No e-commerce experience is the same, but over the years we’ve come up with some key takeaways from our major projects. Consider these tips when designing your e-commerce experience.

Take your time

E-commerce projects should never be rushed. Ensure that all the little details have been addressed before the site goes live. Gartner has found that in 2016, 89% of companies plan to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience so pay particular attention to site performance, the purchase journey, and navigation.

57% of consumers will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. 71% of global mobile web users expect sites to load as quickly if not faster than a desktop computer. In addition, e-commerce shoppers have a unique, often omni-channel customer journey. Researching, mapping, and designing a complete customer journey map takes time, but the results of a successful omni-channel strategy definitely pay off.

User needs are often not what you’d expect

“You are not your user” is a defining mantra for good UX Designers and Product Managers. You cannot assume that you understand the needs of the user unless you’ve done comprehensive user research and have created tools to empathize with users.

One of our favourite recent retail clients wanted to drill deep into their customer base, so we collaboratively designed personas around selected target customers. As a result, the design team is able to make decisions on prioritization of the conflicting needs of different user groups.

Additional functionality can (sometimes) help increase conversion

Depending on what your product is, your user might be in the midst of making a high-involvement purchase decision. In these cases, certain added functionality can put your customer at ease and reassure them that they’re making the correct decision.

Functionality such as a ‘compare products’ option allows users to objectively make a decision. The kicker is that is best to design an experience to be as simple as possible but no simpler, so you need to do your research and know if your users will want and use the added functionality.

Overcome the fact that users can’t experience your product before they buy it

This is probably the biggest downfall for e-commerce. By the nature of the beast users can’t touch, feel, smell, try on, or otherwise experience what you’re selling before they buy it.

Overcome this by enabling your customers to make a decision. For a travel booking site or adventure retailer stunning, high quality photography will help your users imagine how they’d feel once they purchase. In some cases, detailed descriptions might work – they could be product specs, trip details, or ingredients. Customer reviews add social proof and can supplement descriptions with honest reviews of the product.

Understand what your users need to make a purchase decision and give it to them.

Always consider mobile

Mobile and omni-channel commerce isn’t going away. Shopping related searches on mobile increased 120% last year with 30% of mobile shoppers abandoning transactions if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Mobile shoppers will do everything that a desktop e-commerce shopper will do as long as the process is usable. So make sure the process is usable by basing mobile designs on research and best practices, and then testing it.

Test it, always!

Always test the usability of your e-commerce site. According to the Baymard Institute, 69% of e-commerce visitors abandon their shopping carts. Failing to uncover the usability issues these customers are facing is literally costing you. Seemingly small things like the wording or placement of a button can have a major impact on usability, and subsequently conversion.

Evolve as your user’s expectations evolve

The internet moves quickly and consumer expectations are constantly evolving. Ensure that your site is still meeting your user’s expectations and adheres to current best practices in usability and UX design.

Gather user feedback on your site frequently to gauge whether it’s still meeting your user’s needs. If you suspect that it’s not meeting expectations conduct a Usability Test or have an impartial designer trained in user psychology do a Heuristic Evaluation.


E-commerce is a beast that requires constant tending. If you can tackle it yourself, kudos! If not, you could bring in a consultancy that can help. I hope you found these tips helpful. Good luck out there!