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E-commerce User Interface Design Lawrence Najjar Information Architect Viant lnajjar@viant.com Outline Why worry about e-commerce usability? Why improve e-commerce usability? Page format Navigation Catalog Registration Checkout Why Worry about E-commerce Usability?

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e commerce user interface design

E-commerce User Interface Design

Lawrence Najjar

Information Architect



  • Why worry about e-commerce usability?
  • Why improve e-commerce usability?
  • Page format
  • Navigation
  • Catalog
  • Registration
  • Checkout
why worry about e commerce usability
Why Worry about E-commerce Usability?
  • Up to 50% of potential sales lost because shoppers cannot find what they want1, 2
  • 83% of shoppers left e-commerce sites due to poor navigation and slow downloads3
  • 78% of shoppers abandoned their online shopping carts4
why improve usability
Why Improve Usability?
  • After improving e-commerce usability:
    • IBM got 400% increase in sales5
    • DEC got 80% increase in revenue6
  • Improving usability estimated to:
    • Increase number of buyers by 40%7
    • Increase order size by 10% 7
page format
Page Format
  • Design page size for AOL users8, 9, 10
  • Design page to download in less than 10 seconds (40K)11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
  • Put user interface elements in familiar locations17, 18
  • Put shopping cart summary on every page18, 19
  • Put sign-in entry fields on home page
  • Include links for contact us, privacy policy, security info, and referral20, 21
  • Make nav simple, intuitive, and consistent
  • Tell user where user is, how user got there, how to get back, where else to go22
  • Provide global and local nav controls
  • Use breadcrumbs
  • Allow user to get to any product in 5 clicks or less23
  • Provide specialized browse functions
navigation continued
Navigation (continued)
  • Put search entry field on every page
  • Design search to put user’s searched-for hit on first page of search results
  • Allow user to search by product name, product category, brand, model/item number, and price
  • On search results page, allow user to perform another search, refine results, and sort results
  • Let user directly enter the catalog
  • Organize catalog into familiar sections
  • Allow user to sort products in a section24
  • Provide link to put product in wish list and to e-mail page
  • Show shipping cost
  • Include product comparison tool25
  • Include expert product reviews and allow users to enter reviews
  • The more streamlined registration process is, the more likely users will register and buy26, 15
  • Require only e-mail address, password, permission to e-mail promotions, and permission to leave cookie27
  • Get other user info during checkout and via periodic, optional, one-question, multiple-choice popup surveys28
  • Allow user to edit and delete registration
  • Don’t show full credit card number
  • Checkout is biggest reason people cannot buy from site29
  • On shopping cart page, show:
    • Hyperlinked product names
    • Entry fields for quantities
    • Prices
    • Dropdown list of shipping choices and costs
    • Order subtotal, including shipping + taxes if user is registered
    • Check boxes for removing products
    • Check boxes for moving products into wish list
    • Button to refresh the page
    • Links to return to shopping and to checkout
checkout continued
Checkout (continued)
  • Don’t require user to register to check out29
  • Put checkout fields on single, vertically scrollable page
  • Provide obvious links to privacy policy, security policies, delivery guarantees, and customer service guarantees26
  • For signed-in member, fill in checkout fields
  • For errors, put notice at top of page, explain at each field what was wrong and how to fix it
  • Provide complete, editable order summary
checkout continued14
Checkout (continued)
  • Provide order confirmation that includes19:
    • Order number
    • Instructions for canceling order
    • Directions for tracking order and shipment
    • Customer support info
    • Promotion (optional)
  • Require password when changing shipping address
  • E-commerce usability is important
  • User interface design best practices improve usability of e-commerce sites

1 Cohen, J., & Thompson, M. J. (1999, February). Mass appeal. The Standard [On-line]. Available: http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,4927,00.html

2 Seminerio, M. (1998, September 10). Study: One in three experienced surfers find online shopping difficult. In Inter@ctive Week [On-line]. Available: http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/quickpoll/981007/981007b.html

3 Thompson, M. J. (1999, August 9). How to frustrate Web surfers. Industry Standard [On-line]. Available: http://www.thestandard.com/metrics/display/0,1283,956,00.html

4 BizRate (2000, October 23). 78% of online shoppers abandon shopping carts according to BizRate survey. BizRate press release [On-line]. Available: http://www.bizrate.com/content/press/release.xpml?rel=88

5 Tedeschi, B. (1999, August 30). Good Web site design can lead to healthy sales. New York Times e-commerce report [On-line]. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/08/cyber/commerce/30commerce.html


6 Wixon, D., & Jones, S. (1992). Usability for fun and profit: A case study of the design of DEC RALLY version 2. Internal report, Digital Equipment Corporation. Cited in Karat, C., A business case approach to usability cost justification. In Bias, R. G., & Mayhew, D. J. (1994). Cost-justifying usability. San Diego: Academic Press.

