• User-Centred Design

1st Apr 2015

4 min

What is Ecommerce best practice?

Ecommerce best practice has been used as a standard set of guidelines to follow for Ecommerce sites. Ecommerce best practice guidelines give partially validated guidance and the basics for key pages on Ecommerce sites. For example: navigation should be clear; the product page should include multiple high-quality images, a price and an informative product description; there should be a prominent call to action; contact info should be clearly visible; allow visitors to checkout as a guest (or not, see ASOS) and checkout should include trusted icons and so forth.

The issue is, every Ecommerce site is different. They sell different products, represent different brands and most importantly, they have different customers.  This means the ‘one size fits all’ approach when redesigning a site can only go so far.

What does Ecommerce best practice not do?

  • Evolve with the customer and changes in behaviour over time. For example, taking into consideration the latest trends such as multi-device usage.
  • Apply to niche markets whose websites are likely to promote and sell products and services in a specific, tailored manner, such as luxury brands.
  • Allow you to manage or measure the risk of the changes made to a website and build quantifiable learnings.
  • Have a justified, informed reason for making changes as opposed to assumptions. For example, what if adding a secure icon to the checkout raises concerns with the customer as oppose to reassuring them?
  • Take into account current user behaviour on the site and carries through these learnings into the redesign.

In short, best practices are guidelines and that is how they should be used; as a checklist to get the basics right. From this baseline, each and every page can be optimised. A site that redesigns to best practice does not consider its customers, is not able to measure its success and furthermore, without continuously iterating and evolving, it is likely to see a plateaued performance with little ability to realise exponential growth.

What’s Better than Best Practice?

A data-driven re-design approach. Through a controlled, data-driven redesign, you can gather insights from analytics and high-quality user research. This allows you to truly understand both what users are currently doing on a site and furthermore, what their expectations, motivations and thoughts are towards the brand and on-site experience.  From this point you can use this insight to create hypotheses which help inform and prioritise design concepts collaborative sketching phases. Always refer back to the research to validate and rationalise ideas before implementing the final designs with a variety of A/B and multivariate tests.

There is a common misconception that A/B and multivariate tests are simply for making relatively small changes to a page, such as testing different types of headings. Whilst the methodology is the same and we do implement smaller tests that aim to refine a page, we also apply it on a much larger scale for page re-designs. We create variations that have been designed from user insight, data and the business’s objectives in mind, meaning the redesigned page reflects an entirely data-driven design.

This approach allows us to validate a hypothesis with real users and measure the impact on their behaviour, learn from the change and move forward with the optimised design by implementing it across the live site.


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Why take this approach?

  • Remove subjectivity and internal bias from design decisions and have your customers inform your programme of redesign.
  • Understand your current customer behaviour through analysis and interrogation of data, building a more accurate customer view.
  • Remove the risk of a redesign and implement change safely and successfully due to the data led nature of designs, decisions and A/B testing. Understand the key areas requiring improvement before redesigning them and create informed design solutions.
  • Measure and communicate the impact redesign decisions have; something that is extremely difficult with traditional redesigns.
  • Focus on your highest payoff goals through understanding current behaviour and prevent disrupting positive experiences.

Redesigning a website is usually a lengthy and costly process with a high risk associated with it due to its unpredictable impact. Data driven, incremental and measured changes when redesigning your site means you can be more confident in the results, whilst learning about your site performance and your visitors as you do so.

You can find out more about data driven website redesigns and how we run them on our website.

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