In the digital era of today, eCommerce websites have been hard at work to replicate and resemble, as closely as possible, a physical retail store and create the environment or mood that it would, in an online landscape.
In this journey of making the user feel at a symbolic home, the home where they are comfortable with trying out services, there’s various challenges and most pertain to how much of an accessible and convenient user interface (UI) design your website can create.
When we talk about UI, it’s not just about the visual outlook, the fonts and styles that contribute to the design, or the colors used. Instead, on a much deeper level, it represents the niche of your eCommerce brand and so a good UI design always goes hand-to-hand with creating a prominent presence of the company.
Not only does it set a tone that differs according to the services you’re providing, the particular group of audience you’re targeting, or a niche you’re representing, but a good UI will communicate just the required information and data to the viewer as succinctly and precisely as possible, while making sure bounce rates are also reduced.
This will, in turn, help you with 3 things:
- retain users’ interest
- attract new users
- and ultimately, result in increased conversion rates and sales
Below, we analyze the goal of every UI design, and then proceed to discuss three key factors that will lead to increased awareness of the brand and subsequent purchases.
The essence of a good UI design
At its core, an effective UI design is just about conveying valuable information and guiding the user from one section to another until they reach the seller’s heaven: the check-out page, or in other cases, the subscription or ‘sign-up’ page.
For this purpose, right from the homepage, one thing should be clear: this is YOUR brand. No matter how cluttered or minimalist your homepage aims to be, it should be in the vein of representing your brand and the values it stands on.
This personification or reflection of identity is essential and a good example of that is SoundCloud. This website uses a bright color palette that adds to the ‘uplifting’ feel of the whole ordeal. The orange and white dance well together and the combination is present throughout the web. The background works well to convey the feeling of joy listening to music while the snippet of text or slogan sums up all SoundCloud’s about: finding, sharing and streaming music with a passionate community.
We can gather some idea of other important aspects from the UI design of SoundCloud like the need for clarity, ease of access and convenience all around for the viewer. The ‘Connect on SoundCloud’, which the website’s main goal at this point of the user’s journey, takes the spotlight thanks to the size of font and its placement.
For those looking to browse around for a quick view, the search bar is directly below for accessibility. This also ties into another essential aspect of the web design: its navigation system. Since in all its basic senses, a website is a network about inter-connectivity between the different sections, the transitioning should be smooth and intuitive.
Simple features and design choices like these are capable of catching the viewer’s eye without redirecting their attention elsewhere or bombarding them with info with the ‘coming too strong’ approach which might lead to increased bounce-rates.
With the goal of establishing an effective and viable UI design, we’ll be shedding light on some the important elements that every eCommerce website owner should pay mind to when designing the platform to boost promotion and sales.
Serving as interactive tools or buttons, Call-to-Action (CTAs) usher the user and direct them, step-by-step from where they are to where they ‘need’ to be, at least for the benefit of the businessman.
Since human beings are much better at processing visual information or noticing content that stands out from the rest, CTAs do an amazing job at being visible to the viewer.
Moreover, thanks to their prominence among the audience, they are designed to elicit or receive a response from the user. This action can be anything from ‘Sign Up’, ‘Buy now’ to ‘Read more’, and ‘Download now’, as long as it’s clickable and will redirect users to a different section of the site.
In this sense, not only do CTA buttons tell the users what to do next, they eliminate any notions of ‘second thoughts’ or doubts. Such a feature is important when it comes to reducing bounce rates since CTAs are helping the user spend more time browsing through the important aspects of the website and eventually leading them to the destination aimed by the eCommerce brand.
In regards to UI of these buttons, there are certain things to keep in mind: The contrast and color of CTAs in reference to the background of the webpage makes a valuable contribution to the goal at hand here by setting them apart from the other elements of the web.
For this purpose, it’s better to have CTA boxes that are solid and filled with colors rather being hollow. Look at Joules’s homepage to get an idea:
It works well because of the red-and white-contrast as well as the fact the boxes are filled with red color which sets them apart from the light background.
