessarily burdened and pressured into doing something of value on your store. It is also, obviously, quite annoying to be told to purchase something even though your experience of the store has virtually just commenced.
So, adjust accordingly and use other CTA buttons like “Start Shopping”, or “Learn More”. But do not neglect to add CTA buttons altogether. That would defeat the purpose.
Prominent navigation buttons to guide users to the next stage
Your users must be able to smoothly transition and navigate their way through your store, starting from the homepage. For this purpose, it would be vital to provide them with relevant navigation buttons that will take them forward.
They must be prominent, and must seamlessly take users to the next step in the process.
Keep it at the top, include links if and when required, colour-contrast, and make sure these buttons are not overloaded or faulty.
Best products and categories must always feature towards the top of your homepage
As has been noted before, users tend to get confused and overwhelmed when they see too many products on display, especially when these products do not share much of a common theme.
To resolve this, you should place the best products (either based on ratings or based on your own discretion if you’re a smaller store) towards the top so as to help the users get to the more relevant and better products first.
Feel free to use trends on your own store to judge which products are best-selling, highest-rated or most popularly browsed and place them at the top. You can also push newer arrivals or sponsored products first.
Amazon and Flipkart both do these things regularly. This helps cement your reputation as a store, and of course, adds to the user experience.
Etsy displays its most popular and its bestselling products near the top of its homepage (1), so it is almost impossible to miss them.
Highlight deals and special offers
Another sure-shot way of ensuring visitor flow, as well as customer retention, is to not only offer deals and special offers, but also highlight them properly.
It is pivotal to bring such offers to the eye of the visitors, so that they can avail them and increase your conversion rate.
Employ CTA buttons freely, and also consider having a section dedicated to the deals and special offers that are subsisting. This way, more customers will be lured and more sales will go through.
Your deal must all be very prominently displayed, but not shamelessly promoted either. Tread lightly and make the visitor interested enough to feel invested in the product by virtue of the offer.
Offers like these generally tend to increase the overall value of the product (monetary and non-monetary).
Show recently viewed items to returning users
This is a tactic used by most e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon. If your visitor is logged in and has previously browsed products on your store, remind them to the user. It serves as a good refreshment to their memory which can encourage them to buy the product (or a related one) instead of simply viewing it this time. It also serves to give a personal touch to the homepage.
However, this is only worth it if you are at an advanced stage of business and have a large enough customer base to have a sizeable number of returning users.
Add a section highlighting the benefits of shopping with you
In what can be considered a good act of self-promotion, you should venture into some de-facto self-praise and explicitly mention what exclusive and attractive things you offer to customers.
If you have a good return/refund policy, mention it. If you have large discounts or savings, mention this. It instills confidence in the customer.
Consider adding a separate section, albeit a small one, in your homepage bringing these features to the limelight.
Add high-quality images
Invest in a professional setup, and click and add good quality product images to your homepage, especially when displaying products that are best-sellers or are otherwise being promoted.
If you put up poor quality images, you risk being seen as an online thrift shop, or maybe some sort of EBay ripoff.
Remember, first impressions last! Good pictures will attract and entice visitors, and they will then consider exploring your store further.
Show social proof
If you have some respectable amount of social proof to your store’s name, flaunt it! Not boasting about it would not be humility, but actually a really bad business move.
People, while visiting a new online store, are always looking for signs that lend the store some degree of legitimacy or credence. If you have a glowing review from someone important, or have won any big awards, mention these. It gives people more confidence to place a bet on you and purchase items from you.
Even large e-commerce stores continue to show social proof like this on their homepages, so, of course, its importance cannot be understated.
Showcase different product categories
Don’t limit the product line-up on the homepage to just a few products that you deem aesthetically pleasing. This is because even if you have plenty more to offer inside, a first-time visitor would neither know this, nor care too much about it, unless you let them know that you have multiple products available under many different categories.
Be sure to showcase snippets of these categories (some of them, if not all- but choose wisely). This way, the visitors know you have a good collection to offer, and they will then oblige and use CTA buttons to navigate further.
Use product images to showcase product categories
Images are the best advertisement for any product, and also product categories.
Think about it yourself: would you prefer names of categories being plainly written down in list form for you, or would you instead want to see different images of these categories to form an idea of how vast a store’s collection is?
For sure the answer would be the latter. Therefore, use images of prime products of each category to represent these categories, and this should help in luring more visitors to explore these categories in order to find what they are looking for.
Have a prominent search bar
This is particularly important if you have a store with a diverse range of products. Simply showing visitors categories of products is not enough. You must also offer them a search bar, so that try and find exactly what they are looking for, or possibly something closely related to it.
This promises to vastly simplify the search process for shoppers, and it has been proven time and again that search functionalities contribute greatly to a superior conversion rate for online stores. Customers who search for products get to these products a lot quicker than those who do not.
Your homepage must look good on mobile displays
As has been noted before, you have to account for the fact that a large part of your user-base will use you store through mobile and handheld devices. Therefore, you must ensure that you store’s homepage looks good not only on desktops and PCs, but also on all other devices. Since homepages provide a lasting impression of online stores to visitors, it is vital that this guideline be followed.
Test your homepage on as many devices as you can before launching.
You can go so far as to give precedence to mobile displays when working on your homepage, over PC displays. Adjust font sizes, colour contrasts etc according to size of the screen and type of display.
Include scarcity and urgency triggers
There are generally two types of scarcity you can use to increase sales:
- Quantity-related scarcity (e.g., “Two seats left at this price!”);
- Time-related scarcity (e.g., “Last day to buy!”).
- Limit a time
- Choose suitable aesthetics
And most importantly, highlight the urgency and scarcity related deals very prominently on the homepage. Use appropriate large fonts, position the banners/ elements strategically to attract the most attention, and make it known to the shopper that they will miss out on a great opportunity if they do not capitalize immediately.
The homepage is where you should be mentioning all the deals and offers that you have on your products presently, across categories. The tactic is proven to work.