Ecommerce Usability: Getting It Right

For any business, whether brick and mortar or solely web based, ecommerce has become a required aspect. Online sales worldwide have reached an all time high in the trillions and it’s clear that the majority of consumers do much of their shopping, if not all, online. This trend is only on the upswing, and consumers have become increasingly discerning in the sites they purchase from.

To increase traffic and conversions, a business must focus on every detail, with specific attention to the site’s usability in order to create the user experience that has become a prerequisite of doing business in the digital environment.

First Impression

Nowhere is usability more important than on the landing page, particularly of an ecommerce site. The user has been driven to the site either looking specifically for an item or are curious to find out more about the brand, product or services being offered. Either way, their first impression will be the one that will make or break the conversion. Ensuring that the front page is as intuitive as possible is key, providing calls to action and informing – yet not overwhelming. The user should be able to find what they are looking for almost immediately while simultaneously understanding your brand. In this case, large images with a sliding feature are ideal in conveying brand vision, product features and special offers without overwhelming the user.

Product Organization

Defining a product organization strategy for ecommerce can be a daunting digital task. If working with hundreds or even thousands of products or SKUs, it can mean an entire rework of the products traditional structure. The key is to simplify and remain consistent. Pare down each category to the basics and provide overarching ‘umbrella’ categories. Create a navigation structure that will remain for enough time that users will become comfortable and intuitively know where to go next time they come to the site. Use strategic and somewhat pared down judgement when creating product categories that result in the minimum number of clicks for the user to get to their desired destination.

Item Details

Providing as much information about the products offered at a granular level is paramount to the success of the site, customer satisfaction and conversion levels. Basic product information should be easily available without user prompting with additional product information available at the users prompt (either via roll over or drop down) – don’t make the user click through to additional information which can result in a lost sale. Ensure product photography is up to date, the right resolution and accurate to the item description. Consider hiring copywriter for product details.

Building Trust

Increasingly, customers simply will not become engaged with a business that will not extend a level of commitment to them. Building rapport with users through a defined attention to their true identity through powerful digital strategies such as heightened customer service, a secure site verification, community building, live chat, special offers and transparent business practices will ensure a lasting and profitable union.


While it’s important to focus on the overall design of the site relative to the ecommerce platform, and how the typographic elements intermix with their visual counterparts – it’s critical to remember that the purpose of the content is to help the user solve a problem and accomplish a goal oriented task – in this case, make a purchase. Taking into consideration the importance of fonts in influencing users – the right implementation of this sometimes overlooked aspect makes the difference in delivering a better user experience and heightened conversions.

Focusing on usability and the user experience will promote the qualities needed to sustain an ecommerce business. Starting smart with a platform and team that aligns with the business vision (and budget) will set the tone for the project ahead, increasing the chance of longevity and a steady financial stream.

Vanessa Petersen

As Executive Director of Brand Strategy based in ArtVersion’s Portland office, Vanessa manages both national and West Coast accounts. She brings with her a passion for strategy with extensive experience in creative marketing, brand growth and development. She is a true advocate of storytelling and brand building from the inside out, and her keen knowledge of the marketplace, trend patterns and usability lead her to identify opportunities that can inspire powerful design strategies.

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