Now take a look at the homepage from Unbounce and how they choose to design their most important CTA.
These two CTAs don’t paint as striking or effective a picture as the Netflix did with its CTAs since there’s little to no contrast between the background and the CTAs. It’s no surprise that many e-commerce sites nowadays have been going for the Netflix approach.
The shape of CTAs also make a difference where rectangles with circular edges pointing inwards, like that in Unbounce’s example above, work best.
This is important to focus a viewer’s attention to the content inside since sharp edges are a bit jarring to look at. Sharp edged rectangles indeed take more cognitive ability to process according to Professor Jürg Nänni in his book Visual Perception.
Size of CTAs matter primarily for handheld devices since tapping a larger button is much easier than one for which you might need to magnify the content first. Serving this purpose, some eCommerce sites have also been using whole images or illustrations as CTAs to rule out any inconveniences for mobile platforms.
The check out section
Though this is primarily for the cart section of a retail eCommerce site, the guidelines apply perfectly to other internet-based businesses as well as the subscription pages. Basically, you can reserve the style, decorations, attractive icons and everything that adds to the mood of the web, outside this section.
The cart section is to be as minimalistic as possible with little to no colors involved, and simple and readable fonts present. All those fancy shenanigans were there to convince the viewer to stay for longer, but that task has already been fulfilled. Now, your web is to act as professionally and mundane even, as possible.
Sophie & Trey is a good example of an effective and straight-forward check-out page:
Quantity and size can be changed then and there, if there’s a change of mind. The complete receipt is displayed on the right side with clarified details of specific charges. Lastly, the Checkout button is big and bold enough that it becomes the ‘next step’ after verifying the info to confirm the purchase.
Regarding the registration and subscription pages, the same clarity and accessibility in the UI design is encouraged. Forms should only ask for only the relevant details required. Sometimes, going out of the way by asking current occupation of the individual or how they got referred to the site might annoy them out of the whole ordeal.
After all, these final pages are all about securing the deal and you cannot compromise anything about it by incorporating something irrelevant or unnecessary. A simple design will be convenient for users for to interpret and thus easy to decide if they want to finalize their order for the service.
Friendly error messages
One way or another, you can expect your customer to run into an issue, be it a technical one on your website’s side, or a lack of understanding from the consumer himself. These errors are no good news, but the least you can do is make them feel justified by providing a sound explanation or reason for them.
Using a vague statement like ‘An error has occurred’ is frustrating and the user is complete hopeless of what the next step should be. This may very well result in the user not returning to the site for a while ending up in overall reduced conversion rates.
Explanation of the error should be concise without getting too much into the technical details. All it should inform of is whether the fault was that of the user or one which arose from the website’s shortcomings. If it’s the former, offer a short solution while for the latter, acknowledge the fault and give them some consolation by redirecting them to a different section or telling them that the error has been forwarded.
Remember, though it’s still a computer and its code, the way it should be presented is as if a human is talking to another one. Get creative with your error messages like what HubSpot did above. In fact, couple the error message with a CTA like ‘Retry’ or offer other options to keep the user engaged rather than complete oblivious of the situation.
A good User Interface will serve as the complete roadmap and part of the experience for the user when they try to get a notion of what your brand’s about and what services are offered. If the experience’s a swell one especially when it comes to the ease-of-access and robustness, there’s no reason as to why the user shouldn’t spend more timing browsing the web in its entirety.
In such circumstances, most of the time, the visitor will soon become a consumer adding one more feather to your corporate cap.
Jenny Harrison is a passionate marketing and business blogger. She loves to engage with readers who are seeking B2B and B2C marketing related information. She’s a featured blogger at various high authority blogs and magazines in which she shared her research and experience with the vast online community. Currently, she’s associated with PNC Digital, an Orlando based E-Commerce Development Company.