• User-Centred Design

10th Jan 2014

4 min

Don’t use discounts to patch-up poor UX

We’ve returned to the PRWD office, full of New Year’s resolutions and looking forward to 2014. However, as we catch up with the usual ‘How was your Christmas? Eat many mince pies? Diet starts now!’ chat, a re-occurring heated discussion emerges when we start talking about the bargains we’d scored in the sales and of course, online shopping.

Not being able to face trudging around Manchester’s streets, I thought I’d sit with my laptop and a cuppa for a nice morning of sales shopping. The following hour or so of browsing sites to find the perfect bedding was frustrating and unsuccessful. I didn’t realise shopping for new bedding would be such a chore!

I’d heard there were some good deals to be had in the Homebase sale so that’s where I started my search. I thought I was doing well as I used filters to narrow down my selection to duvet covers, king-size and the colour white. Looking through a few product pages however, it became apparent that I would not continue to purchase on this site. The images used were low quality with little detail visible, a few products only displayed one image per product and the zoom functionality was pretty much useless.

Homebase Product Page

 

We know one of the main reasons users are put off buying online is low confidence in their purchase, partly due to the fact that they can’t touch and feel the products. There certainly wasn’t anything in place to alleviate these factors on the Homebase site and encourage me to buy online as opposed to in store.

A little more research revealed Homebase were certainly not in the minority, with many retailers guilty of the same issues. This got me thinking about must haves on a product page:

  • Multiple product images – large, hi- res images, displaying all the small details of the product and where applicable, images of the product from all angles.
  • Product details – this is another area to sell the product and its benefits whilst showing the personality of the site. However, product information is often lacking in personality and persuasion; yes consumers need to know the basics such as material and size, but they also need to be able to envisage themselves using the product and be encouraged to continue to buy it.  This article gives some great tips on ecommerce product page copy and how it can help improve conversion rates.
  • User reviews are a great way to help improve the missing element of not being able to try on or try out a product in store. With word of mouth being one of the most successful methods of advertising, this is just the online version. A consumer reading an authentic review of a product gives them in-depth insight they didn’t have before and helps to inform their purchasing decision.
  • Consistently in user research we see a well-known reason to abandon a purchase; delivery and returns policies. Consumers shouldn’t have to search for this information, it should be easy to find and furthermore, easy to understand.
  • Stock availability is another frustrating issue that regularly comes up in user research. Retailers have information about their stock levels, why not show it? Be transparent and set expectations, display when there is low stock availability. After all, this is a great persuasion technique!

With numbers of consumers shopping for bargains online growing year on year, month by month even, let’s hope that in 2014 retailers step up and meet the expectations of the consumer to ensure their shopping experience online is as seamless as it would be in store.