E-commerce UX: what it is & how to test


E-commerce/retail websites and apps are constantly slammed by an influx of visitors curious why this particular product is the one they need. Before and beyond the transaction, websites and apps need to be investing in the experience they are providing their users with, which will be the deciding factor when it comes to converting visitors into customers.

Put simply, your e-commerce website needs to be providing a good user experience. But crafting a successful e-commerce user experience requires specific data to drive decision making, data that can be best gathered via user / usability testing.

What it should do

E-commerce UX is distinct from most types of UX due to the nature of transactional relationships. You want the user to spend money on your product, which means you need to be providing a mixture of appealing design, transparent information, a lifestyle/idea (in ad terms), and much more case-specific details, all the while hoping that your marketing as brought the right demographic to your page or app in the first place.

The best e-commerce UX is typified by a simplistic and minimally intrusive design that highlights without overshadowing. This type of UX is graded not by how inspiring, trendy, or awe-striking the design is, but how usable the systems are. Coherent user flow trumps clever design every time in e-commerce UX.


Usability test goals

We've ran hundreds, thousands of e-commerce UX usability tests and studies. In fact, one of our greatest success stories led to an 85% increase of conversion rates, a 147% increase in revenue, and a 29% increase in value. That’s the power of investing in e-commerce UX!

When setting the goals of your own e-commerce UX usability test, start with these two questions:

  • Can users quickly find what they want?
  • Can users successfully make a purchase?

  • We’ve shared insights on writing a usability test for e-commerce UX before, and that wisdom still stands. But the most important consideration is intuitive navigation. The user needs to understand how to buy at every step of the flow. Big picture branding notions like “why to buy” is up to marketing.

    Setting up your test and interpreting impact

    With something as important as e-commerce UX, we recommend starting with the SUS psychometric. This is the industry-standard approaching to testing and grading a system's usability.

    Next, you'll want to start iterative UX testing, running multiple usability tests with short succession with small design tweaks to see the difference your changes are making. You’d be amazed at how the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. With UX Sprint, our built-in iterative testing feature for Team and Enterprise Plans, measuring the impact of such tweaks is easy.

    Finally, remember that this isn't just about making a single-transaction. The mark of great e-commerce UX is customer retention. It sounds simple, and it is, but it’s far from easy. So, after you start honing-in on your areas of opportunity after rounds and rounds of usability testings, try enabling our NPS feature to see how loyal and likely to recommend your product users are.

    The Net-Promoter Score is a great tool for gauging how likely repeat customers are going to be. If they loved their experience, they will return to it again, hopefully bringing their friends. This lends great credibility to your e-commerce UX design changes.

    Metrics to watch

    Perhaps the most obvious metric, especially for e-commerce sites, is the conversion rate. Most companies should already be tracking this every which way from Sunday, which makes testing UX that much easier.

    Drop off rates measure the number of users who did not complete any conversion goals on your site or app. Usability testing is the only reliable way to uncover the pain points causing users to drop off.

    With usability testing, you can see both the qualitative evidence (via live video) and the quantitative metrics(time of task, single-ease questionnaire, task completion percentage, etc.) to uncover flaws in your e-commerce UX.

    And the best part is that you don’t even need to pull the trigger on live redesigns. Most usability testing platforms, like us, can test prototypes and wireframes of websites and apps!


    Our Allbirds vs Greats UX War is a great place to see how two similar brands differ in their e-commerce UX, and how that effects their usability.


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