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How to improve the usability of your E-commerce. Using Nielsen’s 10 heuristics – part II

In the previous article we developed Jakob Nielsen’s first five heuristics, and we saw how the user experience can exponentially boost your business for the long term.

In this second part we are going to analyze the remaining 5 heuristics and share some sources to dig deeper into the topic.

#6 Recognition rather than recall

A user will perform a task as long as the complexity is not perceived as larger to the reward to be obtained. Otherwise, the user will leave the site.
Thus, we can say that there is a correlation between conversion and the easiness in the use of processes.

The conversion of your e-commerce has a correlation with the easiness and the simplicity with which a purchase is done.

In this example, we see how Apple uses icons to describe its products. In this way, people can recognize what they are looking for without having to read and process information. Incorporating visual elements allows the user to quickly recognize the options.

One of the most popular techniques is the progressive loading of information: Why not showing short and simple steps in our processes?
It is shown that people have a limit for the amount of stimuli we can receive without mental effort (as said by Daniel Kahneman). If we use this to our benefit, it is preferable to use various simple steps, rather than one single complex step.

In the picture, we see how Instacart uses a screen to show the shopping cart, another one to enter the delivery information and another one for the payment.

As the sections in the Instacart purchase process is completed, the information is fixed to the top part of the screen, which is helpful as the user does not have to remember the information previously completed, which gives confidence to confirm the purchase.

#7 Flexibility and efficiency of use

As the name indicates, it is important that the systems are flexible and efficient. It is generally associated with effectiveness and easiness with which users perform a task.

For instance, in Instacart we see how the user can add a payment method in case of not having it. But once it is added, they can operate faster.

In this case, Instacart turns a long and tedious process such as completing the payment information, and transforms a necessary step into a distinctive benefit in the experience of future purchases. Instead of adding the payment information every time you shop, they ask to store your payment information. In this way, the users that have already performed a purchase will have a more efficient experience in their future purchases.

However, this does not mean it isn’t flexible. Reducing steps does not mean making decisions for the users. For this reason, they show you the information and give you the possibility of changing it. For example: you have the option of choosing if you want to do it with PayPal or with the credit card you have stored.

#8 Aesthetic and minimalist design

When designing an e-commerce, the more striking the design is, the more complex will the site be perceived. On the other hand, if the experience is minimalist, the less mental energy the user will have to use to interact with the system.

But showing less stimulus does not mean it is minimalist. In this example, we can see how a business loses usability in the intent of being disruptive. Texts take more time to load, and it is not easy to find the product one is searching for. The user has to wait in order to understand what the business is selling, or enter the menu to accelerate the process. It has nice animations and pictures, but this beauty decreases functionality.

The site should be intuitive and not present unnecessary complexities. Disruption within an e-commerce store should be treated carefully, and done by user experience design professionals.

Make sure your site does not contain unnecessary information and that it respects patterns that are recognizable by the users. If a site works in a different way to what users are used to, or if it has irrelevant information, it is likely that the people who enter the site will not know how to interact with the system, or they may get lost and leave the site.

In the example, we see how Target uses a technological development that shows its products in 3D in specific places, where the user wishes, using its mobile phone camera. This disruption can offer a problem in the process of purchasing decorative items, and pairs disruption together with service.

#9 Helping users recognise, diagnose and troubleshoot errors

It is closely linked to control and freedom. It is important that errors don’t block the interaction, and if they did, the system should provide the necessary information so that people can troubleshoot themselves, without contacting customer service.

In the example, we can see how Mailchimp troubleshoots an error both when the user does not have a list of emails created in the system, and in the log in process.

Similar problems occur when you are observing a product on a site, and in the middle of the process they run out of stock, or when there is no delivery in a certain area selected. The online store should clearly show what to do in this situation, whether you can change the product or ask for a refund. Either way, it should indicate the steps to follow and offer a simple solution.

These are the key moments to build bonds of trust between the people and our brand.

#10 Help and documentation

Although it would be ideal that the user didn’t need a manual to use a system, this is not always possible, and for this reason it is always useful to have documentation that will be helpful to those who may need it.

In this example, we see how Lacoste shows a size chart where it clarifies the measures on its store. This way, the user can self-guarantee that their choice is correct.

Something similar happens when a user was not satisfied with its purchase and wishes to return it. If you have a special section explaining how the returns system works, the buyer will be able to do it in a simple way, and will not be frustrated trying to find out how to do it. This transparency will also strengthen their relationship with your brand, in spite of its nonconformity with the product purchased.

Important! It is highly valuable to work with User Experience professionals. UX is a discipline that studies and improves experiences. Applying it to your site, you can increase the return of investment (ROI) in order to attract traffic to the site.

A very important resource is the website of Baymard institute, which produces and publishes many studies linked to usability studies in e-commerce sites, which will be very helpful if you want to incorporate the best usability practices to your site.

At Adtomic we are motivated by innovation and the search for new improvement opportunities. We work hard so that our clients can interact with our tools easily. The passion we put in our job fosters us to seek for improvement constantly, incorporating new functions to keep our clients up to date and facilitate their daily work.

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