10 Online UX Features that WON’T deter me from making a purchase on your website

I consider myself to be somewhat of a professional online shopper. I can spend hours and hours putting together shopping carts of things that I most likely won’t ever buy or won’t buy for weeks (sorry retailers- at least I don’t abandon the cart?) and with a background in retail and design, I often ask myself about which UX-related features either incentivize me to follow through with a purchase and which ones send me away from a website immediately.

With years of scrolling experience under my belt, here are 10 UX features that are critical for me (your slightly-more-informed than average/relatively average consumer) to not leave your website right after getting there:

  1. The design of your website is nice to look at. It sounds like this should be obvious, but there are so many retailers (very prominent retailers, I might say) that have website presences that are janky, disorganized, and confusing for the eye. Clear lines and white space are your friends! When I get to your homepage, your website should adapt to the relative size of my screen, I shouldn’t get hit with 1,000 pop-ups, and the different sections of the homepage should scroll in blocks that are fluent to the size of the screen. Examples of nice, clean websites: Everlane and Topo Designs. Examples of hard to look at websites: Old Navy and Macy’s.
  2. Pop-ups, not Blow-ups. Upon getting to the homepage, a few pop-ups are okay. These would include current and relative promotions, a chat bot, or an email box for a promotion. It should be incredibly easy to click out of them and they shouldn’t take up the whole screen. If I get to your website and the whole thing goes black so that a plethora of popups that I have to spend time figuring how to get out of pop-up, I’m out. Going off of that…
  3. Give a little, get a little. One of my favorite features is a pop-up that asks for my email for a first-time purchase discount in return. I usually fall for this all of the time and it 100% incentivizes me to make a purchase because of that 10-20% off discount (preferably the 20). I then tend to find that I like the products, not just the brand, and I come back to make repeat purchases.
  4. A submissive chatbot. In the last year I have utilized chatbots A TON and have actually found them to be incredibly useful. A chatbot that can connect you to an actual human who can answer questions about your product is a great way to get consumers informed about what they’re buying and why they should buy it. I’ve found a great deal of help with chatbots when buying a car, looking at new cell phone plans, and deciding on buying a secondhand luxury bag. Chatbots can also be super useful when you head to a website on a very specific mission and they pop-up right away, directing you to where you need to go. What’s not helpful, however, is when chatbots pop-up every time you click something new or go to a new page and you then are forced to click out of or minimize them every 30 seconds. That is incredibly annoying, but one pop-up at the beginning of my search and easy access to open the pop-up are great features to have. I want to control the power of the chatbot, and not the other way around. Lastly, I don’t expect there to be a real-live person behind the chatbot 24/7, but during normal business hours is great. Speaking of getting help…
  5. The “Contact Us” tab is easy to find. Think about it. If I’m a customer that’s dissatisfied with something about my experience or purchase, and I have to struggle to find where I can get help, I’m not going to be any more satisfied. A clear place to contact for order help is so important, and getting a response within 24 hours is even better.
  6. Out of stock’s are clearly marked. Is there anything more awful than scrolling past a product that you love, clicking it like any other one, and then seeing that it’s not even available? I’ve always wondered how hard it could be to manage labeling the out-of-stock’s clearly so that I don’t have to bother clicking unless I want to get on a waitlist. My favorite type of listing is when an entire product is out of stock, there’s a big box on the listing saying “out of stock,” and when there’s a size or two out of stock, the in-stock sizes are listed under the product when I scroll so that I know whether or not it is worth my time to click through.
  7. Remembering where I was in a scroll. Something that I have come to no longer tolerate is when I scroll and scroll and scroll through pages of listings, click on a product, and then go back to the product listings and the website forgets where I was and just sends me back to the top of page one. It is not worth my time to try and mega scroll back to where I was, especially if I was just scrolling and didn’t have the option of clicking through page numbers. If I experience this, I immediately leave the website because it is 2020, thousands of other retail sites can perform this function, and there is no excuse.
  8. Remembering my cart, at least for awhile. It warms my heart when my computer dies, I have to create all of my tabs again, and what was in my cart at a specific retailer is there again right when I open up the website. Pure bliss. While I don’t expect a site to remember my cart for months, it is a really useful tool when you go back and forth on deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
  9. Products are styled on a person or where they should be used. It’s really hard to imagine how a product will look either on me or in my life if the only pictures of it are laying flat on a white background. I have also found that depending on the way that products are styled, I can easily be swayed to make more purchases because I love the way a sweater was paired with a pair of jeans or they way a pair of sneakers was styled with a cool pair of socks. One thing to look out for- making sure that the things worn in the product pictures are available in your store and are listed underneath the product, this is easy money! Back to that sweater, if I can’t find the jeans that I liked that are in the picture, how am I supposed to buy them?
  10. Products are represented on different-sized models. Lots of retailers are getting better at this, however it’s still not good enough. If your products are modeled only on one person, it’s really hard to think about how they will fit on me and how the colors will play with my skin. Obviously not every retailer has the budget to get thousands of shots for their websites, but having at least two models of differing sizes wearing different colors of the product if applicable truly helps me imagine myself wearing the items. ALSO- tell me what sizes the models are wearing!

Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement on the online retailing side when talking about user experience, and I’m hoping that someone will find this useful when testing the usability of their site or wondering why their traffic and/or conversion might not be where they want it to be.

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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