What Really Goes Into an eCommerce UX Review?

If you’ve ever thought of having a UX (user experience) review done for your eCommerce website, you may be wondering what really happens behind the scenes. The fact is, it’s about much more than just design. An eCommerce UX review assesses your website’s usability as it relates to vital customer experience touchpoints, such as:

● User sensation, perception and cognition

● User psychology and customer behavior

● Current user­ interface trends and

● App navigation and ease of use

But UX reviews don’t just benefit consumers. They also provide detailed insights and measurable results when applied to business goals, helping your organization to:

● Increase conversion rates

● Increase engagement metrics

● Reduce customer support costs

● Cut redevelopment costs

● Increase brand awareness

The truth is that if your prospects have a poor experience navigating your website, the frustration and confusion will also carry over to your product or service. It may not cause them to abandon their carts initially, but over time, these frustrations build up to the point where the customer feels they have no other recourse than to go to a competitor. 

A UX review can change the playing field, creating a competitive edge for an eCommerce website. 

Although it’s impossible to create a “one size fits all” overview of a UX review, there are certain things that nearly all websites have in common where a UX review could prove extremely beneficial.

The Homepage

This is the point that can make or break whether or not a customer decides to go further into your site.  Key aspects we look at here include the “visual competition” between the message you want to convey versus other aspects such as promotions, sales or alerts.  We also look at product catalog listings and reference the available metadata to determine the best possible grouping and presentation of the items to invite users to click.

Other common aspects of the homepage can include product carousels, image zooms, the use of understandable icons and so forth. You must absolutely create instant “relatability” by telling a story — connecting with the user’s pain points or frustrations, sharing your product or service as the easy solution, and building trust over time with a consistent customer experience across all channels.

There are often issues found here wherein a customer can click to see a product in more detail, but must go through several more pages before they can add it to their cart. Or they can zoom in but cannot figure out how to close the window or go to the previous page.  Your homepage is your digital storefront. What are you doing to entice customers to stop what they’re doing and come in for a closer look?

All of these homepage issues may seem minor, but they add up and cause friction that automatically predisposes a consumer not to buy from you.

One of the first ways a user learns to navigate a site and find what they’re looking for is through the use of menus or site searches. But these areas are seldom given the attention they’re deserved. A UX review looks not only at the function of a search or product selection, but also its form.

How easy is it for a customer to find precisely what they need on the first try? Do partial or misspelled searches work? What about the results page? 

If a customer does a broad search for products, you don’t want to overwhelm them by forcing them to scroll through screen after screen of results. 

Even when they see the results page, how easy is it for them to locate the item they want, filter or customize it, and then add it to their cart?  

These are all pertinent questions that a UX review will answer for you.

What’s more, a customer may anticipate finding their item in a certain category, only to not find it there. 

They may very well assume it’s unavailable or back-ordered, and end their search at that point. These are all considerations that need to be taken into account when a UX review is done.

Product Display

Inventory management in e-commerce stores is just as important on the front-end as it is on the back-end.  

Sadly, even the most robust management systems and website storefronts will needlessly pepper consumers with information they don’t need – such as manufacturing numbers, product codes and inventory requirements.

How the products are displayed is also important. 

A UX review will note any inconsistencies in background, lighting and other aspects so that all products can appear as uniform as possible. Even in areas where they can open a lightbox to view a larger image, the option to buy should always be readily available. 

A solid UX review will look at this process from a customer’s point of view, whether they’re just browsing or actively engaged in the process.

Forms and Forms Submissions

This is a huge area of concern for UX teams simply because so much is riding on that form submission. Whether it’s a mailing list subscription or a cart checkout or even a contact form, failing to make it as efficient and usable as possible in both form and function will just add to the user’s frustration.

For example, is the form mobile responsive? Do fields have appropriate labels? Is it easy to understand at-a-glance what is being asked for? What is required and why is it required? Are there too many fields and are they viewed as unnecessary or intrusive by the customer? What does the company do with the information submitted? How often will they contact me?

In many cases, a customer won’t even entertain the option of filling out your form if you request too much information up-front. This includes common things like phone number or address. These kinds of disruptions can lead to a customer asking “why do they need that information at this point?”

These are all questions that a customer asks well before they hit “Submit”, and a UX review can bring these concerns to light along with actionable strategies that can help users feel at ease.

So, How Do We Fix It?

This is the question on everyone’s mind when considering a UX review. It’s good to know what the precise issues are, as well as get suggestions on how to remedy them, but in many cases, the actual fixing of the issue can prove frustrating.

Keep in mind that a UX review alone won’t solve your problems. It will tell you where you’re leaking visitors (and conversions and profits), but just knowing about the problem doesn’t fix it. 

Fortunately, we provide actionable, straightforward solutions that both designer and developers can understand and implement right away on their own. 

With less back and forth, you get the results you want – faster and more efficiently.

Of course, with that being said, sometimes the suggested solutions are a lot to keep in mind, and for a small development team or a startup, it can be overwhelming.  

That’s why we offer additional services to help you put these recommendations into practice right away. 

If you’re a more established, agile company, a UX review is a strategy that can easily pay off for you time and time again. You’ll get the insights you need to make course-corrections quickly and succinctly, keeping you ahead of the game.

For instance, you may want to conduct independent user testing to determine what issues your target audience may have with your website in addition to having a professional UX review. 

We can help you set up such a testing scenario for up to 50 users. This helps you gain valuable feedback about areas where users are currently stumbling on the site, and what parts they consider problematic in addition to more far-reaching UX issues.

In addition, we can work with your existing design or development team to turn our recommendations into reality. It’s not always necessary to do a complete facelift on a site, but we would be more than happy to help guide and instruct your team in better user experience practices while helping to guide and refine your ideas to better adhere to best UX practices.

About the author:

Ryan O'Connor

Ryan has helped build compelling experiences for startups and Fortune 500’s around the globe, a passion he draws from his endless curiosity of psychology, computer interaction, and company culture. A published author and mentor with an M.S. in Human Factors, Ryan is on a mission to help companies discover the balance of creating delightful digital experiences while achieving business goals.