Ecommerce UX Best Practices
E-commerce UX. Yeah, I know, I hear the audible sigh when I say it, too, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. The way we handle e-commerce at the moment stands to improve, in a lot of ways. E-commerce encompasses a multitude of things, beyond business financial exchanges, and beyond customer/merchant online systems. It also includes the systems through which money is stored, transferred and received, and the payment gateways that pound these nails in each transaction as well. So, there’s a lot of stuff going on here, and we’re going to ignore inter/intra-business e-commerce entirely here and focus on the meat of this UX category, which is the online mercantile sector. We have some problems to address when it comes to e-commerce UX in this respect. One of the biggest problems, and one that you can solve by following some simple best practices, is the adherence to a strictly limited set of payment methods. Some online companies, when designing their e-commerce system, do not integrate compatibility with anything aside from checking, credit and debit systems, which just ticks everyone off to no end, myself included. When companies do integrate an online service, they almost always exclusively incorporate PayPal. Well, PayPal has some bad UX practices going on, as well as a host of unscrupulous activities in its history (one of which being the crime of suspending accounts to conduct kiting activities). PayPal gets away with this because companies designing their ecommerce systems don’t’ allow other payment methods to be viable, meaning that other payment service alternatives like Google Checkout never get the momentum behind them to grow or be practical. The first thing to remember is that the more options you have, the better off you are. Now, let’s talk about the shopping cart and why it needs to go away and never return. This system is not only silly, but it also causes a lot of accidental orders induced by idle shopping and misplaced clicks. But, some method of collectively ordering multiple objects needs to be in place, or it becomes inconvenient, doesn’t it? This is where a system called “order instancing” comes in handy. Basically, you allow the customer to create an order, with an ID and notes on it, and they can then add things to this like an order form list, as they shop. It can easily be destroyed, and expires after X amount of time. This is a better solution than static, confusing and silly metaphors like the shopping cart. This is a good UX decision, to reshape how multi-orders are handled. When displaying products, information needs to be dynamic. Customers want multi-faceted pictures of products, and they want easy to read, but highly detailed information. To achieve this, test what customers most want to know about any given thing, and be sure that information is there. Finally, databases need to be maintained, and this means that out of stock items need to not show up in searches unless the searches explicitly request them. This is a practice that alleviates a lot of disappointments for customers.These are the e-commerce UX best practices which companies need to start observing, to make e-commerce less scary and less of a hassle for customers in the future.