Avoiding eCommerce UX Design Landmines: Navigating Common Mistakes and Their Solutions

It has never been easier to start selling your products or services online–whether you run a direct-to-consumer product or service business or sell a variety of products from different vendors. Just create an account on your eCommerce platform of choice, grab a premade template, upload your product data, and take your store live. Right?

eCommerce may be more accessible now than ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stand out in a competitive marketplace and grow your business online. There are many reasons why these businesses have hindered growth or fail. One of the most overlooked areas is creating a great eCommerce UX design. And this isn’t just an issue for new stores. 

Sadly, even big, well-established eCommerce platforms can sometimes get it wrong. Spending lots of time and money on top-of-funnel strategies to get users in the door is great. But if you’re not focused on UX, it can severely impact your conversion rate–and thus your bottom line.

So, let's journey through the intricate realm of eCommerce UX design, pinpointing prevalent mistakes and shedding light on best practices.

Overly Complex Navigation

It starts subtly—an extra dropdown here, a couple of filters there. Before you know it, your navigation begins to confuse rather than guide. While the intention may be to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, having a navigation with too many options can contribute to choice overload. If it’s unclear where to look because there are too many categories (and especially if the navigation options aren’t intuitive to new users), visitors may be more likely to leave without making a purchase.

Great eCommerce UX design is all about efficiency. Get your customer through the conversion funnel in as few clicks as possible. Streamline and declutter. Each category or submenu should be intuitive, and your search results should be clear and actionable. Also, an autocomplete function for your site search can be a huge help in finding the right product quickly.

Hidden or Complicated Checkout Process

A user adds items to their cart and is ready to checkout, only to be met with a confusing and lengthy process. What if the shopper wants to make a change to their order before completing checkout? Can they get back to their cart–or even edit their cart from the checkout screen? Is it easy to add discount codes or pick shipping options?

Sometimes, depending on the platform, there’s not much you can do to change the checkout flow. For instance, Shopify only allows you to change the design of checkout on their Plus tier. But, if you consider the pathway from cart to checkout as a continuous flow, there are still things you can do to set the customer up for a good checkout experience.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Add the ability to add coupon codes and calculate shipping before clicking checkout. Hiding these until after only increases the chance of cart abandonment.
  • Reduce the number of steps to checkout. The faster a customer can checkout, the more likely they are to complete the purchase.
  • Clearly indicate the steps of the checkout process, along with some visual cues that show how far the customer has gotten. Something like a progress bar. Bonus points if they can go back and forth between steps to make edits as needed.
  • Don’t require users to make an account to purchase. That’s a big commitment, and not everybody feels comfortable or sees the value in creating an account–even if they want to buy your product. A clearly marked guest checkout option is a great way to handle this, even if you want account creation to be the primary path.

Inadequate Product Descriptions or Images

Sparse product details and poor quality (and/or not enough) photos leave potential customers guessing and can lead to abandoned carts or high return rates. 

Provide clear, high-resolution images from multiple angles. Complement visuals with concise yet informative product descriptions, and ensure size guides or specifications are easily accessible. Include a gallery of customer photos, which can be pulled from Instagram with the right 

Overwhelming Users with Pop-Ups

Just as a shopper might be engrossed in browsing, a wild pop-up appears, breaking the flow and causing frustration. Marketing pop-ups for email capture, exit intent winbacks, and advertising sales or other campaigns can be effective in increasing conversion rate–when implemented correctly. But using too many, or not creating worthwhile incentives with great messaging and design, can add more UX friction and user frustration rather than benefit.

The Solution: Use pop-ups sparingly. If implementing them for sign-ups or offers, ensure they’re timed appropriately, easy to close, and don’t reappear incessantly.

Neglecting Clear Call-to-Action (CTA) Elements

Let’s say your SEO strategy is effective and you’re driving tons of traffic via well-optimized content like blog posts. Your visitors get to your site, read the post, scroll to the bottom of the page…and then what? Visitors are unsure of the next steps due to vague or missing CTAs.

Getting people to your site is only half the story. It’s important to help create an intentional browsing experience that gently guides users to relevant pages. For instance, try to find ways to recommend specific products within the content of your blog post. Include a call-to-action with the product name, images, price, and a button that either takes you directly to the product detail page or adds the product to cart.

CTAs like 'Add to Cart,' 'Proceed to Checkout,' or 'View More' should stand out and guide users effortlessly through the shopping process. And by thinking about the next step you’d like a customer to take after engaging with the current page, you can funnel shoppers to important conversion points.

Not Prioritizing Page Load Speed

Slow-loading pages can deter even the most patient shoppers. According to this blog post by Shopify from Oct 2022, “a one-second site speed improvement can increase mobile conversions by up to 27%.” Keeping your website loading fast reduces the chances of users leaving your site before they become buyers.

Regularly audit your website's speed. Optimize images, leverage browser caching, and consider using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to boost page loading times. There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to page load speed. It’s important to test your website through something like Google Page Speed Insights to find out what 

We’ve become experts at helping eCommerce stores analyze their website for UX best practices through practices like secret shopper audits and page speed analysis. If you’d like help boosting conversion rates through UX optimization, get in touch!

In Conclusion: Crafting a Stellar eCommerce UX Design

User experience is the backbone of any website, but it’s especially important for eCommerce.  Dodging the above pitfalls isn’t just about fixing errors—it’s about crafting an online atmosphere where users feel appreciated, understood, and eager to shop again.

In the expansive digital shopping world, platforms that prioritize eCommerce UX design shine brightest. Not just as retailers, but as brands that leave a mark. As experts in branding and design, we're here to assist and educate. The eCommerce landscape is ever-evolving, but with a steadfast focus on UX design, your platform can be not just relevant, but a benchmark for others.