7Creative Good (2000, June 12). The dotcom survival guide. Creative Good [On-line]. Available: http://www.creativegood.com/survival/

8 America Online (2001, March 8). AOL membership surpasses 28 million milestone. America Online press release [On-line]. Available: http://media.aoltimewarner.com/media/cb_press_view.cfm?release_num=50252317

9 Kadison, M. L., Weisman, D. E., Modahl, M., Lieu, K. C., & Levin, K. (1998, April). On-line research strategies: The look to buy imperative. Forrester Report [On-line], 1(1) [On-line]. Available: http://www.forrester.com/

10 America Online (2001, January 2). AOL holiday season shopping reaches $4.6 billion. America Online press release [On-line]. Available: http://media.aoltimewarner.com/media/cb_press_view.cfm?release_num=50252085


11 Miller, R. B. (1968). Response time in man-computer conversational transactions. In Proceedings of American Federation of Information Processing Societies Fall Joint Computer Conference,33, 267-277.

12 Nielsen, J. (1994). Response times: The three important limits. In J. Nielsen, Usability Engineering (pp. 115-163). San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann. Available: http://www.useit.com/papers/responsetime.html

13 Nielsen, J. (1997). The need for speed [On-line]. Available: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9703a.html

14 Lamers (1996, February 27). Personal communication.

15 Sacharow, A., & Mooradian, M. (1999, March). Navigation: Toward intuitive movement and improved usability. Jupiter Communications.

16 Sullivan, T. (1998). The need for speed. Site optimization strategies. All Things Web [On-line]. Available: http://www.pantos.org/atw/35305.html

17 Bernard, M. (2001, Winter). Developing schemas for the location of common Web objects. Usability News. Software Usability Research Laboratory, Wichita State University [On-line]. Available: http://wsupsy.psy.wsu.edu/surl/usabilitynews/3W/web_object.htm


18 CyberAtlas (1999, February 25). Online stores lacking. E-tailers should follow lead of offline shops [On-line]. Available: http://cyberatlas.internet.com/market/retailing/taylor.html

19 Ragus, D. (2000). Best practices for designing shopping cart and checkout interfaces [On-line]. Available: http://www.dack.com/web/shopping_cart.html

20 Reichheld, F. F., & Schefter, P. (2000, July-August). E-loyalty: Your secret weapon on the Web. Harvard Business Review, 105-113.

21 Stanley, J., McCarthy, J. C., & Sharrard, J. (2000, May). The Internet’s privacy migraine [On-line]. Available: http://www.forrester.com/

22Fleming, J. (1998). Web navigation: Designing the user experience. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.

23 Tracy, B. (2000, August 16). Easy net navigation is mandatory – Viewpoint: Online users happy to skip frills for meat and potatoes. Advertising Age, p. 38.

24 Nielsen, J., & Tahir, M. (2001, February). Building sites with depth. In webtechniques [On-line] 2001(2). Available: http://www.webtechniques.com/


25 eMarketer (2001, March 12). Turning shoppers on(line).eMarketer [On-line]. Available: http://www.emarketer.com/estatnews/estats/ecommerce_b2c/20010312_pwc_search_shop.html

26 Agrawal, V., Arjona, L. D., & Lemmens, R. (2001). E-performance: The path to rational exuberance. The McKinsey Quarterly [On-line], 1. Available: http://www.mckinsey.com/

27 Charron, C., Bass, B., O’Connor, C., & Aldort, J. (1998, July). Making users pay. Forrester Report [On-line]. Available: http://www.forrester.com/

28 Nielsen, J. (1999). Web research: Believe the data [On-line]. Available: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/99 0711.html

29 Rehman, A. (2000, October 16). Effective e-checkout design. ZDNet/Creative Good [On-line]. Available: http://www.zdnet.com/ecommerce/stories/evaluations/0,10524,2638874-1,00.html