Ecommerce and STRV’s design team have a long history. We’ve designed numerous apps from scratch and have taken over existing projects for feature development and improvement.
In terms of the latter, we always start with the codebase, UX/UI review and user feedback of the existing solution. For product delivery from scratch, we lead in-depth conversations with the client, allocate sufficient time for research and pull from STRV’s past triumphs. Then, armed with our own observations, user needs and a clear understanding of the client’s business goals, budget and timeline requirements, we can start with crystal clear objectives. No guesswork.
Due to our experience with not just designing products but also tracking their long-term successes and failures in the past 16+ years, we’ve accumulated learnings that serve as an excellent guide for our team. These learnings, as well as our efforts to always be expanding and sharing our knowledge, also inform our approach in terms of awareness—of design trends, industry-specific needs and the big picture.
Because our ecommerce projects have come from various industries, we understand that each field of business has distinct requirements. By keeping these industry differences in mind, it’s of course hard to apply the same “rules” to every single project. However, there are a few key elements of ecommerce apps that are relevant no matter the field, business objectives or target audience. We’d like to share them here.
INTUITIVE USER INTERFACE, NO LENGTHY ONBOARDING
Very little good comes out of overwhelming users with an extensive onboarding process. The sooner people can get to shopping, the better. Onboarding may sometimes be a necessity, but rarely should it be anything more than that. Keep it fast and clear.
In the case of specific products or features for which it’s fitting, onboarding can also be interactive by connecting both the browsing experience and learning how to use the app. Saves time, holds a user’s attention and doesn’t feel like a time-waster.
NON-MANDATORY REGISTRATION, TO KEEP ALL USERS’ ATTENTION
Sign in/sign up should not be required before users can start browsing. Let them immediately see the app’s full offering because that’s what they want to do. You can ask them to sign up later—like during the checkout process.
Apps that ask users to sign in/sign up before browsing have a high drop-off rate. Users have not built a connection to your app yet, and blocking them from doing so by asking them to confirm they’ll remain connected can make a bad impression. It’s best to leave browsing completely open and welcoming if possible. But, if that’s not an option, you can include a guest account so that it doesn’t cause a notable delay.
EASY NAVIGATION THAT STICKS TO WHAT WORKS
Intuitive navigation is key. Bad navigation leads to users getting lost in the app, which is one of the most frequent UX mistakes. But if you do it right, you’re halfway to success.
It’s actually easier than it may seem. We recommend following industry standards and patterns. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, as most ecommerce solutions follow the same flow. Just take what’s been proven to be the best approach, and make it your own in ways that don’t affect the basics.
WELL-CATEGORIZED PRODUCTS & REAL-TIME SUGGESTIONS
Your users will spend most of their time on the searching and browsing experience. Easy-to-find products that are well categorized and easily searchable can make a world of difference. And more than just making it simple, there are ways of taking it to the next level.
Real-time product suggestions based on user input are a great addition to your app. You can also utilize personalization to adjust content based on a user’s preference; showing users products they may be interested in before they see the rest of the offer can make the shopping experience even more appealing. A nice way of doing this is by having a special tab or section like “Made for You,” which can shorten the user flow that users usually have to go through to get to products they like.
EFFORTLESS PRODUCT PURCHASE USER FLOW
An easy and fast product purchase user flow lets users choose from multiple relevant variations— such as colors, sizes, etc.—during the shopping process as effortlessly as possible.
While the importance of intuitive UX/UI is obvious in this case, many apps make the mistake of having buttons/icons that are either too small and easily missed, too overwhelming in their details or positioning, or so uncommon and quirky that users don’t understand their meaning. Beware of these downfalls.
CHECKOUT IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
Pre-fill, pre-fill, pre-fill. So many apps skimp on this, and it’s a real shame. The checkout experience should have as few steps as possible, with all of the known user details pre-filled. Including this detail results in increased conversion and prevents drop-offs.
While the checkout flow has a certain basic structure, it can be more customized than many other parts of the app. For example, the bottom menu can be hidden since it is not needed during this time. This goes hand-in-hand with the main rule here: Optimize the checkout to make finishing the purchase as quick as possible, with no distractions.
As mentioned, this is a good place to include the signup process. Users expect it, they’ve shown a commitment to the purchase, they’ve gotten to know your app and there’s a strong chance they’ll be coming back. Having them sign up will make the next purchase even easier.
ORDER MANAGEMENT & STATUS TRACKING
All ecommerce solutions send a confirmation email following a purchase, but some still don’t offer the option of tracking the order. This is a mistake, especially nowadays. In many cases, people have gotten used to keeping track of orders in real-time, especially due to food delivery services. Giving them no tracking information whatsoever can make them question your business. A clear tracking status helps build trust.
To build even more trust, mention your customer support in the status tracking or within the order management flow. This lets users know that they can easily connect with the seller and won’t need to search the app for answers if there is an issue.
PERSONALIZED CONTENT, WITHOUT GOING TOO NUTS
Personalization is one of the main selling points for many brands. In this age, what usually applies is: the better the personalization, the better the relationships with users thanks to the overall user experience.
Get your tone of voice right. Use words and syntax that suit your product and your audience. Tailor offers to your users—for example by interests, location, taste, etc. Just remember not to overdo it. You don’t want to lack honesty or accuracy, and you don’t want users to feel like the app is a little “too much.”
In terms of UI and visual style in general, there are a lot of sterile-looking apps, meaning that they are, well, boring. If you have a specific niche in mind, reflect this within the design. Bring people into a whole world and let them enjoy the experience. In simple terms: visuals + copy + clear UX = top stuff.
RELIABLE CUSTOMER SUPPORT AT THE READY
People make mistakes. Your users will make mistakes, too. Someone will fill in the wrong shipping address. Someone will realize they chose a gift that’s unfitting. The list goes on. When users realize their errors, it’s always helpful to give them support in the form of a friendly, available person who can help whenever needed. With this, you’re proving that the app is reliable not just when things go well but also when users are met with having to deal with issues.
Don’t forget to make sure that users don’t have to try too hard to find your customer support. Include contact information in all relevant places, such as an easily-found Contact page and purchase confirmation emails.
ANALYTICS, REPORTING & USER FEEDBACK
This is often handled by a third-party. Whatever route you choose to take here, just make sure you’re taking one. It’s always important to track data about your customers. It can be “reused” later or can be taken as feedback for future improvements of the app.
Analytics play a big role in optimizing UX, UI and performance. There is so much to improve on a regular basis, and users can become a well of useful information. Utilizing testing or surveys for these purposes can also be a great long-term investment; they can be used to pinpoint improvements about particular features or to confirm hypotheses.
Any questions? Or do you have an ecommerce idea in your back pocket that you'd like the world to finally see?